Namu Amida Butsu
TO ALL OUR WAILUKU HONGWANJI MEMBERS and friends, how are you doing? Do you realize that this is already the month of September? It’s the ninth month of the year. Time flies by so quickly.
Wailuku Hongwanji Mission will be observing its annual Autumn Ohigan Service on September 13. Ohigan is the most wonderful time for all of us to reflect upon ourselves through the teachings of the Buddha and rededicate ourselves in expressing our gratitude and thanksgiving for the wondrous virtues extended to us unconditionally and equally.
For the month of September, I would like to share with you the story of the Turtle and the Rabbit. Many of you already know the story of the Turtle and the Rabbit. However, I felt that this new version would be interesting and really is associated with Jodo Shinshu teachings. The story goes as follows:
One day the Rabbit and the Turtle were having a debate. The Rabbit said, "Mr. Turtle, I am tired of hearing that old story about the race between you and me and how you won the race because I slept before the finish line. Many of my friends laughed at me; I am so ashamed. It was my biggest mistake that I made in my life, so I would like to have one more race with you and see who will be the true winner!"
The Turtle said; "I know how it will turn out, Mr. Rabbit. You are fast; you are just like a ‘running machine.’ I know you can run faster than me, so it will be no contest, and it will be wasting our time."
Then, the Rabbit said; "Well, I think we should have the race and see if it is true. Mr. Turtle, are you afraid to know the truth?"
The Turtle said; "No, I am not afraid to race you even though I know you’ll win. Well, okay, let’s do it. However, what are the rules?" Then the Rabbit said; "Rules? Make whatever rules you want or like. Let's just race to McDonald's, which is five miles down the riverside. Loser treats the winner with a lunch. Do you agree to this condition?" The Turtle said; "Okay, I agree that the loser will treat the winner." Both were at the starting line and Rabbit said, "Are you ready? Ready, set, go!"
As the Rabbit ran, he said, "Boy, this is going to be an easy race to win. I will get the most expensive item at McDonald’s." So, the Rabbit ran fast and reached the bridge. But, during the night, the bridge was totally damaged from the heavy rain and could not be crossed. The Rabbit lost hope and said, "What can I do? I cannot cross the river. I cannot swim across the river; the water is too treacherous."
While he was standing at the riverbank, the Turtle arrived and said, "What are you doing Mr. Rabbit?" The Rabbit said, "The bridge is damaged and it cannot be crossed. I cannot get to the other side of the river." Then the Turtle said, "Oh, I see." He looked around and found a board and said to the Rabbit, “I have a good idea, why don't you get on by back and I can take you to the other side of the riverbank." The Rabbit was reluctant to ride on the back of the Turtle but he had no choice. So, the Rabbit said, "If you insist, I will get on, but remember I owe you nothing!" The Turtle said, "Of course, don't worry about that."
The Turtle, instead of just taking the Rabbit to the other side of the riverbank, swam a few miles down and stopped right next to McDonald’s restaurant and said, "Here we are." It was just in front of McDonald’s.
The Rabbit jumped off the back of the Turtle and was ready to run to the restaurant. However, when he saw the Turtle struggling to get out of the river, the Rabbit went back and pulled the Turtle out of the river and they both went to the restaurant together.
The Turtle said, "Wow, it was a great race, we reached at the same time! Both of us are winners!" Then, the Rabbit said, "No, I lost, if you didn't help me to ride on your back, I would be at the riverbank, so you are the winner." Then the Turtle said, "No way, if you didn't pull me out from the river, I would still struggling at the riverbank." So, both of them supported each other and reached the goal line at the same time. Then, they purchased whatever they wanted and both paid for their own lunches and ate them with Namo Amida Butsu and Itadakimasu. The Rabbit and the Turtle found the great relationship and friendship through the wisdom and compassion of the great guidance of Nembutsu with respect for each other.
For us, the temple is the place where we are able to learn these many precious guidance and joys, and it will be spiritually enriching in our daily lives. I believed that this is Amida Buddha's infinite wisdom and compassion which we call Amida's Other Power. "Sailing is always easier than running" and this is truly teaching us "self-power vs other power."
Regardless, even if we see Amida Buddha or not, his spiritual light and compassion are always reaching into our hearts and guiding us to the path of the truth.
Amida Buddha's endless compassion, wisdom and great encouragement are always working for us to reach the Amida's Pure Land. The month of September is the month for us to reflect upon our daily lives and for us to realize Amida Buddha's great guidance showing us to walk the path of truth.