My Father Taught Me Buddhism Must Be Heard Even If It Means Fighting One's Way Through Raging Flames
Here's the testimonial by Shunsuke, Japan
Father, can you hear me? Thank you for giving me life. Thank you so much for raising me.
My father passed away this March because of cancer. My father had dedicated his life to his work in the construction industry for many years. Having struggled and survived through angry waves of life’s sea of suffering, he was a typical self-dependent self-sufficient person who had no religion or faith. When I talked about Buddhism, he would flatly reject me, saying, “I have no intention of listening to your teachings.” Years went by with me being unable to convey Buddhist teachings to him. However, last August, he noticed something was wrong with his health and went for a thorough check up. He had terminal cancer. This harsh reality was thrust before me without any warning. I thought I had no time to waste to convey Buddhism to him, no matter what. From that time onward, my first priority had been to support my father’s fight against the disease. As I expressed to him my appreciation for having given me life and raised me, he gradually came to listen to Buddhism. “I didn’t know you cared about me that much,” he said. He was very pleased. When I asked him to join me in walking the Buddhist path, he willingly accepted the offer and became a Shinran Follower, which I had been hoping for a long while.
However, the wind of impermanence didn’t wait. Early in March, my father collapsed at home and was transported by ambulance to Toyama University Hospital. The doctor gave him a week to live. There was not a minute to waste. I stayed overnight in the hospital room every night, dedicated to taking care of him and conveying Buddhist teachings to him. My father expressed his anxiety over his afterlife. He said, “There is nothing I can do any more. This issue is on a different level. This hell lasts forever.” “Father, Amida Buddha saves you without fail by having your dark mind be reborn as a mind of brightness.” I kept encouraging and sharing Buddhism with him, and he managed to live until March 20, the day of the Webinar by Takamori-sensei. In the morning, the doctor called me and said, “I think he will pass away within 24 hours.” This webinar was definitely going to be my father’s last session with Takamori-sensei in this life. However, as my father was on the verge of death, he remained lying in his bed even after the session started. I was even not sure if he was hearing the lecture. I wondered if the session would come to an end this way, but suddenly my father sat up on the bed. Sitting up straight as a board, Father looked steadily at the computer screen. That was the start of the last time my father listened to Buddhism before his death.
In the middle of the session, the doctor came into the room and got surprised. “What’s the matter, Mr Sakane?” the doctor asked, but my father didn’t respond. Listening to Buddhism single-mindedly, all he could hear was Takamori-sensei’s words. “Patients on their deathbed aren't able to raise their body like that. This is impossible.” The doctor was surprised. He was no ordinary doctor, but a professor at a university hospital. He was a top professional who had been giving tens of thousands of patients leading-edge
medical treatment. Since we were in the middle of the lecture, I simply replied to the doctor, “Because it is a Buddhist lecture.”
At 4 p.m. the lecture ended. But my father remained seated staring at the computer. I thought, “Oh, you want to hear more.” Immediately I played him an Unlocking the Animation video on the tablet. After he finished watching the video, he lost all of his energy and collapsed on the bed. My father couldn’t have moved at all, but Amida Buddha’s great willpower made him listen. Father taught me through his behavior that “Buddhism must be heard even if it means fighting one's way through raging flames.”
I thought I had been the one who was sharing Buddhism to my father, but it was the opposite. Father taught me through the way he was that every single word of Takamori-sensei exhibits the great mind-power of Amida Buddha, meaning the power of his Vow, which pledges to surely make all people be reborn. This was definitely the last testament of my unique father. It was not money, and not possessions. It was this supreme treasure that I will never forget throughout my life.
That night, at two o’clock in the morning, Father suddenly got up. Then he clung to the table on which the Name, the six-character Namu Amida Butsu, was placed and he murmured something in a voice I couldn’t recognize. “Father, have you encountered Amida Buddha?” I asked him and he nodded twice. Ten minutes went by, then 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour. Father kept talking before the Name the whole time. Amida’s compassion reached my father, who was suffering in the nethermost hell. The tragedy of Rajagrha was not just an old story from 2600 years ago. Having shown his family a wondrous drama from Amida Buddha, the countless buddhas, and bodhisattvas, Father passed away the next morning. My mother was moved by what happened to him and became a Shinran Follower, too. At the very last moment of his life, my father taught Buddhism to his beloved wife and then left for the Pure Land. Father. His Buddhist name is Syaku Shin Sho.
I believe you hear me. Thank you very much. See you again in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land.