Minister’s August 2016 Message
Saichi, what is your joy?
The world of delusion is my joy.
It contains the seeds of relishing the Dharma.
Namu Amida Butsu is blooming everywhere.
Verse of Myokonin Saichi from the book, Great Compassion
In the Japanese culture, we are not prone to a display of emotions. However there are certain gestures that can express more of what we feel in our actions. It has been a custom that when two Japanese people meet that they would bow to each other. It is a sign of respect and greeting. But what shows respect is how low each person bows to each other. This shows the degree of reverence they have for each other. When I received my first hug from a Sangha member, I was taken aback, but now it has become a norm. Instead of extending our hands, we put our arms around a person in acknowledgement of their presence, in gratitude or just to say hello. It is kimochi, a heartfelt warmth, and respect for that person.
I learned a very important lesson many years ago. I would shout my goodbyes to my parents and say I was leaving or returning home, but to kiss or hug them? That was unheard of. It was until a family friend told me that we always kiss our parents whether leaving or returning home. It was a way of telling them how much we missed them, to thank them for worrying about our welfare and for teaching us to make the right decisions. We never know where our journeys may take us but when we return safely, it is a kiss and hug in gratitude.
Our Nembutsu is the same as a kiss or hug. Although we cannot hug or kiss Namu Amida Butsu, we can be grateful for leading us to hear and thankful for always being available to us. Sometimes we forget to recite Nembutsu; however, it is always there whenever we want and need it. Like our parents who fretted when we went past our curfew or if we “partied” too much, our Nembutsu guides and directs us to look within our selves to examine what we truly are. Nembutsu helps us to see the “bumps in the road” and how to compensate for the distress. It is a hearing and learning experience that allows us to examine what path to take. We can be assured our Nembutsu will always lead us home.
If we hit that bump, Nembutsu makes us stop and think. Unlike our parents who would “ground” us or take privileges away, our Namu Amida Butsu helps us to slow down and think and hear that inner voice inside. We question if we truly are the way we are or if we are just experimenting with growing up. It is our Nembutsu that helps to find who and what we truly are in the inside.
Our Namu Amida Butsu can be a learning tool. It does not force us to be anything but “just as we are.” By listening to our recitation of Nembutsu, we can awaken to the teachings of the Buddha and Shinran Shonin. However, we must first hear the words and let it “sink” in. Our entrusting may be instantaneous or it may take a bit more maturity on our part, but we are assured that Namu Amida Butsu is easily accessible and it patiently awaits us. We are thankful and grateful for patience, thoughtfulness, and perseverance of Nembutsu waiting for our awakening to the Truth.
Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano