Forgive me for this long story today.
It was January 2001, when my family came to the US from Japan. After seven years of wonderful life here in LA, we decided that all my family except for me would go back to Japan for mainly kids’ educational needs. They left LA last November. And February 1 was the day of my son’s entrance exam for the middle school in Tokyo.
The school said that they would announce the registration numbers of those who passed the exam on the web at 10pm on February 1st. I woke up before 5am on LA time, which is 10pm on Tokyo time of that day, and opened the school website. My son’s number was not there. Oh, he failed.
Luckily the entrance exam system of that middle school is designed so that students can take the exam on the following day again. I called to my wife in Tokyo. Although she knew that there is a second chance tomorrow, she was very much upset. She was feeling sorry for him that she could not give enough support for him, because she needed to spend most of her time for a daughter. She is an LD (Learning Disability) student and my wife was helping her prepare for a high school entrance exam for the last three months. I could hear my wife crying, holding a cell phone.
I said, “You have done everything you could. He will pass the next one!.” In my mind, however, I could not help but feeling uneasy too. “What will happen if he fails the next one again?” “He should have applied another middle school too…” . These thoughts repeatedly came up and occupied my mind. In this mindset, passing the exam has become the sole cause of my family’s happiness.
Recognizing this, but still holding the attached feeling of wishing his passing the exam, I started reciting the Lotus Sutra to gain calmness, mindfulness, and strength to see the reality of all existence. When in the midst of confusion, illusion, and attachment, we cannot see it all.
Through reciting, I came to realize that we have done all we could do. Whatever the result is, it is the best result. We can start from there and build our future together.
One phrase in the Meditation Sutra came into my eyes;
“He must read the Great-Vehicle sutras and recite them, think of the meaning of the Great-Vehicle and reflect over its practice, and see all people in the same way as the Buddha see them, and treat living begins in the same way as father and mother treat their children.” ("The Threefold Lotus Sutra", by Bunno Kato)
I recalled how much my parents, particularly my mother, worried about me and prayed for me when I was taking exams for schools. Then right away I called my parents’ home in Japan. My mother nowadays became very weak and mostly stays in bed. But it was she who took the phone. I talked the story and expressed my appreciation to her. She said, “Well, I forgot what I did for you, my son.” But I remember what she did for me and I remember all the love I have received from my parents. And I realized that all blessings I have received from parents are always here with me, no matter whether my son will pass or will not pass the exam.
My wife went to offer a prayer to the Buddha at the Great Sacred Hall, where she met two of her best mentors. She received supportive words from them, similar to what I recognized.
We talked on the phone again;
“Every incident is Buddha's compassion for our awakening. Thanks to this experience, we were able to reflect on ourselves. Let our son do the exam, and let ourselves do what we need to do.”
My son took the exam again. In the following early morning, I jumped out from a bed and tuned on the computer. I found an email from my wife….
Thank you, Buddha.