Spiritual Autobiography

通っている大学の宗教心理学の授業課題で書いたエッセイです。

Nada Sousou (A Stream of Tears)
English Translation of the lyrics*:

I whisper “thank you”, as I leaf through this old photograph album,
To one who always cheered me on, within my heart
And should the memories of that smile I think of,
Come rain or shine, fade away into the distance
They return in the days I search for a glimpse of your face, a stream of tears
Almost a habit now, I wish upon the very first star
Looking within the evening skies for you with all my heart
The memories of that smile I think of, in sorrow or joy
And if you can see me, from where you are
I’ll live on, believing that someday we’ll meet again
And should the memories of that smile I think of,
Come rain or shine, fade away into the distance
In loneliness and yearning – my feelings for you, a stream of tears
If only we could meet, if only we could meet – my feelings for you, a stream of tears
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This is a famous song in Japan which the Japanese, young or old, enjoy singing or listening to in Karaoke. The songwriter, Ryoko Moriyama, wrote this song in memory of her brother who died very young. The most touching words in it are the following: "And if you can see me, from where you are, I’ll live on, believing that someday we’ll meet again." When I hear these words, my father is the one who comes up to my mind. A year after my father passed away, I was driving alone along the coast and heard this song playing from the car radio. All of a sudden, my father's smiling face appeared in my mind. I stopped my car and looked at the ocean for a while. Since then this song became unforgettable as it connects my father and me. Our family belongs to Pure Land School, one of the Mahayana Buddhism sects. In the Pure Land Buddhism there is a belief that the people who have belief in this religion can meet together at the Pure Land after they die. As this song says, I have a strong belief that I will see my father again at the Pure Land.

My father was victimized in a serious crime seven years ago. Since it was a very special case, the local police did not investigate it. Instead the police considered his death to be suicide, but I do not know actually why and how my father died. One day in 2004 I came home past midnight after work. The lights in the living room and the stairs, which were usually off around this time, were on. My father, who was supposed to be sleeping in the room, was not there. I went to the bathroom and was freaked out. My brain stopped functioning and my legs started shaking. I could not move an inch for a while. In front of my eyes there was literal the sea of blood. The blood became a clot and was stuck in the drain. It was like a small swimming pool made of human blood. On the bath tub cover, there was a disposal medical knife with blood. I was totally lost. An hour later, two officers from the local police rang the door bell of my house. I opened the door. One of them said: “Are you the son of Koichiro-san?” I answered: “Yes.” He said: “Your father was delivered to a hospital by ambulance but he died there at 3:06 am.” I could not understand what he was talking about immediately. For the next whole week, I was strongly wishing that everything had been just a bad dream and I could eventually wake up from this nightmare…, but it was not a dream. In fact there was some evidence that he was involved in so called organized crime. Although later I tried to make the police investigate this case, they were too frightened to do it. Therefore, the perpetrators have not been found yet and they are still free.

I was also blackmailed when I tried to disclose this incident to the public through the Internet. They threatened me several times but no one offered me help. People around admit that my father was a very kind and warm-hearted person and everyone liked him. He did nothing wrong. Why did he have to suffer like that? Why can the criminals be enjoying their free life now? What is justice? What is the truth? What is the meaning of our life and death? Nobody seemed to be able to answer my desperate questions. As is often the case with people in such a serious crisis, I totally lost the purpose of life.

Fortunately, however, I was not so weak-minded to either commit suicide or to be taken into cult religions and blindly follow the wrong people. Instead, I began seeking the answer by myself. I read and read a lot of books on psychology, Western and Eastern philosphy and religion, and whatever fields that appealed to me. Among the others Buddhism fit me the most. For instance, verse 62 in Dhammapada says, "These sons belong to me, and this wealth belongs to me," with such thoughts a fool is tormented. He himself does not belong to himself; how much less sons and wealth?” I was able to understand that suffering arises from attachment. Despite of the fact that I cannot change the past, I was still tied with the past events, which caused my suffuring. Nevertheless, I realized that something that I am not able to control does not belong to me; thus the suffering I was going through was not supposed to belong to me, either. The discovery of the cause of suffering helped me find a way to deal with my problem objectively. Only this way was I able to alleviate my heartache.

That became the beginning of my serious journey inside religion which goes on till now. However, it was not merely the knowledge received from books that saved me from the crisis. Even before this incident I faced severe difficulties several times through my adolescence to early adulthood in which I would feel like dying sometimes. What made me continue my life was the memory of my mother. She died of cancer when I was seven. In spring of the year when I started going to elementary school, she felt a strong pain in her stomach and got hospitalized. She got out from the hospital one day to attend my school entrance ceremony, but she immediately went back to the hospital. When the doctor examined her stomach, she was already at the terminal stage of stomack cancer. The doctor explained to my father that my mother might last for only one more month. Her pain was so terrible that she sometimes fell down from the hospital bed in the middle of the night, but she overcame it and lived the whole summer.
On a hot day of the following fall, my sister, who was a student of the same elementary school, came to my classroom accompanied with her teacher. We were told to head to the hospital where my mother was right away. A taxi was already waiting for us near the school. We dashed to the hospital choosing the fastest road. The driver paid the toll road fare from his money for us. We reached the hospital and he said, “Go to your mother. Quick!” In the room of the hospital, she lied semiconscious on the bed with an oxygen mask on her mouth and tubes in her nose. She was breathing miserably. Her friends talked to her desperately but she could not answer any more. My father stood beside her silently enduring the sorrow with his arms folded. This was the first and the last time in my life I saw tears in his eyes.

In later years, my father would often tell me and my sister that until the very last moment she could talk, my mother kept saying, “I do not want to die. I have to take care of my children. I am so worried about them.” At her funeral, the Buddhist preist said, “Your mother goes on living in your heart. So you do not have to feel lonely.” Since then, it became my habit to think whether I might disappoint her doing something wrong if she were alive when I reflect upon my deeds. Besides, every time I faced difficult time, I thought of my mother, who could not live even though she wanted to. Each time my memory of her helped me out. Last year I became the same age as her when she passed away. Becoming the same age as she, I realized how tough it was for her to leave us. Today as well, I truly appreciate her affection to us till the very end of her life. In this sense she does stay alive in my mind.

Later in my mid-twenties I quit college and began working although I was studying at one of the most prestigious universities in Japan. I took the exams to apply to military officer candidate school, which was my career goal, but I failed. At the same time I broke up with my girlfriend although both of us were considering marriage. I was so frustrated that I had a fight with my colleague at work because of a trivial case and I got fired. Maybe this was the first crisis in my life. My friend’s family, who were Christians, sometimes invited me to their gatherings to cheer me up. One day they encouraged me to convert to Christianity. I knew they sincerely cared about me, but I felt believing in God was something different from what I was supposed to devote myself to. They insisted that it was impossible to overcome adversities without relying on God. They also said that the reason I did not feel like relying on God was I just had not faced the real problems yet. I agreed that we would need someone else’s help mentally. However, for me it was not a Christian God but the memory of my mother. Anyway, as they said, it turned out to be true that I had not yet faced the real suffering until my father’s death.

On the morning of the day my father died, he came to my room and said just a few words. He mentioned his disappointment about my unsuccessful life. Since my academic success had been his pride, my father said that my quitting the prestigious university was the saddest incident in his life that let him down the most harshly. Being upset, I ignored him. This became the last “conversation” with him in my life. At that moment never did I imagine that on the very next early morning, he would be back home dead. Several years later I decided to go back to college to complete the degree.

In January 2009, I came to Pasadena City College to restart my studying. However, I got terrible grades at the first semester. I almost faced academic probation. In the next semester also, I was not confident about my academic skills, either. One day there was an annual Buddhist ritual at the local temple to honor the ancestors. I attended it and there suddenly I had a strong feeling that it was not only for my own benefit to graduate from a university. It was my father’s wish as well. In addition, I remembered half of the money for my studying is available from my own savings but the other half is from my father’s life insurance money. Literally, this is the money my father left at the expense of his life. Therefore, no matter how old I become, in order to fulfill my father’s expectation, it is important to complete the college study. Remembering this obligation and gratitude to my father, I am truly serious about my college studying. I try not to waste even a single day. Since then, my grades improved greatly. I became very confident with my life.

I still have a couple of more years at University of the West to achieve an udergraduate diploma which is my academic pursuit. Nevertheless, at least I have faith now that I am on the right path toward my life goal. Now I am studying hard at this Buddhist college and I am also living as religious a life as possible to see my parents someday in the Pure Land. I want to say “Thank you” to them, and “Sorry” to my father when I reach there.

*Anonymous translation found in the following web site:
[ http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/jungchiu/2Music.html]

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yenu

Author:yenu
The Writer of 『拝啓 ギャングストーカー犯罪者の皆様』(Dear COINTELPRO Criminals) and <集団ストーカーの死> The Death of Gangstalker; also Co-Editor of 「新しいタイプの人権侵害・暴力」 Unprecedented Human Rights Violation

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