Treasures of the Heart
Dr. Ewe Ghee Goh and Eve Goh share how they live with a heart of appreciation.
by Dr. Ewe Ghee and Eve Goh
World Tribune: Thank you for sharing your experience with us. How did you learn the spirit of faith?
Eve Goh: At the start of my practice, I accompanied pioneer members to visit and encourage other members. It was so inspiring to see the incredible care and attention they gave to each person. They would mostly listen—always encouraging, treating every member as an absolute treasure. I would just sit there and listen as they shared SGI President Ikeda’s guidance to never retreat in the face of obstacles.
I wasn’t proud of my life then. I had left my first marriage with absolutely nothing. But doing activities made me feel alive. In those early days, I went to meetings even when the train fare was more than I could afford. I didn’t realize it then, but these pioneer members were training me to stand up for kosen-rufu and to gain the strength to transform my own destiny.
Dr. Ewe Ghee Goh: Early on, I faced the potential bankruptcy of my pediatric practice, and was having horrible nightmares and panic attacks. As I chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon, however, I realized that I was putting my debts in the center of my life, not the Gohonzon. Once I began chanting earnestly, with unshakable conviction in the Gohonzon, it felt as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I felt relief even before we received good news from an investment partner that we were able to avoid bankruptcy.
Over the years, we’ve made consistent efforts to support kosen-rufu in America, including financial offerings that have become an ever-deepening expression of our vow to advance kosen-rufu in the United States. Recently, we were reminded of the tremendous fortune we’ve accumulated over the years.
WT: Tell us what happened.
Dr. Goh: We bought a home in Dallas in 1994, after chanting seriously for a place where we could hold SGI activities. It also happened to be very close to a hospital.
We realized the deep significance of this location, when, in October 2013, I woke up in the middle of the night with deep pressure in my chest. I was experiencing a heart attack of the variety that doctors call “the widow maker.” Eve drove me to the hospital in seven minutes. The cardiologists put a stent in my artery, which was 98.8 percent obstructed. The whole process took less than 90 minutes, and I recovered.
Mrs.Goh: My turn came almost exactly a year to the day later. I had developed a worrisome cough. As a result, I ended up having a series of tests, and the doctors discovered something completely unrelated: I had a critical ascending aorta aneurysm. They usually don’t find one until it ruptures and then that’s it. You’re gone.
Before a very risky open-heart surgery, the surgeon said, “I want you to think of something beautiful.” I realized that this might be my very last memory in this lifetime, so I said to all the doctors and nurses in the room, “I want to tell you about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.” My last thought before the surgery was, “Who can I tell about this practice?”
During my recovery, I was able to introduce this Buddhism to some 30 people at the hospital. The intensive care unit was literally Eagle Peak!
Dr. Goh: Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Buddhism teaches that, when the Buddha nature manifests itself from within, it will receive protection from without” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 106). At a crucial moment like this, you see the cumulative effects of your practice.
When Eve was still in the hospital, we made a determination together that when she recovered, we were going to visit the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu in Tokyo. We wanted to offer our appreciation to Sensei and to renew our vow as proud sponsors of American kosen-rufu.
WT: This month is the time when SGI-USA members participate in the May Commemorative Contribution activity. As longtime contributors, how did going to the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu affect your spirit?
Mrs. Goh: We just returned. It was so powerful; everywhere we went there were SGI members, especially the youth, smiling and guiding us. They were so caring and kind.
It reminded me how there was nothing when second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda came out of prison [after World War II, where he had been jailed as a thought criminal]. The Soka Gakkai was thought of as the religion of the poor and the sick. And now here are the most magnificent buildings and gardens right in the middle of Tokyo, all because of the fortune that’s been accumulated by the members.
And I thought, I limit myself! I need to expand my life, my prayer and my courage, as Sensei says. I will keep reminding myself of the images we saw of President Ikeda, because in each one, with every person he was talking to, he was taking care of the person in front of him. That’s the spirit to have, that pioneer spirit.
Dr. Goh: I feel truly fortunate, having the role of a front-line leader. It gives me a way to continually challenge my own human revolution, to consistently fulfill my vow with youthful determination. No matter what age I am, no matter what my physical condition is, I will continue to fight and grow, to encourage the youth, to talk to people about this Buddhism and to chant to connect with Sensei’s heart. There is no retirement age in faith. And there is no end to our human revolution. We’ve been practicing for many years, but we still have that vow, down in the depths of our very being. I want to, in some small way, be able to repay my debt of gratitude to Sensei and the pioneer members, because we want kosen-rufu to go on forever, so we have to make sure it’s going to. It’s the way we can say, “Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.”