Buddhism is the teaching of life
And its flow in a world of
Rev. Dr. Seigen Yamaoka
When our children take their very first step alone, our hearts are filled with joy and sorrow. When they lift their foot to step, the parents are ready to catch their little one. The moment the little one missteps, the parents are there to pick the child up and automatically think they are yet too young. There are visible changes in our children but we deny what we see. We want them to stay “little” forever. However, we know they must be given their freedom to explore, experience, and find their way.
It is the same in Buddhism. We take that very first step alone when we enter the temple. It is the unknown that bothers many newcomers. They have been to other churches but Buddhism is a mystery. Some come with preconceived ideas and it is frightening to them. However, it should be viewed as another journey into life and to find how we truly are within.
When newcomers do enter, they are comforted at the friendliness of the Sangha and how welcoming they are. The Sangha has no pretension but is ”just as they are.” The Sangha is warm and genuine in feelings. When newcomers leave, they leave smiling with new friends and hopefully a new experience into another way of life. We try to convey that our selfish ego can be changed and we can change how we hear and to be more open
Changes come from within each individual. It takes time and thinking on all of our parts. We will have many journeys in our lives, yet this journey is within our own minds and hearts. It is a time to explore, experience, hear, and think. Like little ones who take their first step, we also learn to balance and find our way.
We also learn to “let go” and are given a freedom to examine all aspects of our lives. It is a frightening first step; however, with that first step. It can open many doors. It is with Namu Amida Butsu we share in gratitude and thankfulness that there are teachings to help us to move forward into our selves. During these first steps, we will encounter missteps. However, with Namu Amida Butsu, these steps can be just another journey, adventure, or experience into life. There are so many wonderful journeys to be had, and taking that first step is the most difficult. With new experiences, we learn. In Jodo Shinshu, we do not “fear” what the next steps will be. We have the teachings and Nembutsu to catch us when we fall and to give us the strength to continue on with new adventures and journeys. Our teachings encourage us to take that one step in finding our true self. We recite Namu Amida Butsu with our hearts and minds and the journeys may be less frightening. It is the individual who must make that determination.
Gassho, Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano