I am in the accounting profession and like other profession face up and downs in my career too. When I was at a lost as to what I should do with all the unhappiness in my daily existence, my sister asked senior Soka leader
Mr. Michael Tan to talk to me sometime in 2002.
He sat down with me for 4 straight hours at a coffee shop near my house and told me about his life experience. He also spent a lot of effort explaining his Buddhist practice and how he overcame his life struggles in the past 20 years of his practice. He told me to chant NAM MYOHO RENGE GYO and visit the Buddhist Kaikan.
I asked Michael if I need to pay money to visit the Kaikan and he told me it is free. Michael also took pains to explain Buddhist concepts to me and told me I can read up about Buddhist practice through SOKA publications
Creative Life and SSA Times. He also told me that the Soka practice has spread to almost 200 countries in the world. Although I am not totally convinced then, I can see that Mr Michael Tan was sincere in wanting me to improve my life condition and overcome my struggles.
After my first meeting with Mr Michael Tan, I decided to take up practice and started to chant daimoku. I also learnt Gongyo easily and started to visit Buddhist Kaikan for meetings and funeral rites. I also received Gohonzon in October 2002.
However, my life did not improve dramatically at the start. I quit my job in 2004 after facing some difficulties with colleagues. I then sold books on the street and went cold calling, facing frequent rejections. I then joined the teaching profession for one year in 2005 but found that it is really not my cup of tea.
I then joined a small local trading company in Sin Ming as an accountant. With the switch from my previous job to teaching and accounting position, I face a steep pay cut. However, recalling the years of struggle, I was not really poor and I still managed to put food on the table.
Sometime in early 2006, I was in working as an accountant one day when I received an overseas call out of the blue to meet the CEO of an airline company for an interview. I have sent my resume out some months back and forgotten about it.
I decided to go for the interview with the Sri Lankan CEO at the Singapore Office at United Square. After the interview with the CEO, I forgot about it and was again absorbed into my accounting work. One month later, I received another overseas call from the Papua New Guinea Airline company to go to Sydney for an interview with the board directors two days later, which means I have to fly the next day.
As I was too absorbed with my work, I told the person that I am not free. Two days later, the same overseas caller called me and asked me to fly to Papua New Guinea to meet the Board of directors. I agreed and flew over. When I arrived in Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea, I was checked into a hotel near to the Airline office, in which I have been staying till to-date.
I met the board directors on the following Monday and the interview went through smoothly. I flew back Singapore on the same day and again almost forgot the whole event when the Sri Lankan CEO called me another month later to offer me an expatriate position with housing and car provided.
The pay offered was better than all the Singapore jobs that I held. I decided to take up the offer and another three months later, I resigned from my Singapore accountant job and left for Port Moresby. When I arrived, I am pleasantly surprised to be placed into a two bed room hotel residential unit facing the airport.
I do not need to pay for the rental, electricity and water bills. I was also given a car and free petrol to move around. Six months later, my wife and three daughters then 7, 11 and 12 years old left Singapore to join me in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea in Jan 2007.
I also brought my Gohonzon to Port Moresby and continued to chant, i.e. I continued my practice even after I left Singapore. Practising without the monthly SOKA support is no fun. I have no Chapter or Zone meetings, no funeral wakes, no discussion meetings to attend.
I only have Creative Life and SSA Times to refer to. Even so, sometimes Chanting can be monotonous. But I persisted with my Buddhist practice.
My three daughters applied for leave from Singapore School (Kuo Chuan Presbytarian) since Jan 2007 and continued to study in International Schools in Papua New Guinea. The school fees for the International Schools in Papua New Guinea is more expensive than Singapore university tuition fees.
I am indeed blessed to have the school fees for my three daughters being paid by my company. Although my daughters studied full time in Papua New Guinea, they set aside time every night to cover their Singapore school work on their own.
As I work for the National Airline of Papua New Guinea, my children can fly back to Singapore during Papua New Guinea school holidays to attend Singapore school. My three daughters Leong Jia Min, Leong Jia Qin and Leong Jia Yun Fiona attended a total of 4 years of full time international school in Papua New Guinea.
It is indeed a fortune that the three girls cleared their Singapore Primary School Leaving Examination without much fuss and went on to be awarded a position in Kuo Chuan Presbytarian school in Singapore. Jia Min, the eldest girl, who is 17 years old this year in 2012, became the top student in Port Moresby International School for 2 consecutive years in 2009 and 2010, even after she jumped one grade from grade 7 to grade 9 in 2009.
In 2010, Jia Min scored all “As” in IGCSE (International) exams in Port Moresby. My three daughters and my wife Jennifer then left Papua New Guinea in Jan 2011 so that my eldest daughter can prepare for her GCE O levels at the end of the year.
From Jan 2011 onwards, my wife and daughters were back in Singapore while I continue to remain in Port Moresby. In Jan 2012, Jia Min received her O level results, scoring 8 straight As (4A1s and 4 A2s). Jia Min’s GCE O level results is remarkable, considering the fact that she was away from Singapore for 4 years, and she missed 3 years of Secondary school in Singapore.
My youngest daughter Fiona, also scored well enough in her PSLE results to get into Ang Mo Kio Secondary School in 2012. My second daughter, Jia Qin did well enough to become the top student in Port Moresby International School in 2010 (Grade 9). After Jia Qin returned Singapore in 2011, Jia Qin also did well enough to be among the top few in her class in Kuo Chuan Secondary School in Sec 3, even though she was also away for 4 years.
While my three daughters became Soka Future Division members and participated in Chingay parade in 2012, my wife Jennifer is now busy with the her Sunshine aunty role. My three daughters also chant regularly everyday and strongly feel that chanting help them overcome problems in their school work.
For my case, my work in the National Airlines of Papua New Guinea, as usual, went through ups and downs. Despite the difficulties, my contract with the Airline was renewed for another 3 years from 2009 as the Board of directors were very happy with my work. In the past 5 years, my family and I visited Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and lately Tokyo.
My expatriate contract enabled me to fly with the National Airline of Papua New Guinea on a very low cost basis. As such, my family and I can fly back and forth from Papua New Guinea and Singapore every two to three months.
In the latest trip to Tokyo, I did not have to pay for my family and my air tickets. We visited Toda Sensei Kaikan in Shinjuku and got a warm reception from the Japanese leaders. We also visited Min On Cultural Centre and listened to Piano recital by a very sweet young Japanese lady. We then went to visit Soka bookstore further down the street before ending up at the Shinjuku Kaikan and did evening Gongyo there.
Although we did not understand the Japanese lecture, we could feel the sincerity as the Japanese members laughed as the speech went on. Although I wanted to bring my children to Tokyo Disneyland, they told me they would rather visit Soka University, which is a good one hour away by train from Shinjuku, Tokyo. We visited Soka University a day before we left Tokyo and we were glad the weather was perfect.
We walked around the huge campus compound and my daughters were impressed with the facilities. The scenery was great and we all love it. At the Soka University exchange program centre, we met a Singaporean Nanyang Technological University exchange program student, who advised us on enrolment into Soka University.
Owing to language barrier, my daughters will have to study Japanese full time for another year before they can be enrolled into Singapore University and as such, will need to give a serious thought to Soka University program in the near future.
I must say that life is full of twist and turns and many people suffer untold misery. For me, I received many good benefits during my 10 years of Soka Buddhist practice. The biggest benefit is actually not the material possessions that I acquired over these past 10 years of consistent practice.
It is crucial that my family members are healthy and my children studied well. For myself, the biggest benefit I got these past 10 years is to be able to wake up every morning and find peace with yourself internally and with universe.
I had strived to improve my human relations skills through human revolution and must say I can still improve further. I must thank senior leader Mr Michael Tan who introduced me to my Soka Buddhist practice.
I would also like to thank Mr Phua Thye Juat, Serangoon South Man Division Leader, who has not stop encouraging me all these years through my practice. I would also like to thank Soka International President Ikeda Sensei who provided us with the opportunity to practise Buddhism.
Also I would like to thank all Singapore Soka leaders who has guided Singapore Soka to what it is today. I will continue to practise Soka Buddhism and find opportunity to share my experience with others so that they can benefit from good fortunes too.