The most powerful way to change
The world is to live our lives in
Front of our children the way
We would like the world to be.
~Graham R. White
In the 1950s a mother’s “job” was centered in the home. They were the cooks, house cleaners, babysitters, or caregivers among other occupations that was called for. As a farmer’s wife, these mothers also worked the fields alongside their husbands and field workers. Parents realized this was not an occupation for their children; therefore, many parents encouraged their children to attain college degrees. They wanted their children to have a better life without the toiling in the fields or bent over picking vegetables under a blazing sun. Times have changed and many mothers are now having a job outside the home.
Each year in May, we share our thanks and show our gratitude and love to mothers on Mother’s Day. We shower them with flowers, a day out, dinner, or even a vacation. Our mothers have always shared love unconditionally, even when they were disciplining us or giving us a scolding. This is a special day to show our appreciation for the mother’s sacrifice, support, compassion, and wisdom they always shared and continue to share. Both mothers and fathers show us the path that will help spread our wings.
Mothers want the best for us and we show our gratitude to them on this day. Although my mother had passed over 35 years ago, it is always thank you in the form of Nembutsu for what she shared and taught me. I thank my mother for instilling a good sense of responsibility, work ethics, and unconditional love. She encouraged and showed me that I have the ability to think and for the beginnings of my Nembutsu.
This is a very special time for our mothers, but we have another important date in Jodo Shinshu history and that is Gotan-E or Shinran Shonin’s birthday. There is usually no big celebration, whistles, and bells or even a birthday cake. In fact, sometimes we forget this important date. If we think about it, if Shinran Shonin did not entrust in Nembutsu and was committed to teaching others, we would not have Jodo Shinshu.
He was a brilliant person who lived a life of Nembutsu. The gift for Shinran came in the form of seeing others who wanted to learn and hear the Buddha Dharma. He was a person who did not discriminate between male, female, children, rich or poor, literate, illiterate, old or young. However, his spreading of the teachings was and continues to be our gift from him. We are the birthday person, for Shinran Shonin’s gift is still alive and we can hear it anytime. We think that it is the birthday person who receives the presents, but it is really us who are given the treasures and gifts of the Dharma and Namu Amida Butsu.
As we share our thanks and gratitude to our mothers, we can also put our palms together in Gassho. We can wish “Happy Birthday, Shinran Shonin” as we say Namu Amida Butsu to our mothers. It is also Namu Amida Butsu to Shinran Shonin for leaving us teachings that are still applicable for us today.
Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano