Namo Amida Butsu

A Happy New Year to all — Shin Nen Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu.

We welcome the Year 2014 with Amida Buddha's bright and wonderful blessing along with his infinite wisdom and compassionate heart. May we all receive Amida Buddha's infinite guidance and enjoy our precious lives with the great guidance of the Nembutsu.

On the first day of January, we usually eat "Ozoni soup." When I eat it in the morning on January 1st (New Year's Day), I truly feel that a New Year is beginning, and wish for everyone and their family members to have good health and a wonderful year.As I eat the Ozoni soup, I always recall my childhood experiences on New Year's Day. I was told by an old timer, "When you eat Ozoni soup, you have to eat the same number of mochi as your age." For an example, if you are 5 years old, you would eat 5 small mochis. We are told the more we ate, the more we are able to become strong and tough like the mochi throughout the year.

With that being said, most children were forced to eat the same number of mochi as their age on New Year's Day. Since the mochi we ate in the Ozoni soup was very small, it wasn't hard to eat quite a few of them. After eating Ozoni soup, we received "Otoshidama" which is "New Year's gift of money" from our parents. It was an important and joyous moment for the youngsters. I wonder if they still continue these customs in Japan or do they have it in Hawaii?.

For Nembutsu followers, the beginning of the year is perhaps the most joyous time of the year. I think we have something that is unique. When we wake up on the first day of the New Year, we are able to express our true feeling of gratitude to Amida Buddha as we welcome the New Year, and offer our respect and gratitude to our family altar. The Homages — Kikyomon, truly expresses our gratitude and appreciation. It is said, "Hrd is it to be born into human life; now we are living in it. Difficult it is to hear the Teachings of the Blessed One;…..” Even through myriads of kalpas, hard it is to hear such excellent and profound Teachings. Now we are able to hear and receive them.

We are receiving these precious gifts from our Holy Buddha, as well as gain great and spiritual wisdom from Amida Buddha. These precious gifts may not be seen like material things, but it is truly coming into our hearts and mind so we are able to gain the great Buddha's treasures (Compassion) in our lives so that we are able to live our precious lives as a meaningful one. May we rejoice in the true joy of our lives with the infinite guidance of our Amida Buddha, through the wonderful guidance of the Nembutsu throughout the year.

Joy is happiness and Happiness is making our precious lives so meaningful. Reciting the Name, Namo Amida Butsu is our great joy because we will realize that we are one with Amida Buddha. Namo Amida Butsu.