"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

Wow, it is already the month of December. During this month, we have so many things to do such as, purchasing Christmas gifts, having our year-end house cleaning, thinking about Christmas dinner, making Mochi, paying all of our bills, shopping for Shogatsu-food and so forth. So December is super busy for most people.

According to one insurance agent, he reported that during the month of December there are more people involved in car accidents. He speculated that more people are involved in accidents during the month of December because more people are driving during the month than any other month; therefore, there are more chances of getting into an accident.

A Japanese word for December is "Shi-wasu." "Shi" means "monk" and "wasu" means "run." So the meaning of "Shi-wasu" is people seeing monks running all over town.

December will be a busy month for ministers in Japan because many people want to complete their family’s memorial services and blessings so they can welcome the New Year with a fresh mind. In Hawaii, I don’t get many calls from families to hold memorial services in December, but after the 10th of the month, I usually receive invitations from the families and businesses for me to do an invocation for their year-end party.

During the month of December, it is time for me to do additional exercises otherwise I will gain a lot of weight. I usually go to my doctor in December for my annual check-up and my doctor always reminds me very kindly; "Sensei, eat less meat and rice; eat more vegetables and get enough exercise." I truly appreciate my doctor’s kind reminder especially during this period because I have the opportunity to enjoy generous meals.

When you are doing or are involved in several activities that need to be done within a short period of the time, you may feel pressured and you don’t want anyone to bother you. Even though it’s only for a minute, you may have the "Leave me alone!" feeling because you want to complete the activity as soon as possible.

I have had similar experiences and felt that "I have to complete them as soon as possible." So, during that time, even if a small thing occurs or if someone asked me a question, I would get angry and frustrated with everything around me. Even if I complete the assignment, I found so many errors, and I had to do it over.

When I was in Kyoto, I asked my Sensei, who is always calm and accurate, "Why are we always frustrated when we face busy situations?" He calmly explained, "A person feels frustrated because they have to complete an assignment by a deadline. This person may have put off doing his assignment for some reasons and now have to complete his assignment within a shorter period of the time. Sometimes, we have other things to do, which causes more delay.

We feel the stress and may not be able to concentrate on the assignment that needs be done. We get angry and frustrated towards small things. We feel like we are losing our own mind.” He continued, “What we need to do is just let go of the unnecessary minds (called "iran-mono" in Japanese) and see the reality of our lives. The only way to save this is to take one step at a time."

What I learned from my Sensei in Kyoto was "He left an impact on my mind for me to see the things as it is and organize things to be done."

At our temple meditation practice, what we do is "sit quietly for about 30 minutes to calm and relax our mind." During this quiet time, you will begin to hear many sounds and will realize the wonderful gifts of Mother Nature. Your mind is calm and you let go of all unnecessary things.

After a short period of meditation, somehow, we will feel comfortable and may be able to manage many things without feeling busy. Yes, you begin to organize things that need to be done, and you will be able to handle the various tasks much easier than before and be able to complete tasks in a much simpler, more accurate, and faster way. Why? Because we are seeing things as it is. Maybe during meditation practice, we are receiving Amida Buddha’s supreme treasures, which is His Infinite Wisdom and Compassion in our hearts and minds so we can walk the path of life of the Nembutsu in our precious life.

The month of December is a busy month for most people, but instead of having a busy mind, let’s calm down first and organize things to be done by ourselves. You may be able to find a way to solve things and may not feel "busy, busy, busy" in your mind through Amida’s great Compassion.

May we all welcome our New Year’s Eve and New Year Day services on December 31 at 11:15 p.m. and welcome the year of 2019 with a great mind of gratitude.

Namo Amida Butsu

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