The Obstacle of Illness

Since I came back from India last month, after my grandmother’s passing, it has been a struggle to find my energy and rhythm. I responded to this challenge by creating causes in faith. I have been going to all the SGI meetings in my group and at the centre, I even met with members in my interstate work travel last month. I knew that the practice is the only way I can find my way back to life and even if not, to continue to create value out of whatever was happening to me and inside of me. If I were to think about it, it didn’t even come from a place of what I can contribute but rather from a place of how I can engage with my life through faith and perhaps find some joy.

I signed up to participate in a dance performance for a big meeting next month and this has been a great joy. However, last week, I fell really sick after my dance practice.

Encountering obstacles or devilish functions is what distinguishes ‘practitioners’ from mere ‘believers.’ People leading lives of minor good who practice faith only for their own benefit will certainly not encounter obstacles, but those leading lives of major good dedicated to altruistic Bodhisattva practice will most definitely be assailed by devilish functions. Encountering obstacles and devilish functions is what identifies one as a practitioner.

President Makiguchi quoted here

On Thursday, I dragged myself to work, determined to not give in. Turned out to be a difficult day. On Friday, I became worse and had to take a sick day. I had high fever and went to see my TCM doctor, since I can’t take any western medicines due to my other health conditions. This really helped. However, I was still completely devoid of energy and hadn’t eaten all day.

All of my immediate family who live in India are on holidays. I felt like a bother to be telling them about my flu. However, later in the day, I called my mother and completely broke down. Instead of pretending to be a “together” adult, I was a sick child. I lamented about how hard I find my life to be, how after so many years of being sick and alone I should’ve learned how to deal with this and how I am just so weak, I feel ashamed.

My mother really encouraged and supported me. She reminded me how I am all by myself and that I manage everything independently and single-handedly. When I compared myself to her and inadequate I felt, she reminded me how she always had support and people around her while I literally have nobody to even get me water. She gave me some practical advice and encouraged me to somehow get out of bed and find something to eat. She even promised to call me an hour later to check on me, which she delivered on in a couple of hours.

It was an immensely enriching experience for me, for her to support me emotionally. I haven’t had this from her for a long time. I ate some eggs and found the energy to chant for an hour while lying down.

On Saturday, the fever was gone. I am still sick today on Monday but the worst has passed. I could have my group meeting at my home yesterday. This is a huge contrast to the last few years where my flu and associated sickness has lasted up to 3 months and each stage would take weeks. This time around I went from one stage to the next each day. I am determined that soon my life force will be so strong that I won’t even get sick in the first place.

I feel that this sickness has been truly an opportunity to change my deep-rooted karma – my pattern of pretending to be tough and not letting others into my life. Great progress towards my goal to really transform and overcome my health karma by 3 July this year and what joy too!

President Ikeda was talking about devilish functions in this month’s video that played in my mind as I was looking at my despair and sickness with disdain. He said,

The great endeavour of kosen-rufu is a struggle against devilish functions. We must win over devilish functions. Then, kosen-rufu spreads. It’s foolish to think that kosen-rufu could happen without devilish functions.

President Ikeda quoting President Toda in HQLM Video

Lucky how the Gosho this month was also “Encouragement to a Sick Person“. The guidance was fresh in my mind and I was focused on how to get through this as quickly as possible to I can contribute again. As President Ikeda says in his lecture on this writing from Nichiren Daishonin:

Illness can be an opportunity for lessening karmic retribution, for changing poison into medicine.

Everything in our lives is fuel for polishing our lives so that we have no regrets. Everything that happens allows us to show proof of achieving the state of eternal happiness that we call “attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime”. We have nothing to worry about. Since we have already entered the path to future victory, our aging, sickness and death reveal their true intrinsic nature illuminated by the Mystic Law.

Indigo Magazine June 2019 P18

And I persevere. Not giving up. Broken but not defeated. I continue to fight.

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