A Happy New Year-“Okagesama-de”-In Gratitude
Written by Rev. Shinkai Murakami
Namu Amida Butsu
Shin Nen Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu. A Happy New Year! It’s the dawn of 2022! May we all embrace a bright hope to the end of the Pandemic with Amida Buddha’s wonderful blessing, infinite wisdom and compassionate heart. May everyone in the World receive and rejoice in Amida Buddha’s blessing and enjoy all our precious lives with the Nembutsu!
As I welcome the New Year, I sincerely feel “Arigatai”, which is a true appreciation for everything I have, also known as having a mind of “Kan- sha or gratitude.” Even when the Pandemic made our lives so difficult and fearful, many people found a way to pull together and support each other in many ways. Through people’s kind words, kind actions, our government’s great efforts and support, and our Ohana’s selfless cooperation we are all able to welcome the New Year, together.
As Nembutsu followers, we also appreciate “EN or destiny/fate.” Whenever we meet or come upon “EN”, there is an opportunity to learn or participate in new things. Those experiences enable us to grow as won- derful human beings. I think of this as a guide from Amida Buddha’s great guidance. If we are able to realize the causes that led us to our destinies, a great mind of appreciation may come to us as Arigatai and Okagesama-de, because we truly appreciate the condition that we are experiencing. Jodo Shinshu followers embrace “EN” because “whatever we have in our lives is truly connected by our Holy Buddha’s great guidance and gifted to each one of us.”
For example, we can gather with our wonderful Nembutsu followers during temple services where we chant sutras, read passages, listen to ministers’ Dharma, sing our wonderful gathas and much more. These are truly precious gifts to all of us. Also, when I was at Kapaa Hongwanji in Kauai, one of the members shared with me their insightful and precious moments of EN and Arigatai, telling me “when I wake up in the morning I can see, my hand is moving, and I am able to stand from my bed. Arigatai, Namo Amida Butsu.” These short words truly express ones sincere gratitude and appreciation for something that many of us may take for granted every day.
The Jodo Shinshu guidance is truly reminding all of us that having a sincere mind of gratitude and appreciation is truly our way of life. We are able to share our joy of happiness with our children, grandchildren, and our society with the mind of Okagesama-de. We all received this precious life and can share our wonderful legacy with our Ohana through our daily lives. In the Homages, it is 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……...” Yes, we have received great treasures! May we all have a mind of gratitude in our daily lives and share our wonderful smiles and kind actions to others.
Additionally, in the teaching of the Buddha it is said, “Even if we share our Happiness with others, Happiness never decreases by being shared.” This is true for all of us. Even if we share the great guidance of the Nembutsu, the values and compassion of Amida Buddha never decreases from all of us. In fact, the truth and joy of the Nembutsu will spread to all sentient beings.
May we all rejoice in the true joy of our lives with the mind of “Okagesama-de” “In Gratitude” and live our precious life with the great compassion and guidance of our Amida Buddha, through the wonderful and dynamic teaching of the Nembutsu throughout the year.
Namu Amida Butsu