“All things are constantly changing;
work out your salvation with diligence”
Final words of the Buddha
There is a story of a very devote Buddhist. His name was Genza. Others held him in high esteem and his name was known throughout the country. A Kyoto publishing company approached him to write his biography. They wanted to know of his upbringing, his spiritual awakening, and his religious life.
At the age of 86, Genza replied to the publisher that it was soon to write such a story. In his eyes, he said that he might do something bad and land in jail. He knew he was an evil man and he could at any do an evil act. Genza’s was aware of his true self-centered self and this made him reflect more closely on what he truly was.
We have a tendency to criticize others without examining ourselves first. We make hasty decisions and say words without thinking. We use our words and actions to hurt and cause injury. We tend to forget what the true meaning of the Golden Chain teaches and we seem ignorant of its teachings. What are our true intentions behind our actions? Is it out of ego or for the benefit of others?
Genza did not look at others and their doings, but kept a careful watch over himself. Genza was grateful to his friends, the world as he lived it, and to Amida Buddha that made his life possible. However, it was Genza’s wisdom of seeing things as it was and that he saw this as his gift of life. In the Buddhist sense, it was by the virtue of Amida Buddha’s compassion that gave him so much to share with others. He was a thankful and grateful follower.
At times we act on our ego without thought and we begin to see this as our true self. We criticize others without positive solutions. We never share a word of encouragement or support. We become angry because there is a five-year-old child inside of us that wants attention. However, if we stop and examine the why to this behavior we will see that it is simply our ego.
Sharing a positive word or stopping to think is a step toward learning to be like Genza. We refuse to acknowledge our faults because it can make us look as imperfect beings. Surprisingly, we are not perfect and mistakes are made every day. Where is our compassion for others or are we so perfect in actions and behavior that we can cause injury on others?
Before we criticize others, we must examine our selves first. We must examine what and why we are behaving as such? We can recite Namu Amida Butsu to take a breather so that we do not hurt others. We can recite Namu Amida Butsu before those criticizing words destroys friendships or embarrasses ourselves.
Shinran Shonin continues to try to teach us to look within. The teachings are lessons of self-examination. Therefore, it is the individual who must want to be kind and protect those weaker than ourselves. It is Namu Amida Butsu that guides and teaches. Yet, it is the individual who is responsible for change and to follow the Golden Chain.
Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano