Namu Amida Butsu
The World Buddhist Women’s Convention is held every four years at a different overseas location. There are many Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Women’s organizations who attend these conferences. Many topics are discussed by representatives at these conferences. Participants at the convention are able to learn the true meaning of Dana throughout these presentations.
About 11 years ago, the Hawaii district hosted this World Buddhist Women’s Convention at the Hawaii Convention Center, located in Waikiki. Many delegates and members attended from Wailuku Hongwanji. We wanted to stay at the nearest hotel to the Convention Center so all of us stayed at Ala Moana Hotel.
It was only a few minutes from the Convention Center and very convenient for all of us. After the first day of convention, as I was walking back to the hotel with our BWA ladies, I noticed that one of the guests from Japan had a familiar face. I hadn’t seen that person for over 25 years, so I was reluctant to speak to him. However, I decided to speak to him and asked, "Excuse me, are you Mr. Nakamura?" Wow, he just ignored me and didn’t say anything. Again, I asked him, "Excuse me, are you Mr. Nakamura?" There were some BWA ladies from Japan and they looked at me confused. Then, this gentleman said, "No, I am not Nakamura, my name is Yoshiyama. I think you have the wrong person." But when I saw him, I was confident that this person was Mr. Nakamura, who used to work together with me at our Mother Temple’s facility about 25 years ago. I responded, "Nakamura-san, this is Shinkai Murakami, we used to work together at our mother temple as part time workers." Then he looked at me very carefully and said, "Are you Murakami-san? Are you sure, you are Murakami-san?" I said, "Yes, I am." Then both of us expressed our reunion by hugging each other and shook hands in front of many BWA ladies. Many of the BWA ladies were kind of surprised at what we were doing on the street. Then, we both discovered that we were staying at the same hotel, so we walked together back to the hotel. He told me that their group had already planned to go to a Sunset Cruise dinner and was leaving the hotel at 5:30 p.m. I met him at 5:00 p.m. in the lobby and talked story with him and his wife. I asked him the following question, "Nakamura-san, how come you were ignoring me when I called you?" He responded, "I read in one of the tourist guidebooks before I came to Hawaii that to avoid having any problems overseas, the most important thing is to not answer to any strangers who are calling you." So, he just followed what the book recommended and didn’t respond to me at all. He didn’t recognize me when I called him "Nakamura-san" because he changed his last name to Yoshiyama and goes by "Yoshi". He took his wife’s last name of Yoshiyama because he took over his wife’s temple as their resident minister. So no one called him "Nakamura" for the past 20 plus years. However, it was a really nice reunion for both of us and we truly appreciated it as Nembutsu followers.
Since we are associated with Jodo Shinshu, all Nembutsu followers are connected with each other and are able to meet again at different places through events and be able to rejoice in the happiness with each other.
In our lives, at one point or another, we all have real and precious experiences. In Buddhism, this is said to be "cause and effect." However, we must have a condition or opportunity to meet in these situations. In this type of situation, we in Jodo Shinshu call it "EN" in Japanese and I firmly believed that Nembutsu guidance brings all of us as one and helps make our precious lives so meaningful.
The homages 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; now we hear them." I would say "Difficult it is to meet and have great, precious experiences at Wailuku Hongwanji Temple; now we are experiencing it." We are receiving very precious and rare life’s experiences with our wonderful Nembutsu followers. I am not able to find any adequate words except for "Okagesamade."
May we all rejoice in the precious and memorable experiences with all our members with a sincere mind of gratitude.