Mrs. Alwis delivers her Dharma experience in the Great Sacred Hall.
Good morning, everyone, I’m very pleased to meet you here today. My name is Malinee Alwis from Sri Lanka which is an island located in the southern direction of India.
I have been married for 31 years, and my husband tenderly loves his family and has continued to diligently work for the family with his entire effort. He is a tremendously wonderful husband to support us in this way. My 29-year-old son got married this year fortunatelyenough, all thanks to you. My daughter is now 27 years old. There are five members living together in my family; my husband, son, daughter in law (my son’s wife), daughter, and me, along with a pet dog. In the Rissho Kosei-kai Sri Lanka Dharma Center, I have been given the role of a family hoza(Dharma Circle) leader at my district as well as being put in charge of the promotion group for Family Education. I am also one of the board members at the Rissho Kosei Dhamma Foundation (= Sri Lanka Dharma Center), which is registered by the government of Sri Lanka.
When Rev. Yoshiaki Yamamoto was inaugurated as minister of the Sri Lanka Dharma Center in 2010, he told usSri Lankan members that President Nichiko Niwano had continually preached to us for as long as 20 years (1998-2017) that “the Buddha is absolute (truth)”, and that “the life of the Buddha is abiding within every one of us” with regard to the theme, “Cultivating the fields in the heart and mind of each and every person.”
As I was born and grew up under the parents who were faithful Theravada Buddhists in Sri Lanka, a buddha meant the most respectful and supreme Lord Buddha. Therefore, it was very difficult at the beginning to believe that theprecious life of the highly respected Buddha is present within me. Having deepened my faith little by little, however, I’m genuinely practicing the teachings of the Dharma.
I became a member of Rissho Kosei-kai 20 years ago in 1996. At that time I happened to be invited by Mr. GaminiChandrasekara, my husband’s friend, who said to me, “Won’t you pay a visit to Japanese Buddhist organization called Rissho Kosei-kai for once?” I was puzzled at first as to what I should do, knowing that Rissho Kosei-kai is an organization that had no professional Buddhist monks nor priests at all, but I couldn’t refuse his invitation due to his being my husband’s old friend.
When I visited the Sri Lanka Dharma Center for the first time, however, I was deeply touched and attracted to members’ attitude of mutual reverence in praying for each other in a warmhearted atmosphere. I was also fascinated by their grateful mindsets and their thankfulness for their parents, ancestors, and other people around them. In Sri Lanka, we have national holidays on the full-moon day called poya day every month, and then, as any lay Buddhist followers are supposed to do, we pay a courteous visit and worship at their temples on that day. Rissho Kosei-kai’sDharma Center holds a ceremony on that poya day, too, so, I began to attend their ritual gatherings there.
A few years later, thanks to the compassionate arrangement of Rev. Teruo Saito, former director of South Asia Division, some lecturers from Tokyo Research Institute for Family Education were invited to Sri Lanka, and the Family Education Symposium in public has begun to becontinuingly held here. Through participations in the public symposia, I realized that I had raised my children just as I wanted to at my own discretion, and this awakening prompted me to deeply reflect upon myself. In the meanwhile, I have recognized that Family Education is simply none other than the teaching of the Lotus Sutra, which preaches that “We should revere the Buddha within other people.” At the same time, I understand that Family Education is one of the instrumental measures to convey the teaching of the Lotus Sutra to the general public. At present, I have been striving my best along with other members in an effort to invite all the mothers throughout Sri Lanka, wishing that all of them could listen and learn the Family Education at future public symposia.
Since the year of 2015, the Sri Lanka Dharma Center has started to hold a family hoza session at members’ homes ineach district of Sri Lanka. Any members who have received and enshrined the gohonzon, (the focus of devotion) at the local bestowal ceremony of the Sri Lanka Dharma Centercan apply for the role of a family hoza leader in the local community. At a family hoza session, the family’s relatives, friends, and neighbors gather together to learn and share theteachings of Rissho Kosei-kai. The theme of this family hozaincludes “Let us revere the Buddha within every family member one by one.” I also applied for the role of a family hoza leader.
While I was practicing tedori (guiding people in the Way), meeting my relatives, neighbors, friends, and acquaintancesat my district, to invite them to come to a family hoza, I encountered a woman, whom I have known for nearly 30 years. She had happily lived with her husband and three sons, but one year later after her third son was born, her husband passed away in a motorbike accident. Five monthsafter that accident, her real father died due to a suddenillness. Since she had no brothers and sisters, she had to take care of her remaining three sons – a 15-year-old, a 9-year-old, and a 1-year-old – as well as her old, weak mother byherself alone.
As she had been just a house wife, she had no means to gain income at all. In the meantime confronting the successive deaths of her closest family members, she was afraid that her beloved sons’ lives might be taken away next. Therefore she started fearing that her current living house built by her father must have led to misfortune or some kind of evil, and which made her feel uneasy. By the same token, looking after her weak mother must have placed a greater weight on her shoulders.
At last she moved to a small rented house from her owned house due to the economic difficulties, and released it to another family. But her close relatives harshly blamed and condemned her, bringing up such points as why she didn’t treasure her real mother, why she had dared to move to anarrow rented house, and so forth. She has been apparently suffering from such harsh words told by them so often. She came along to talk with me and consult with me about her problem, because she hadn’t been able to tell her troublesand hardship to anyone else up to that time. When I listened to what she wanted to say, I found that her relatives just gave their complaints at her and never appreciated her at all even though she has made her best efforts in caring for her mother, and in fact, she had done as much as possible. She continued to tell me about her angry feeling toward her relatives who kept on unilaterally blaming and complaining at her, in spite of the fact that the relatives visited her houseonly once a while, and never offered any helping hands forher at all.
I took her to Rev. Yoshiaki Yamamoto, minister of the Sri Lanka Dharma Center to receive his Dharma guidancetogether. The minister said to her, “I can truly perceive your compassionate kindness on how you love and treasure your mother with all your heart, and want to take care of her warmheartedly. Please affectionately do whatever you would like to do for your mother according to what you honestly feel in your heart, showing your great appreciation to her who gave a birth to you. You also should be grateful and thankful for those relatives who are worried about you and pay a visit to your house with concern.” Rev. Yamamoto guided me in this way: “No matter what kind of hard time you will have, let us practice the earnest faith in the Buddhatogether. So, Malinee-san, please continue to practice tedorifor her, firmly believing the Buddha without giving up, until you can perceive the feeling that her inner Buddha is just starting to shine brilliantly.”
Profoundly trusting the minister’s guidance, I have continued the practice of wholeheartedly revering theBuddha within her. Then, to my surprise, she began to put the teachings into practice, just as Rev. Yamamoto told her to do so. I was totally surprised to know this fact, and simultaneously I felt that her warmhearted considerations inthinking much of her mother signified the manifestation of the Buddha in her mind. I also felt about her own strong, firm faith. After that, the gohonzon bestowed at the Sri Lanka Dharma Center was enshrined at her house, and she gradually started to recite the sutra in the morning and evening in front of the Buddha at home by herself.
Wondrously enough, after a while, there happened to appear one person who wanted to buy the house she owned, although a mysterious rumor was going around about the dreadful house where family members died one after another, and so selling the house had actually been difficult. This incident was a remarkable phenomenon as if one light was shining for her. Thanks to the arrangement for the sale of her house, she and her family didn’t face any moreeconomical hardship in their everyday life.
After that, she received a marvelous opportunity that her 17-year-old second son was recommended by his school to study in China. Soon after she sent off her second son leaving for China, her mother who had been suffering from her illness for a long time passed away for travelling at theendless journey. The eldest son, who was working in Sri Lanka to support his family on behalf of his deceased father,especially for mother who continued to look after his grandmother and for his youngest brother, who still was just a little kid, could obtain an opportunity to receive the scholarship and went to China to study, too, in October. At present it seems difficult for two sons to send her money forliving expense as they have to study, but they manage to lead independent life for an effort by themselves by working a part-time job. I wholeheartedly pray that both of her sons, after they finish studying in China, will be able to serveactively and successfully in Sri Lankan society as great human resources, utilizing these three languages of Chinese, English, and Sinhalese in the future. As the minister taught me before, I was able to learn the profound truth, in whichrevering and worshiping the Buddha will certainly make uslead and link to our own liberation, being free from our suffering mind through the precious experience and interactive connection with her.
This is the commemorative year of 20th anniversary for my family since we were guided to Rissho Kosei-kai in 1996. I was extremely impressed beyond my words when I heard by Rev. Yamamoto that I would be given an incredible opportunity and honor to present my Dharma Sharing on behalf of the Sri Lankan members on the stage of the Great Sacred Hall on November 1st. The reason why I was very grateful for this role was because through my presentation of this spiritual journey, I thought I could express my words of gratitude and appreciation that our Founder and President Niwano have enthusiastically preached the precious Dharma for each one of us with their compassionate hearts, and thatI’ve received a mountain of warmhearted considerations from many Japanese members as well.
Unfortunately, however, around 7:30 pm on August 23, when I was riding in my son’s car, all of sudden, the car was crashed on the frontage road of express highway and overturned. I was in the rear sheet and wounded seriously cracking my bones of lower back and top of the thighboneswith my hip joint. It was a sudden accident as I was returning back to my house from a certain hospital where, for the purpose of transferring merit to my deceased father, I donated dinner meals cooked by me along with lots of my family members and relatives in collaboration for those 318 patients in the hospital who are suffering from various kinds of cancers.
My son, who was driving his car, must have been exhausted and had dozed off at the wheel at that moment. Although his car was wrecked off, however, my son driving the car and his wife, who was taking on the front passenger’s seat, were entirely safe and sound without any scratches at all. My husband said to me afterward, “The police officer of the express highway told me that this was the first time he has seen a survivor at the same site of this accident spot.” It was nothing but the Buddha’s protection and blessing for sure. One of non-member relatives said, to my astonishment, “Malinee, it’s because you have been praying and practicing Rissho Kosei-kai’s faithful activities hard every day, that you only sustained that level of injury, isn’t it?”
Nevertheless, just only my son felt like complaining the accident, saying to me, “Why has only my mother sufferedthose serious injuries, despite how devoted she has beenherself to the practices of Rissho Kosei-kai?” However, if this kind of accident should actually happen to my son and my daughter-in law, and their lives should be taken away, I could not carry on living my life any more. The Buddha does know about it very well, therefore, I fully believe this is the reason only I myself have got off with this kind of woundsand physical damages, rather than other family membersindeed. My heart and mind are enormously overwhelmed with wholehearted thankfulness and gratefulness toward the Buddha.
While in bed at the hospital, I had been wondering with a sense of anxiety whether or not I should refuse this role of personal Dharma Sharing. However, I strongly made up my mind to receive this crucial role and go to Japan at any cost, no matter what should happen, as a representative of the Sri Lanka Dharma Center.
Next year in 2017, we will hold and celebrate the ceremony for enshrinement of the gohonzon and the inauguration ceremony of the newly constructed Dharma center in Sri Lanka. The new Dharma center is a precisely holy, venerated sanctuary for us members of the Sri Lanka Dharma Center. I’m very much looking forward to installing the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni there at the worship hall of the new Dharma center from now on.
It would have been no wonder if I had already lost my current life in that car accident actually, and so in that sense,I’m sure that the present life is definitely given by the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni without fail. I shall make a vow to spread and disseminate teachings of the Lotus Sutra diligently, making full use of my given life, and firmly believing in the universal truth which President Niwano has been preaching and mentioning with these expressions that “The Eternal Buddha is absolute!” and “The Dharma is absolute!”
To my Japanese Dharma friends here, thank you very much for your kind attention and cooperation.