Realizing Amida’s Infinite Light
Written by Rev. Shinkai Murakami
Namu Amida Butsu
Hi, Wailuku Hongwanji Ohana and friends. I hope all of you and your family members are well! Our temple in-person services have been reinstated! Unfortunately, the new covid variants and new viruses keep coming one after another, so we all must protect ourselves while in public. Please be cautious and take care of yourselves while we work through these challenges and begin to come back together as a community.
Usually in the month of October, we are very busy preparing for the Maui County fair. Regrettably, we will not be able to participate in this special event, again. Nevertheless, we must think of others, because if we hold the Maui County fair, there is a great chance to spread the infections to many people and create new variants of the viruses. I think all of us understand the cancellation of the Maui County fair is in everyone’s best interest and for the health and safety of all.
Likewise, when we hold our temple services, we continue to social distance and care for the health and safety of our Temple Members. The Wailuku Hongwanji religious committee members and I are trying to hold services every Sunday morning as we steadily begin to gather again. Currently, about 25 to 35 members attend, regularly. Alas, we hardly see our Dharma School students, so we all have a very empty feeling in our hearts. We all sincerely hope they return to our temple services and help MC for the services, reading aspirations, hit the Kansho, and greet members. Their participation is akin to Amida Buddha planting the seeds of wisdom and compassion. All our Dharma school students should be aware that they are also sharing these great seeds of wisdom and compassion with our temple attendees. Ha, ha, ha, maybe this is one of my three evil passions called “Yoku – greedy mind.” I may have to appreciate what we have, regardless of the number of people who are attending the temple services.
In the teaching of the Buddha, we all learned evil passions, so-called “Bon-no” in Japanese. Whatever we see, whatever we taste, whatever we feel, our great desires rise in our hearts for us to satisfy them. The greedy mind will arise if we are not able to get our desires. Then we start grumbling at others and, finally, the fire of our angry mind arises in our hearts. Maybe this is human nature, and the reason why our societies set specific laws and regulations.
As you may know, the Wailuku Hongwanji Mission has a Japanese Language School, and I am the principal of the school. My job is to create new programs for the students, supervise the staff, and communicate with the students’ parents. Almost daily I have been sending emails to the parents since we have many new students, and the students are starting other activities besides the Japanese Language School. Through these communications, one parent and I discovered that both of us built trust and support for each other because we were able to communicate and understand each other. This experience made operating the Japanese School much easier for me, and now parents understand that the Japanese School is not a babysitting place, but an education center where children can learn valuable life skills. Now, I receive more than a few dozen of emails from the parents every day, and have built close relations, trust, and support between us, even if we have never met.
I think learning our Jodo Shinshu teaching is similar. For example, if you are only seeking the doctrine of Jodo Shinshu teaching, you may have to read “The Collected Works of Shinran” many times, or attend the Institute of Buddhist Studies, or take a Jodo Shinshu correspondence course for a couple years. Yet, it will still be difficult to understand the faith, if you are only looking for immediate answers in the ideology of the texts. Shinran Shonin, once said:
As for me, Shinran, there is nothing left but to receive and believe the teaching of the Venerable Master (Master Honen) that we are saved by Amida merely through the utterance of the Nembutsu. If you find something unfathomable in me and suppose that I know a way to Birth other than the Nembutsu, and that I am well-vases in the Buddhist doctrines, it is a grave mistake on your part. If so, there are many distinguished scholars in the Southern Capital and on the Northern Mountain, whom you had better call upon and ask to your satisfaction about the essential of Birth.
Jodo Shinshu guidance truly comes from our daily life. Therefore, maybe through listening to the Buddha Dharma or participating in temple activities with other Nembutsu followers, you may discover how we can keep our three poisons to a minimum in our hearts. You may also discover the true joy of happiness, peace, and serenity through our member’s smiles and kind words. The key for all of us would be sharing our sincere hearts with others.
The most essential thing in our daily life is communicating with others. Missing communication becomes a bitter and unhappy feeling and can lose the trust of others. Lack of communication will create a mind of anger, disagreement, grumbling, and many more negative results. Namo Amida Butsu, is our spiritual Buddha’s great name and brings the infinite light that always comes into our hearts. It is the voice of Amida Buddha and shows us the path of the truth. So when we recite the Nembutsu, “Namo Amida Butsu,” we can hear it. Yes, the voice itself is coming from you and me, our voice, but it was coming from Amida’s truth and great wisdom, so even if we physically cannot see Amida Buddha, he is always with us and communicating with us.
Amida Buddha’s guidance is not like electromagnetic waves, which, can be stopped by the weather or other conditions. Instead, his guidance is always reaching into our hearts. So, listening to the Buddha Dharma is the way for us to be aware of and see the truth itself.
Those who, hearing Amida Buddha’s Name, Rejoice in it with reverence and praise, Receive its treasurer of virtues; The great benefit acquired with utterance is supreme.
(Hymns of the Pure Land 32, The Collected Works of Shinran, p. 332)
May we all attend our temple services and rejoice in the Buddha’s infinite wisdom and compassion in our wonderful temple with our great Nembutsu followers.
Namu Amida Butsu