by Akiko Connors
Having received the e-mail to gather testimonies from lineage members, I was thinking about it for a while.
At the last home meeting, everyone shared about their precious experiences, and I was able to learn from them.
So, I thought maybe my talk could be useful for someone, too.
That’s why I’m writing this testimony now.
There are so many elements involved, so I don’t know if I can explain everything well enough, but I’ll try my best in writing about them.
First, it started from the e-mail I received in the beginning of March from my lineage parent and guiding parent about Daijo Eza.
As soon as I saw the schedule, I thought to myself, “I can’t do it.”
It was the same day as the high school graduation of our twin nieces.
We had already replied to the invitation in February that we would go.
If it were the nieces on my side of the family, it may be a different story.
But since they are my husband's nieces, it was difficult to push my opinion through.
My husband has only one sibling, an older brother.
But since there is a big age difference between them, his older brother takes good care of us as if he were our father.
Their mother (my mother-in-law) had moved closer to her elder son’s home after her husband’s sudden passing 7 years ago on his travels.
Our family is small, but everyone gets along really well and enjoys getting together often.
I replied to my lineage parent and guiding parent that I probably wouldn’t be able to attend Eza under such family circumstance.
Afterwards, my guiding parent asked me if I could arrange the schedule somehow.
I didn’t know what to do and just left at that.
About 2 weeks later, I had an opportunity to receive sesshin.
What was indicated first was a male ancestor on the paternal side who had an ailment that affected from abdominal area to the back.
I first thought of my father who had died from stomach cancer.
But I was told it wasn’t him. I couldn’t figure out who this ancestor was.
Then, I remembered about an uncle who had passed way from colon cancer.
He was my father’s elder brother. I asked the medium if it was him, and the medium said yes.
I was told that this ancestor wanted to tell me something.
But the medium didn’t tell me what it was exactly.
But for some reason, I thought about his second son (my cousin) and also about his wife (my aunt).
Latter part of the spiritual words concerned about myself, and there was also something that drew my attention.
I was told that now is the time for me to build an unshakeable foundation.
And the effort I make now would make a big difference in May.
Immediately, I knew it was about the Daijo Eza.
But I only thought to myself, “Well then, I’m supposed to go to Eza” and didn’t do anything about it.
For the time being, I made an osegaki request for this uncle and went home.
However, the mention of my uncle kept my attention, and I called my mother in Japan to ask about him.
She told me that there seem to have been a lot of problems but it should be fine now.
Since my mother isn’t in close contact with my uncle’s family, she doesn’t know much about their situation.
I told my mother what happened that day.
And I asked her if I could call my aunt and ask her about it, since the sesshin words really struck my mind.
My mother told me that I should go ahead and call my aunt and gave me her phone number.
So I called.
It was the very first time for me to call this aunt, so she didn’t recognize me at first.
I talked about my uncle and asked her if everything was OK.
She told me that she’s at a loss because of so many things going on.
She said that her birth family’s religion was Shingon Buddhism, so she was thinking about requesting the special prayer for her second son.
When I mentioned to her about uncle being mentioned in my sesshin, she listened to me and told me that she believed it.
Gaining confidence from her reply, I told her a little about Shinnyo-en.
I told her that my mother should have some Nirvana issues at home, and she could borrow them if she would like.
And if she felt like going to Shinnyo-en, I offered to do the necessary paperwork for her.
And I hung up the phone.
Soon, time for the Spring Higan came around.
Since it coincided with Easter this year, I did not attend the Spring Higan Service.
Instead, we visited the mother-in-law’s with everybody else.
Before we met my brother-in-law’s family, my mother-in-law told us that the nieces’ graduation was to start at 9AM.
Since we must leave the house by 8a.m., we were told to stay there overnight from the previous day.
Because I heard from my guiding parent that many high school graduations start in the afternoon or later in the day, I knew at that point that I should give up the Eza.
Even my mother-in-law said she was surprised to hear about the graduation ceremony held so early in the day.
But since we don’t have many close family or relatives, she told us that everybody should go.
I thought, “Oh no, that’s problem.” But I couldn’t object to her.
After dinner, I thought even if I can’t attend Eza, at least I could invite everyone for the service on 18th.
And I told my mother-in-law and sister-in-law about that.
They listened to me but did not give me any definite answer.
I wasn’t expecting immediate response, so I didn’t think much about it.
My mother-in-law is a member of a Presbyterian church and my brother-in-law’s family is Catholic.
So, I didn’t think they would have any particular interest in other religions.
After coming home following the Easter dinner, I still remembered about my aunt in Japan and called my mother.
She told me that, as is the customary case, my aunt drove my mother to go to the family graves at a temple for the Higan visit.
My aunt didn’t ask my mother for anything.
But since I had previously asked my mother to give some Nirvana issues to my aunt if she contacted, my mother put some Nirvana’s in a bag and handed them to my aunt discretely in another relative’s presence.
As I talked with my aunt a few times on the phone, I was able to guide her and her second son (my cousin) to the teaching.
I was able to find a foster lineage parent in Japan and was told that both of them attended the Feast of Buddha’s Birth on April 8th.
When I told my mother about this, she told me surprisingly that she would ask my aunt about it, while normally she wouldn’t like hearing about Shinnyo-en, saying that her family religion is the Jodoshinshu sect of Buddhism.
And another amazing thing happened.
Under the kind guidance from my lineage parent and guiding parent, I was able to offer gohoshi on the Feast of Buddha’s Birth.
On the following night, I received a phone call from my sister-in-law who encouraged me to go to the temple and not worry about the twin nieces’ graduation because the religion is important.
In addition, she told me that she would love to attend the new temple’s dedication service on May 18.
To tell you the truth, when I attended the home meeting for the first time a few days ago, I mentioned that I didn’t know which one to choose between the Eza and graduation and received everyone’s advice.
Afterwards, I sent an e-mail to my brother-in-law, his wife (sister-in-law) and my mother-in-law, explaining what kind of bind I was in and asking them to choose the best one out of 3 options that I was thinking about.
Those 3 options didn’t include anything that said I’d miss the graduation, go to the temple, and then on the 18th invite everyone to come to the dedication service.
But I’m so grateful that they decided that was the best option.
Also the other day, when my husband called his mother, she gave him a message for me to go to the temple and not to worry about the graduation.
Because religion is so important, he was encouraged to go to the temple, too.
I’ve learned so many things from this series of events.
No matter what obstacles we may face, if we decide to practice the teaching and continue to make efforts without giving up, then the path will open up.
What we receive through the spiritual words may not make sense immediately but it will sooner or later.
Buddha, the Dharma Protectors, Shinnyo Parents and Ryodoji-sama are always watching over us.
Morning and evening chanting is important. And our ancestors render their support as well.
It truly gave me a great experience.
I don’t know how much of it made sense to you, but I’d be happy if you could use this for some reference.