Minister’s Message – Feb/March 2024

Reverently entrusting myself to the teaching, practice
And realization that are the true essence of the Pure Land way,

I am especially aware of the profundity of the
Tathagata’s benevolence. Here I rejoice in what I have

Heard and extol what I have received.

~ Words of Shinran Shonin, founder of Jodo Shinshu

Throughout our lives we will experience many adventures, possibly meet new
people, see new sights and maybe even learn a new language. We learn from
these journeys. We learn about a new culture and their beliefs, which is so different
from ours. We can gain a new wisdom if we are open to hearing, listening and
seeing. We leave with these experiences stored in our hearts and minds as
memories. As we mature, hopefully we can reminisce and share the joy and even
the sadness of those journeys.

Yet, we tend to lock these experiences, journeys, and adventures somewhere
deep within our hearts and memories. Not all the past journeys were filled with joy
and some were very emotional and disheartening. However, by asking questions
and truly listening we can learn of our history. Through the stories of our loved
one’s stories, we realize their strength and resilience. We see their drive and why
they worked long and hard. Their determination was out of compassion, so the
younger generation would not have to suffer through such hardships.

It is amazing what we can learn from our loved ones, if we listen, hear and
see. When I was a child, my mother took us to see her good friend. The moment
we stepped into her home, my mother changed. She was not the Japanese mother
I knew. Her friend and my mother would only converse in Spanish. In our home, it
was either Japanese or English. My mother spoke Spanish as if it was her native
language. This was definitely a surprise and shock to my sister and me.

We never knew she could speak fluent Spanish. She then told us the story
that after leaving the camps and leaving Minnesota, they were returning to
California. Money was running low and they stopped in Nebraska to earn money.
They worked on a sheep farm where many of the workers were from Mexico. They
had to learn to speak Spanish. They knew they either submerge themselves to the
environment or remain ignorant.

Some scholars refer to Buddhism as a religion or philosophy however it is our
“way of life”. It is a way to find who and what we are. We search within to find our
true self that can change our way of seeing and hearing. When we first encounter
Buddhism, we either listen and hear the Buddha Dharma or we move on. However
those who return , hopefully continue to find some reason to utilize the teachings in
their everyday life and their meaning of Nembutsu/Namu Amida Butsu.

We can change our seeing and hearing by questioning, others and ourselves.
We can then examine the situation with objectivity and not always in the “I” form.
We want tranquilly, joy and happiness however, we learn from the opposite also.
Our loved ones tried to convey what they had to endure, but we must also
experience our own journeys with an open and true heart and mind. Life is a tough
journey filled with surprises yet, it is those surprises that can make us strong,
resilient and good teachers for others.

Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano

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