Minister’s Message – April 2022

“Relationships are based on 4 principles:

Respect, understanding, acceptance,

And appreciation.”

~Mahatma Gandhi

We will have many types of connection to something or someone during our lifetime. It may called relationships. These relationships can be very complicated or simple at times. It is a work of art that is never-ending on our part, as well as for others. It takes courage, strength, and imagination on our part to put an action into making a relationship. Whatever the type of relationship, it involves association and communication with others and/or a bond that unites us, sometimes for a length of time or just for a moment.

However in order to expand our horizons, it takes 4 principles to make a relationship. These simple words we have all heard, yet very difficult to explain to others. It means that the person has to be open and honest. My mother was the type of person who could turn a 5-minute conversation into a relationship with complete strangers. By the end of the conversation, they seemed as though they have known each other for years. She eventually lost her sight, yet she was able to hear the dilemma one is having or she would just start talking with the person next to her. She “sensed” the feelings of others and she listened. It was a trait that helped put others at ease and embarrassed me. Yet, I catch myself doing the same thing. I guess the “apple does not fall far from the tree.”

Her relationship with others begins with the word “respect.” This word has several components to its meaning. It is to put another person’s interest first or an acknowledgement of judgment, opinion, or wishes of another person. It can also center on admiration, consideration, and thoughtfulness.  My mother paid due attention to that person without judgment or opinion. After departing from this stranger, she would only say how sad or how nice that person was; no more or no less.

In relationships, we develop an understanding or recognition of someone’s nature or situation. There are many other beings that live “outside our box,” yet we tend to center our attention on ourselves. We can use understanding as a noun or adjective that can describe sympathy, empathy, and tolerance.

There is acceptance in relationships. This can be seen as a willingness or toleration of others “just as they are.”  It can be a validation of their presence in our life or moment. It is the act of receiving or welcoming people into our personal space. It can also mean to learn to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation that may arise in any relationship.

There is an appreciation that develops in any relationship. It may be a feeling or expression of gratitude. There is the beginning of understanding and value of the importance of this relationship. It may include enjoyment and a pleasant chance of meeting or the development of a deeper friendship. It is what we make of this relationship.

We do have a relationship and this relationship is with the Buddha. Through our hearing the teachings, we have come to respect, understand, accept and appreciate the teachings. The Buddha sought answers for our suffering and sorrow. We can begin to know and understand our true self.  The Buddha has led us to our awareness of how and what we think, say, hear, and learn. The Nembutsu (Namu Amida Butsu) is the acceptance of moments of encouragement or finding calm in our hectic life.

We share our appreciation through Nembutsu. With each recitation, whether with palms together or just of our thoughts of Nembutsu, we come to appreciate its working. We share our thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation for the relationship we have with the Buddha and our teacher, Shinran Shonin.

Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano

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