Namo Amida Butsu

THE PURPOSE OF RELIGION IS FOR US TO RECEIVE the spiritual messages through rituals. However, some Buddhist sects, in their teachings, may instill feelings of fear through their rituals or messages, especially if the members do not follow the rituals or practices. In addition, these religious sects are always promoting their goods like Omamori (good luck charm), arrow with white paper, ofuda (organization issued blessing paper), and other items.

However, most people know that these objects do not help, but are hopeful that the spiritual power will save them from any unwelcomed happenings. Yes, we are all human beings, and need something to rely on, and with it we are able to live our lives with some feeling of relief. At the beginning of the year, many people purchase a handful of items with faces of satisfaction. I always wondered and am puzzled at what happens to the items previously purchased. Are these items good for only one year just like batteries, which we use in our flashlights? Do these spiritual blessings need to be renewed each year?

Many members, as well as non-members, bring these papers and other items to my office and say as follows: "Sensei, I don't know what to do with these. Can you discard them for me? I am kind of scared to do it myself." So, I always accept their requests, and discard them, privately. I understand their feelings; they don’t want any "Bachi" or punishment from their spiritual homage. However, do these spiritual savers truly give us "Bachi" or punishment instead of saving us?

We all are receiving Amida Buddha's great compassion and wisdom regardless of who we are and as long as we recite the Nembutsu without having any doubts, we all are able to be reborn into the Pure Land of Amida

About 550 years ago one of the Hongwanji groups sold Buddha's picture with the purchaser’s name on the back of the picture. Many people in the community spent large sums of money and purchased them, as it was said that the more money you spent, the more you will receive in blessings by the Buddha. So that Buddhist temple became rich by selling these items and became very powerful.

Many people had doubts about what that temple was doing, but others, especially the people who had contributed the large amount of the money and purchased those items, were too afraid to speak about the issue.

However, Rennyo Shonin completely denied this idea and explained to the community that the Buddha does not rank people. The Buddha's compassion reaches out to everyone equally with full of wisdom and a compassionate heart. With his encouraging message to the community, the system instantly disappeared. What Rennyo Shonin expressed to the people is "We all are receiving Amida Buddha's great compassion and wisdom regardless of who we are and as long as we recite the Nembutsu without having any doubts, we all are able to be reborn into the Pure Land of Amida."

It was his spiritual message to the community, to the rich and poor, to the males and females, regardless of their occupations that people were released from the fear of those items.

In our society today, we have many things around and we are able to get those items instantly or without having much difficulty. Nonetheless, we may be only seeing the tangible items, which are just seen with our eyes, as we are not able to see or realize the truth which we already have in our heart and mind.

In the Buddha's 48th Vows, especially his 18th Vow, it is said, "If, after my obtaining Buddhahood, all the beings in the ten quarters who with sincerity of heart hold faith and wish to be born in my country, repeating my name perhaps ten times, are not so born. May I not achieve the highest enlightenment excluded only are those who have committed the five deadly sins and those who have abused the true Dharma."

If this statement is true, and he is already a Buddha, that means we are surely saved by him and be able to reborn into the land of Buddha (Pure Land) and to become a Buddha. We don't have to worry about anything and just rejoice in the life of the Nembutsu. "SO NO MA MA, MA KA SE RU — just relying upon Amida and his great salvation without having any doubts." May we see the truth, and accept things as it is around us and rejoice in the wonderful life of the Nembutsu with the joy and happiness with others. Namo Amida Butsu