When Takamori-sensei appeared on the stage, Daren Arroyo, who came from the Philippines to attend the Ho’on’ko gathering, began to tremble. When the lecture started, she could not stop her tears from flowing. “I have been waiting for this moment.” What was the reason for her tears?
While she worked as a nurse, Daren was also working as an online English teacher. Last April, a young Japanese Shinran Follower, Masaki Usumoto, began taking her English lessons. This would lead to her encounter with Master Shinran’s teachings. “The learning material he wanted to use during the lessons was the book You Were Born For A Reason.”
It was the first time for Daren to hear Buddhist terms such as “The Dark Mind” or “The Root Cause of Suffering,” but she was attracted to those terms and began listening to the Buddhist teachings from Masaki for about one hour after their English lessons. “He wrote important terms on the board and explained them using a pointer, which I was able to watch through a web camera.”
As a little girl, Daren liked to dream of her future. She always dreamed of the moment when the most wonderful thing in her life would come true. However, she came to stop having such dreams. “I learned that it’s fiction and far from reality, you see.”
One of her dreams, marriage, was shattered and she became a single mother with a little son and began working very hard. She suffered both physically and mentally from various troubles, including her chronic illness. She asked a priest at church for salvation, but he simply replied to her, “This is your destiny bestowed by God.”
Disappointed, she asked another priest. He said, “God has given you this pain because he knows you can overcome it.” She felt like she was driven to the depths of despair. That was when she learned about Buddhism through Masaki.
Half a year later, Daren had a bone marrow transplant. The operation was very difficult, risking her life. Knowing about her operation, Masaki flew from Japan to the Philippines right away. He took several planes from the airport in the capital Manila. The name of the hospital was his only clue to reach her.
One day, a man was standing at the entrance to her room in the hospital. The man silently showed her the green book, covering his face with it. It was the book You Were Born For a Reason. “Is this the guy, Masaki, from Japan? No way!” She had not been told he would visit.
“Please read this book. This is a message form Master Shinran. You cannot die. When you get well, you can go to the 2000-Tatami- Mat Hall. You can attend a lecture by Takamori-sensei. So, hang in there and stay alive!”
So saying, Masaki handed the book to her. “2,000-Tatami-Mat Hall? A lecture by Takamori-sensei?” She had no idea what they meant, but she held the book that had come to her all the way from Japan and became absorbed in reading it.
Gradually, she came to dream of listening to Buddhism in the 2,000-Tatami- Mat Hall in Japan. Afterwards, she participated in Skype meetings for English- speakers and Takamori- sensei’s sermons or Q&A sessions through webinars.
She came to understand the Law of Cause and Effect taught in Buddhism, which expounds the mechanism of our destiny. At first, she could not accept the Law that her own deeds in the past caused the painful results she had at present. She could not recall any bad deeds she had done. However, learning the existence of the Three Worlds and the reality of doing evil with her mind, mouth, and body, she came to feel that the teachings are true.
In February, she decided to give up Christianity and became a Shinran Follower. In April, she was granted the Correct Object of Reverence in the Philippines. “I want to go to the 2,000-Tatami- Mat Hall someday.”
However, Masaki suggested that she should go this year, and prepared for her visa and passport with enthusiasm. Her parents were pleased to see Daren getting well and to have become cheerful and gentle, and so they were willing to support her with travel expenses. With these various good conditions united in a very short period of time, she was able to attend the Ho’on’ko gathering.
“The most wonderful dream in my life, which I had been dreaming of since I was a child, came true in the 2,000- Tatami-Mat Hall. Uplifted, frenzied, overwhelmed— I cannot find any words to express what I feel.” Suddenly she felt the urge to remove her earphones and listen to Takamori- sensei’s voice directly. “I could not understand any Japanese he said, but I could feel how true every word he uttered was. I got goosebumps throughout the lecture.”
“In the 2,000-Tatami- Mat Hall, I learned about the great purpose of life and attaining other-power faith, which is far beyond my imagination. Now I am clear about the fact that we can be saved by Amida Buddha only through listening, and the fact that I have been born to receive the Name in a split second of ichinen and have my birth in the Pure Land settled.” She said that the Philippines has a large population of Christians and many of them endure with the idea that “their doomed destiny is the lesson given by God.”
“I’d like to convey true Buddhism to others and share this happiness with them.” Daren began to move forward towards her new dream.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #47 | 2015, The Reason for Her Tears
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