Minister’s May 2016 Message
…Right Views: To keep free of prejudices and superstitions
and to see the true nature of life.
…Right Meditation: to study the teachings of the Buddha
and to practice them to the best of our abilities.
2 directions of The Eightfold Path of Happiness
We have friends from many years past. We do not like to admit how far back some of our friendships are, but we can still remember the first encounter with them. I have a college pal and our friendship has spanned over 40 years. In fact after college we remained housemates. My mother came to treat her like a daughter and spoke Japanese to her, even though she is Native American.
We met through a mutual friend. A mutual friend and I went to the airport to pick her up for she was to attend law school. We drove back to Boulder, Colorado, and stopped at my favorite ribs restaurant. As we were getting acquainted with each other, this soon-to-be friend ate most of my ribs. I got one and she ate the rest. My eyes filled with anger and I was ready to lash out, then to my surprise she ordered two more plates. Well, you can guess I was one happy camper and she remains a friend forever!
During this friendship we faced many struggles together as well as happy moments. We suffered together with breakups with boyfriends, losing parents, illness, and unemployment. My friend never allowed me to be without a job. She always told me. “…You cannot sit at home, eat bon bons, and watch soap operas, while I have to work. Besides you have to pay half of the rent!”
Among longtime friends, we also have brief encounters with complete strangers. We may see them at the store, while taking our walks or as we visit sick friends at the hospital. The nurses take one look and they remember who you are visiting. They smile and always say hello. When we are recognized, we begin to feel as though we are not alone. Sometimes the nurses will tell you if the friend had a bad night or what type of mood they may be in. It is nice to know that there are very kind people everywhere. For brief moments, they are not strangers but friends.
Our first impressions can be judgmental and subjective. We seem to judge others even before getting to know them. Is this the teachings of Nembutsu, The Golden Chain, or the Eightfold Path? We tend to forget the meaning of the words and we show who we actually are.
We have to remember that we also make first impressions of ourselves on others. These strangers can also pick up on our moods by either the scowl or smile on our faces. It is understandable that our situations or problems may be weighing heavily on our minds, yet our demeanor can also be scary at times.
Although these encounters may not be the type we like, we can choose to ignore or react. However, when we are in a “slump,” we can whisper Namu Amida Butsu. This is our brief moment of escape from our struggles. It is an opportunity to breathe and give thought. It is our Namu Amida Butsu that settles the mind. It is also our gratitude for giving us the opportunity to break away from our suffering. Even though our sufferings are every moment of everyday, we have teachings and Nembutsu to entrust in. We only have to open our hearts and minds and maybe the solutions are right before us.
But our awakening, awareness, realization, or entrusting emanates within us. It does not change our greed, anger, ignorance, or ego, but it can free us from negative thoughts of the moment. We continue to be who we are but maybe with less judgment when we do have brief encounters.
Yet it is with an open heart, mind, and eyes that we see our true self. It will not happen all that very moment of time, but maybe more frequently. With true heart and mind, our Namu Amida Butsu can guide us to see “outside of the box” we surround ourselves in.
Gassho, Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano
(It’s easy to judge. It’s more difficult to understand. Understanding requires compassion, patience, and a willingness to believe that good hearts sometimes choose poor methods. Through judging, we separate. Through understanding, we grow. – Doe Zantamata)