“…My Father instructed me in the path to follow since I was a child…I have
tried to follow the way he showed…:
~Foreword from Muyuge, by Lady Takeko Kujo
There seems to be a close bond between fathers and their daughters. When I was a small child, I was a “sickly” child. My mother would make okaiyu, bring me juice and take my temperature, but it was my father who would carry me and make everything seem better. It seemed as though his hugs made me feel better. His scolding was worse than a spanking. Yet I saw him as a very strong and supportive person. His belief was instilled in my life.
A life of a father can be very fulfilling, yet at times they may have to make difficult choices, Shinran Shonin had to make such a decision. He had to decide what to do with his son, Zenran, who was propagating “falsehoods” of the teachings. Zenran was said to be spreading the idea that Shinran taught him secret teachings. Shinran with sadness in his heart chose to “disown” his oldest son. As a father and parent, we can only imagine how hurt and painful it was for Shinran.
During the time of Shinran, famine, war, and natural disaster were affecting the land. His exile to Echigo was a time of confusion and poverty. His abilities were limited, yet he had a mission and that was to teach the Dharma. It was after Shinran was pardoned that his daughter, Kakushinni, began to truly know and understand her father. It was her listening and truly hearing of Nembutsu that she began to know her father’s mission. It takes maturity and “letting go” that we begin to see fathers in different ways,
Father’s Day is an American concept. It is a day we honor our fathers. Whether deceased, still alive, or future dads, we share our Namu Amida Butsu with gratitude and thankfulness for what they taught us and for what they will teach us. They shared their guidance. It has taken many generations before that our fathers have learned what they try to teach us. They did not have manuals on how to raise a family. They did what they could and the best way they knew how. They gave us a history to be proud of and this is a present to us.
We share our Namu Amida Butsu in thanking them for who we are and how we will raise our future children. Fathers give us the support and strength to be who we are. They teach us to make decisions that would further our welfare. Fathers tried to fill our lives with happiness, joy, and peace. They may have worked on days when the children went to the temple, but their heart was with the children and Nembutsu. They lived for family and their welfare.
Even though some of our fathers have passed from this earthly realm, we can still appreciate their compassion and wisdom. They worked hard to ensure us of a good home, food on the table, and clothes on our backs. We have all grown up with imperfect beings, but so are we. We forgive and continue our thanks and show them our compassion.
To all fathers, Happy Father’s Day! May it be filled with good memories and love.
Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano