Revering the Light of the Buddha,
Reflecting upon my imperfect self,
I will strive to live a life of gratitude.
~ 2nd verse of ”Shin Buddhist Life Principles”
Shin Buddhist Service Book
“Times, they are a changin” is definitely a good lyric written by Bob Dylan. It can describe the changes we see through nature. The nights are longer, and the air is cool and crisp. We also see it in wildlife. The squirrels are fattening up and storing up for the weather to come, even the mice are plumping up. We can also see it in ourselves. We are starting to eat more comfort and heartier meals. However, it does not matter that light is fading sooner, for it is the light of Amida Buddha that continues to shine bright and strong.
When we had study class in September, we were left with just a bit of sunlight. There was a different feel to the weather and temperature. I do love this time of year. There is the end of summer vegetation and the beginning of autumn seasonal foods and there, of course, are pumpkins. Oooh, I love to make pumpkin pies. The aroma of pie that linger inspires a relaxing time.
Autumn gives us time to reenergize our mind and body. It is a time of hot cinnamon tea with a slice of pie. We warm our bodies, but do we give thought to the teachings and what warms our thoughts toward the understanding of Namu Amida Butsu?
While sitting and having our snack, we can stimulate our minds in another way. We can ponder about the present, the here and now. We can think what journeys and adventures we experienced and what we have learned from them. It can be a time to renew and deepen our entrusting in the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha.
Our Namu Amida Butsu can share guidance, but it is only within us to search and evaluate. We have so many teachings that we tend to get confused to what they are. We have the Six Paramitas, Eightfold Path, Shin Buddhist life principles and The Golden Chain, just to name a few. But do we make the effort to read, learn, and understand them? When we cannot recall the principles we are fortunate to have Nembutsu (Namu Amida Butsu) to share and give wisdom and compassion. With this unhindered wisdom and compassion, we can free ourselves from the realm of birth-and-death.
Well, that was not difficult. Our path is said to be easy. It is simply Namu Amida Butsu. Even though it sounds like an easy path, there is a step that has to be investigated and that is our Nembutsu. We always recite it at temple or if someone asks to Gassho, but why do we recite it? Our recitation of Nembutsu is stirred through true heart and mind so that we can attain joy and peace.
Deep in our hearts and minds, we express without doubt our Nembutsu. There is no magical or miraculous feel in Nembutsu; it is simply true entrusting to deliver us from this realm birth-and-death to a level of joy and peace. In Shinran Shonin’s words, “How joyous I am…deeply aware of Tathagata (Buddha) immense compassion and I sincerely revere the benevolent care behind the masters’ teaching activity.”
We do not have to be scholars or philosophers, we are who we are and we only have to listen, learn and think about our Nembutsu. The answers are there, we only have to take the time to search within ourselves. Autumn is a good time for rejuvenation, comfort food and as always Namu Amida Butsu.
Gassho, Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano