Somehow, We Are All Connected
Written by Rev. Shinkai Murakami
Namu Amida Butsu
Dear all Wailuku Hongwanji families and friends, I hope all of you are well and receiving Amida Buddha’s infinite wisdom and compassion in your precious life and sharing your joyousness with others.
Wow, can you believe it is already the month of September?! Time is passing so fast! During September many of the Buddhist temples will be observing Ohigan services and trying to follow the guidance of the Buddha by rededicating ourselves through the great guidance of the Buddha Dharma. However, Wailuku Hongwanji will be postponing our Autumn Ohigan service until October 31, 2021.
The other day my wife and I received a gift from our daughter. It was one of those ancestry testing kits, where you can discover your origin through DNA by submitting your saliva. Science technology is moving so fast and evolving beyond my imagination! (Maybe I am kind of old… feels like I’m using a bicycle while today’s society is flying by on jets!) My wife did the first DNA test kit we received, first. A few weeks later she received her result and discovered that there are so many third, fourth, and fifth cousins all over the world. A month later I sent my saliva to the company. About three weeks later I received my results and discovered that I belong to a family of Neanderthals from Africa who traveled to east Asia many thousands of years ago and settled in a place called Japan. According to the report, my ancestors are from Hiroshima, Tokyo, Kagoshima, and Wakayama. According to my family’s record, my family was originally from inland sea areas between Hiroshima and Ehime. The results indicated that I am 100% Japanese and there are so many cousins in Japan that I don’t know. However, what made me more surprised was that there are so many other cousins not only in Japan, but also all over the World who had the same DNA as me! Those people are not only Japanese nationals but also from many different Countries and different Nationalities. Some of the distant cousins provided their email address and pictures with their results; with that information, I am now able to contact them and introduce myself as a relative. That technology gave me great information and I truly feel that I have so many people in the world connected to me as a family, which makes me happy.
At the Parking lot of the Jikoen Hongwanji Mission in Kalihi, Honolulu there is the huge tombstone engraved with the following words “ ” read as “Shi-kai-kyodai” and translated to “Four great oceans are all connected like a brother.” Yes, our lives are somehow all connected with each other even if a person is from another place. When you trace back several generations, you may find connections with each other. So, it makes you wonder how people who harass others due to a difference in ethnicity or nationality must feel when they find out they have cousins that are different from them. Buddha teaches us equality, which is why people should not take advantage of others - and this goes for both sides. For example, the wealthy and poor: people who practice offering to others plant the seed of wisdom and compassion through example. Likewise, people who receive offerings must have a true mind of gratitude and be able to learn to have a sincere heart for the offerings of others. There are many other areas where we face difficulties, and we may not be able to solve these problems right away. However, through the great wisdom and compassion of Buddha’s guidance, we can realize our own selfishness and, with the light and wisdom of the Buddha, reflect upon ourselves to solve these difficulties in our lives, little by little.
One of the Chinese Buddhist teachers I met shared with me the following:“Everybody is somebody we can learn from. When we see the virtues of others, we should adopt them as our own. When we see the wrongs of others, we should reflect upon ourselves for the same faults.” We receive our precious life through the conditions and experiences from many great areas, and by meeting and learning through the very important and precious interactions with the many people around us. The homages said,
Hard it is to be born into human life: now we are living in it. Difficult it is to hear the teachings of the blessed One; now we hear them.
I would say “Difficult it is to meet and have great and precious experiences at Wailuku Hongwanji Temple; now we are having it.” We are receiving very precious and rare life-experiences from our Dharma families.
I am not able to find any adequate words except “Okagesama-de.” May we all rejoice in the precious lives of others and share the seeds of Buddha’s wisdom and compassion with our families through the wonderful guidance of the Nembutsu. This will be the great practice and dedication for us all during the observation of Ohigan.
Namu Amida Butsu