Journey in America
by Akiko Kahren
My husband, who had wished to live in America, and I (together with our two kids) moved to the Bay Area from Tokyo in 2004.
Before we came to America, my husband and I discussed about our moving, and I was against it in the beginning.
I thought like, "Can he get a job there?" "Is it possible for me to live there even though I don't speak English?" I was worried.
Later, I changed my mind and said, "Let's live in the U.S." Now he was against it. "No, let's drop it," he said. We never agreed each other.
After my sesshin indicated, "It looks like you are going to start living in America," my worries were gone, and we started preparing for our moving to the U.S.
The first thing we had to do before actually moving to America was save money because my foster lineage parent, who lived in the U.S., advised me, "Before coming to America, you better save money first."
However, I used to spend as much as I had, so I didn't know how to save money.
When I was wondering about saving money, my parents told me, "Stay with us since you are busy with your two kids."
My husband and I started living with my parents and started saving money little by little, but I hadn't told them about our plan to move to the U.S. yet.
I received my greencard two months later. It was due to the power from the spiritual world.
When I told my parents about our moving to the U.S., they opposed it.
They said that they wanted my husband to succeed their business, and they told me to convince him to do so.
My parents had been helping us financially, so I didn't want to let them down. But I also wanted to follow the spiritual words from my sesshin.
I thought if we stayed with my parents, however, we would have kept depending on them. I decided to try our best in America so that we won't be the burden on them anymore.
It was my first time when I saw my father's tears. "After all, it's your decision," he said.
Now our new life in the U.S. had started. But I had to get a driver license first.
Even though I was driving in Japan, it was not easy for me to get a license in America.
I failed the driving test even in my third attempt. I had to take the written test again.
I passed the written test, but again, I failed the driving test.
I failed the fifth driving test in total. "I don't need the driver license. I don't care even if I can't go anywhere," I thought.
I wanted to go back to Japan because one doesn't need a car in Japan and he/she can go anywhere by bus or by train.
My husband was unable to come with me for my driving test anymore. I made the appointment and drove to the DMV myself.
If I failed again, I would have to start over with the written test. I was so nervous. I hadn't been this nervous since I gave birth to my kids.
Even though I finally got the driver license, I became more worried like, "I wonder if I can really live in America or not."
When my husband and I were working in my father's company in Tokyo, we had to work even on weekends whenever he asked us so.
Thus, we only went to the temple once a month in Japan, and now I expected to go to the temple in the U.S. more often.
But my husband didn't find a job for three months.
Unexpectedly I found a job before he did. He, who was not good at baby-sitting, took care of our kids, and I, who was not good at working, got a job instead. It was a huge shock for me.
I got a job as a waitress, but I had never done that before. I started working both at the lunch and dinnertime.
I complained, "Why do I have to work from the morning to the late night?" "Is this what I came to America for?"
Together with my homesickness, I felt miserable and unbearable, and I didn't know how to deal with my feelings. I was frustrated all the time.
When I talked about my feelings to the pictures of Shinnyo Parents and the Two Dojis, I heard a soundless voice, "Try and do your best."
My foster lineage parent and the people around me kept encouraging me with their warm hearts.
I made a lot of mistakes in English. I didn't know what to do when a customer told me he would like to "take out" his food because I didn't know what "take out" meant.
I had no idea about the "unfiltered liquor." One customer walked to the refrigerator with me and pointed it out, "Here."
Later, that customer was connected to Shinnyo-en, and I started seeing him at the temple sometimes. Whenever I greeted him at the temple, I remembered that incident and I felt embarrassed.
The owner of the restaurant shouted at me whenever I made a mistake. He had a loud voice, so the customers looked at me. I felt ashamed and disgraced.
"You don't have to be so mad. I didn't want to make mistakes either," I thought.
One day, even though I was on my way to work, I decided to return home. Then, a story about Shindoin sama came up in my mind:
When Shindoin sama told his mother (Shojushin'in sama), "I don't want to go to school because I will be bullied," she scolded him, "Do you still want to create another burden to your father (Shinnyo Kyoshu sama)?" After that, he prayed at the Shincho-ji temple, and went to school on the next day.
I had a hard time, but because of that, I was able to understand (even a little of) Shindoin sama's experience.
When I felt that I was fortunate to be able to realize it, I broke into tears. Then, I decided to try my best.
Since then, I wasn't depressed anymore, even when the owner shouted at me.
Instead, I accepted it with gratitude. I started thinking that he shouted at me because he cared about me.
I used to blame someone else whenever I have a problem.
Whenever I had a hard time, I accused my husband like, "My life shouldn't be like that!"
But, my feelings toward him turned into gratitude, "Thank you for marrying such a selfish person like me!"
It was my most joyful moment because before that, I felt the Shinnyo Parents didn't care about me anymore.
In the next year, I was elevated to the 'daikangi' spiritual level.
If I hadn't had the Shinnyo Teaching, I would have gone back to Japan with my kids and I would have become a burden on my parents.
The Shinnyo Parents are ever present. Thus, there is nothing I can't overcome.
I can overcome anything. By fully realizing it, I became more confident in myself about living in America.
As if he had followed me, my husband was also elevated to the 'kangi' spiritual level.
Since he was a truck driver, he was given the opportunity to a new job at Consulate-General of Japan in San Francisco, which gave him a relief physically and financially.
Before working for Consulate-General of Japan, he also started with a job that he didn't want to do.
I understand that when you start dealing with a thing you don't like, you will see the way out.
He often said to the people around him, "If I think of how I would be without the Shinnyo Teaching, I can't help myself talking about the Shinnyo Teaching to anybody (otasuke)."
He was also given a role as a lineage chief for Cleaning Gohoshi.
My husband and I offer "kangi" as much as we can on a monthly basis.
Now, the more we practice the "three practices," the better we realize the importance of the "three practices."
Since I came to the U.S., I had devoted myself to the Shinnyo Teaching and raised my kids. Then I noticed two years had already passed.
I was given an opportunity to attend the ceremony of the consecration of Ogen Center (Ogen'in) in Tachikawa, Japan.
The Main Temple in Tachikawa looked the same as two years ago when I left Japan.
Through the second gate, I saw: Kasanori-inari at the left; Betaiten and Seiryo-daigongen at the right; Jizo-bosatsu; Achala made from a polished stone; Shinyo-ji; the first main temple, the second main temple, and Eto-in.
When I was standing in front of the Shinnyo Stupa, I felt like I was surrounded with the indescribable air, and I sensed as if the Shinnyo Parents and their Two Dojis were sitting and facing toward me.
"The Shinnyo Parents and the Two Dojis never give up on a person like me. They always care about me and they are ever present." I was just filled with gratitude.
Last year, I received a great joy of the "grand opening of the USA Head Temple," and I was giving a lot of heartfelt care from the Shinnyo Parents and the Two Dojis. Then I made a determination, "From now on, I will try my best."
The next month, however, my father passed away.
"Why now? Why suddenly? He was only 69 years old..."
I asked my mother what had happened on him in Japan?
She said that he was in a condition that required him to have insulin injections due to diabetes. He also got a stomach cancer and a tumor in 5cm size in his stomach was found.
She was also told that the doctor would cut the entire stomach off after my father's blood sugar level and body temperature drop.
My father owned a small company with a small number of the employees, so he had to continue to work.
I think because my husband and I had flown to America, he forced himself to work harder.
If only he had visited a doctor at a hospital; if my husband and I had helped him in his company, he would have lived a bit longer.
I regret that I should have conveyed the Shinnyo Teaching to him with more effort.
Regretting it didn't bring my father back, but I kept thinking like that.
I didn't imagine how pitiful it is to lose a family member.
How much sorrow the Shinnyo Parents had when they lost the Two Dojis! How sad Shinnyo Kyoshu sama was when he lost Shojushin'in sama!
Through my father's passing away, I was able to realize even a bit that on the foundation made by those holy lives I was given the opportunities for receiving sesshin and for seeking the Path.
That's why it happened in the month of June, in which we have Kyodoin sama's memorial and in the following two months, we have the Shinnyo Parents' and Shindoin sama's memorial.
As it is said "from the consecration of the Sacred Site (Oyasono) to the consecration of our hearts," I would like, together with my husband, to be a person whom the Shinnyo Parents and the Two Dojis are proud of by changing from benefit-seeking myself to Buddha-centered myself, and become a true foundation for the people as soon as I can.