Namu Amida Butsu
HI EVERYONE! HOW ARE YOU? ARE YOU AND your family, okay? Although I am doing virtual services on our Wailuku Hongwanji Facebook and YouTube, I truly miss having our in-temple services. I hope everything goes back to normal as soon as possible so we can have our services in our beautiful temple.
The construction of the handicapped restroom is currently being built right next to the temple entrance. The contractors are busy working on it. I hope the project will be completed by the time temple services begin.
Due to the Coronavirus affecting the entire world, we have to follow the order from the government because this is for our safety. So, we had to cancel or postpone many of our services and fundraising activities.
Even when some families lost their loved ones, we could not hold bedside and funeral services. It was sad that I could not offer my sincere condolences and sympathy to these families and relatives at that time. Sadly, some families had to cancel their loved one’s funeral services. I never thought this Coronavirus situation would become so serious and affect the entire world.
We have experienced many disasters in the past, and we will experience many more in the future. However, as human beings, we have overcome these disasters with our selfless efforts and determination. I firmly believe that we will conquer this disaster with our efforts, cooperation, and experiences.. During Shinran Shonin’s time, there were several types of disasters. How did the community deal with it?" "How did they solve the problems?"
What would they do if there was a disease or pandemic in their community or countries and did not have any medication to cure the virus? I wonder how they would solve this problem. Of course, if they had any medication, they could sterilize the entire area, but I don’t think there were any such medications available. One idea was that the entire community would abandon their town and move somewhere and ignore the problem until it solved itself and so on.
If Shinran Shonin were there, people would ask him "What do we do?" or "How can we solve this problem?" What would Shinran Shonin’s advice be to the people?
Shinran Shonin’s shared the Nembutsu teachings with his people is a very simple way. Amida Buddha’s great salvation and guide was "How can we make our precious lives a meaningful one?" Do you think Shinran Shonin just said, "Let us pray." Or, "Let’s think of the best way to solve this issue?" I think he would firmly say to us instead, "What can we do to minimize the spread of the particular virus to our society?" "What is the best way for us to protect our lives from the virus?" and so on. I am sure that he will want us to think and find the best way to protect ourselves from the pandemic, not only through prayer or not doing anything.
From the month of April, the government provided many rules for us to follow. It seemed very strict and too much for some of us. However, let us carefully and deeply think about the situation we are all facing. The government is really concerned about each us and our future. It is trying its best to limit the problems.
Yes, many people lost their jobs and will be facing hardships in many ways. But, we are resilient. We are able to rebuild our wonderful society with the love, kindness, and support from all of you. Yes, we are Ohana and will be able to overcome this difficult situation. I personally express my sincere appreciation to our government that they took the action for all of us even though we are not able to do many things like before. Maybe it is a great time for all of us to reflect upon ourselves, which we took for granted and begin to appreciate what we receive from our society.
The teachings of the Buddha said, "Thousands of people may live in a community but it is not one of real fellowship until they know each other and have sympathy for one another. A true community has faith and wisdom that illuminate it. It is a place where the people know and trust one another and where there is social harmony. In fact, harmony is the life and real meaning of a true community or an organization."
Living the life of the Nembutsu is to accept things as they are and live our lives more meaningfully and preciously. Listening to the Buddha Dharma, we become aware of Amida Buddha’s great and spiritual wisdom and compassion reaching into our hearts and showing us the path of the truth. So, may we all follow the Buddha’s true guidance as our guide and work together with others and overcome this difficult situation with our Ohana.
In 1919, there was the Spanish flu which spread throughout the world. People were frightened just like the present. Someone shared this wonderful poem written by Kathleen O’Mara in the year of 1869. This poem tells us about what has to be done and what we need to do. Here is her poem:
"And people stayed at home. And read books, and listened, and they rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, learned new ways of being, and were still, and listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless and heartless ways, the earth also began to heal. And when the danger passed, and people join together again, and they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live, and healed the earth fully as they had been healed."
May we all embrace Amida Buddha’s "Infinite Light, Life, Wisdom and Compassion" and live our lives through the great guidance of the Nembutsu.
Please stay safe!