【Accepting everything as the workings of the Dharma…】
We are now deep into autumn and the changes of the trees, which transform the landscape in various ways, are showering our eyes and hearts with moments of joy. Little by little, the wind will cause the leaves that changed color to red and yellow to eventually flutter down. Recently, as we see the dry leaves that have fallen, we start to feel the pleasant arrival of winter. How are you, everyone?
As for our family, my second daughter who lives in Japan gave birth to her third child (baby boy) early morning on September 21st. He was born a month before the due date and weighed only 1995 grams (about 4.4 lbs.). The baby was born with pulmonic insufficiency.
As I recall, it was shortly after 12 noon on June 12th of this year. I received a call at my apartment from my second daughter, Yoko. In Japan, that was past 1:00 am in the morning. I felt, “It is so late, something must have happened.” What I heard on the phone was Yoko’s voice as she desperately fought back her tears. She said, “Today, at the six month prenatal checkup, we were told the baby has an abnormal heart condition.”
More and more, as I heard the explanation, I was truly astonished by the development of modern medical science. The heart of the baby still in the womb was so accurately pictured in the sonogram. I just wanted to embrace and share Yoko’s pain as I said, “Yes. It’s so~ painful! Yes, it is.” “We will go through this together.” But to be honest, I was incredibly shocked, myself.
Because I did not want my daughter Yoko to suffer in pain any further, I caught myself feeling somewhere in my heart, “Please, Buddha, let it be a misdiagnosis…” or “If this is supposed to be a life not meant to be, while the parents’ memory is still not as painful…” I found myself holding such selfish wishes.
The next day, I received an e-mail from my elder daughter, Masako. She wrote, “Mama, when I heard from you about the baby, I thought, ‘Baby, thank you for choosing Yoko and her family.’ The baby may be ill, but I am sure he is doing his best to keep alive in Yoko’s womb. I think there is only one way for us to welcome this baby – to say, ‘Thank you, dear baby’ – since everything is caused to live. I have an urge to go immediately to Sendai to see Yoko. For now, however, I will do my morning and evening sutra recitation and pray that Yoko will be able to overcome her pain and sorrow. Mama, please focus on your duties in New York and don’t worry about Yoko.”
I felt as if I was hit with a hammer and snapped back to reality.
President Niwano teaches us the importance of “faithfully following the wishes of the Buddha.” We understand that to mean; everything that appears in our life is the Buddha’s arrangement, and therefore, we should accept that – as is – with gratitude. Everything is a gift from the Buddha.
Yet, my prayers were based on such lame and foolish ideas!
Since then, many tests were done and everything became clear. The valve of the pulmonary artery which connects the heart and the lung is closed. However, the baby does not know that the valve to which the blood is supposed to flow is closed, and is thus working hard to send the blood toward that valve. The doctor explained: because of the excessive effort, the muscle on the inside of the right ventricle is overly developed. I felt I was witnessing the workings of a mystical life.
I recalled how in Buddhism for Today (pages 208-209), Founder Niwano taught us about the microscopic one-celled living creatures. “Just consider that billions of years ago, the earth had no life; volcanoes poured forth torrents of lava, and vapor and gas filled the sky. However, when the earth (gradually) cooled…microscopic one-celled living creatures were produced.”
“…everything has the power of desiring to ‘exist and to live.’ Two billion years ago, even (on this earth where only) lava, gas, and vapor (existed, there somehow was a place where the ‘power,’ or shall we say, the ‘mind to live’ transpired.) That is why one-celled living creatures were generated from them when the conditions were right. These infinitesimal creatures (with an astounding urge to live) endured all kinds of trials, including extreme heat (over hundreds of degrees) and cold (below hundreds of degrees)...for about two billion years, and continued to live. Moreover, they gradually evolved into more sophisticated forms, culminating in man.”
Our Founder said: the power • will to live exist in everything in the universe. Furthermore, he stated, that mind and will to live should be no different for us, the mankind of today.
That overlapped with the heartbeat of the baby in my daughter’s womb as he tries to live. Just single-mindedly with the will “to live,” “to want to live,” he bravely continues to perform his activity to live.
That is the will that is trying so hard to live. I thought that, indeed, is the workings of the Dharma. And I, who exist as merely a minute part in this universe, foolishly disregarded such workings of the Dharma and suffered by being attached to my own selfish desires. When I realized this, I even started to see the folly of my ways. At the same time, my heart started to feel liberated from our suffering.
Then, the presence of the baby who is trying so hard to live – the workings of the Dharma, as is – resonated in my heart. “Thank you, dear baby! I will be waiting for the day you are born! Please know everything will be fine.” No matter what happens, I wish to weather it together. At present, each member of my family believes that, within our effort in dealing with the situation, is our effort to become a buddha.
During my present return to Japan, I met the baby who was born one month before the due date. He received the name Yukio.
I spontaneously said to him, “Yukio, thank you for being born into our lives! Thanks to you I was able to receive a great treasure.”
Yoko and her husband determinedly accepted from the doctor the plan of treatment hereafter. They are bright and cheerful • grateful and delighted with the birth of their son. They live daily, full of gratitude for the blessings they are already receiving.
New York Church Minister