"Some may recall that Wailuku Hongwanji’s original temple was located at the corner of Market and Wells Street. But did you know that during World War II the U.S. military constructed on the grounds next to the temple, a bomb shelter for the neighborhood residents?"

Namu Amida Butsu

It is already December 2017. Here in Hawaii, we are able to see and enjoy the many beautiful Christmas decorations at stores and residences. Many people welcome their holiday seasons with a warm feeling of gratitude.

At the last State of Hawaii Hongwanji board of directors’ meeting and at the Pacific Buddhist Academy’s dedication service, Bishop Eric Matsumoto expressed the word of "Gratitude" in his aspirations. When I was listening to his message and aspirations, I fully supported what he was saying, and felt a sincere gratitude and appreciation to our great Nembutsu pioneers for their selfless efforts and dedication. Without their sincere care, guidance, and values, we may not be able to follow their footsteps as Nembutsu followers. I would like to express my genuine gratitude and recite Amida’s name of Namo Amida Butsu.

In Jodo Shinshu, a person’s spiritual teacher is called, "Zen Ji Shiki." In English it is translated as, "A good friend or teacher who leads one to the Buddhist Way."

As I mentioned in last month’s article, "I, as a minister, am nurtured by many wonderful members and dharma friends." This is so true.

Many young ministers, as well as the “old” ministers, are assigned to a temple as a resident minister or an associate minister. They all receive sincere love, wisdom, and compassion. They become good ministers and are able to share their sincere hearts and actions.

During the year 2017, we, the Wailuku Hongwanji Mission, lost many dedicated Nembutsu followers. I know that we are not able to predict our future and the Buddha teaches us that everything in our life is impermanent. However, if something happens to someone who is close to you, it will be very hard to accept. Maybe I am selfish but we have to use the word of "Shikataga-nai—it cannot be helped" and accept that life is impermanent.

We are able to learn from these wonderful and dedicated individuals who were very close to you or me. We could say that these people are truly our dharma teachers and that we were all able to learn so many wonderful teachings under their guidance. Personally, what I have received from these wonderful Nembutsu teacher, I am not able to explain in a short phrase or words.

However, if I had to choose one word, it would be Buddha’s true mind which is "Compassion or JI HI in Japanese."

As I mentioned earlier, even though I am a minister and studied these areas, I am still learning many important things from these temple members. I firmly believe that all of these people are truly, my teacher or my “Zen-Ji-Shiki” so called in Jodo Shinshu. It is not only myself but other people who have learned from these mentors.

We meet many people in our daily lives but none of them are the same. We have different ways of thinking, different interests and so forth. But because we are all different, we are able to learn many things. Yes, we learn many important things from people who are around us. Thus, whenever we learn good deeds from others, without knowing it, we are able to share it with others who are around us.

Even with people who give us “a hard time,” we are able to learn something from that particular person. One passage says, "Everyone is somebody we can learn from. When we are able to see the virtues in others, we are able to adopt them as our own. When we see the wrongs of others, we should reflect upon ourselves for the same faults." Yes, Buddhism is a teaching that shows us how to live this precious life with happiness, meaning, fulfillment, and contentment.

December is a really busy month for all of us, but even if we are busy, we have time to reflect upon ourselves and express our sincere gratitude towards all our experiences which we had and people who are around us.

Life is wonderful because our lives are always interdependent. People who are surrounding us are always supporting each other, discussing issues, solving problems, creating new ideas and so on. That is the reason why we are able to have many feelings of happiness, joy, comfort and so on.

May we all deeply reflect upon this past 11 months and welcome the New Year with the sincere mind of gratitude and "Okage-samade1 " with the great guidance of Nembutsu, Namo Amida Butsu.

Namu Amida Butsu

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