Rejoicing in the Compassion of the Buddha,
Respecting an aiding all sentient beings,
I will work towards the welfare of
Society and the world.
~from the Shin Buddhist Life Principle, fourth verse.
According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of “value” is the importance of worth or usefulness of something. It is also a person’s principle or standard of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life. Values differ in all individuals.
While we are sill healthy, have our mental faculties, have a loving family, enough money to live comfortably, and we still talk and walk, life seems good. We still have our memories of the past, of youth, and the good times of life. We value what people will say about us when we are gone. This is a value of life that eventually will fade with time.
Yet, these are treasures we cherish. However, we never seem happy with just these. We do not want it to end. We try to hold on to these things. But it is our blind passions of greed, anger, ignorance, and ego that have us to believe we need more.
The value of life is a continuing list that we add to. Our list changes hour-by-hour, day-by-day, month-by-month, and year-by-year. Who is to know what our value of life will be at the end?
But have you ever given though to what life’s value is, in other words, what is value in life? These two phrases of value of life and value in life differ in meaning. We have many teachings in our sect of Buddhism, yet value in life is another mindset. What we value in life can be seen as wisdom. This is knowing or thinking for the betterment of others, as well as for ourselves. All living things contribute to our value in life by some means. Yes, this includes rodents. There are times when we will have to decide or choose, but it is through that wisdom that we make decisions wisely, without prejudice and discrimination.
We value in life our integrity, which is to know and do what is right. We will make mistakes for we are imperfect beings, filled with erring ways. Yet we have some sense of wisdom; we only have to learn to listen to this wisdom.
Value in life can be something called respect. We try to treat others the way we want to be treated. We try understanding their feelings, traditions, wishes, and rights. This respect can come in the form of listening. We share our time with others and try to listen. We do not always have to agree with them, but to share our ears to hear whey they do say can help us to understand their thoughts, feelings, and ideals. We can acknowledge their presence with a sense of kindness, saying thank you, politeness, and our offering of Namu Amida Butsu.
A value in life can be the freedom to think. We can think whatever, whenever we want. However it is how our actions present those thoughts. If our actions are shown in a negative way, we only create negative results. Yes, we do have the freedom to think. Yet, before taking actions we must give thought of our cause an effect on others. We value in life that freedom, and yet we can also abuse that freedom because of our ego.
Value in life may be seen as responsibility. It can be seen as an opportunity to contribute to society, family, and to our own well-being. It can be a moral, legal, or mental obligation for the betterment of others. It is a show of protection, care, and guidance. Responsibility is made through good judgment. It is also an ability to act correctly and make decision on our own, no matter if negative or positive. Our responsibility is our contribution to society, family, friends, and ourselves through reliability and trustworthiness.
We can value in life service for the common good. It is our sharing of help to others and giving back without asking for anything in return. We could not have achieved any gains without the help of others. It has taken many people to come to our rescue and to help lead us in the right direction.
We could not have life without the generations of ancestors, parents, teachers, and even strangers. Their brief moments have contributed to our learning. They have freely given adventures, journeys, and avenues to explore. What we have gained is through the service of others for our benefit.
We can share our service through our Namu Amida Butsu in gratitude and thankfulness. We have been granted with the ability of the usage of our six senses. We can still see, smell, hear, taste, feel, and to use the mind to think.
We may not always remember the Buddha or Shinran Shonin’s teachings, but we have value of life and value in life through our Nembutsu. When asked what these values are, words are hard to find. These questions cannot be readily answered. But we have the capability to think.
We have Namu Amida Butsu to help us to search within us to find those words. A brief story, during this journey of discovery, I was stumped. It was Namu Amida Butsu that I was able to find the words to write. It is Namu Amida Butsu that is a value in life that is a treasure that I can keep deep within the heart and mind.
As always, be safe, stay healthy and Namu Amida Butsu.
In Gassho, Reverend Naomi Seijo Nakano