Namu Amida Butsu
This year, Wailuku Hongwanji Mission’s annual Obon services will be held on August 6th and 7th. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we are unable to hold our Bon Dance after the services, again. Although we may feel that Hatsu-bon and Obon services are sad experiences, please remember that this is the greatest time for us to express our sincere mind of gratitude and appreciation toward our loved ones who have passed away before us. Through these special times our loved ones are guiding us to meet the Buddha’s great guidance; this is the time for all of us to reflect on ourselves through their memories. Additionally, through the teachings of the Buddha, we may also be able to realize that we are all living with the Buddha’s boundless wisdom and compassion in our lives.
During Hatsu-bon and Obon services, the minister is chanting the sutras and many of you are offering incense and paying respect to our homage, Amida Buddha. This is one way to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Buddha. At our Wailuku Hongwanji Mission’s Obon services, we chant one of three main sutras in Jodo Shinshu, the Amida Sutra. The Amida Sutra is describing the Pure Land of Amida where we are all able to be reborn and become a Buddha. Buddha Shakyamuni explained to one of his great disciples, Shariputra, about the Pure Land as follows:
“Shariputra, if you travel westward from here from here, through hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddha-lands, there is a land called Ultimate Bliss. In this land, at this moment, a Buddha named Amitabha teaches the Dharma… All living beings in that land endure no sufferings but enjoy every bliss. Therefore, it is called Ultimate Bliss. Moreover, Shariputra, this Land of Ultimate Bliss is on all sides surrounded by seven tiers of railings, seven layers of netting, and seven rows of trees, all formed from the four treasures and for this reason named Ultimate Bliss. Moreover, Shariputra, in the Land of Ultimate Bliss there are pools made of the seven jewels, filled with the eight waters of merit and virtue. The bottom of each pool is pure, spread over with golden sand. On the four sides are stairs of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and crystal; above are raised pavilions adorned with gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, mother-of-pearl, red pearls, and carnelian. In the pools are lotuses as large as carriage wheels: green-colored by green light; yellow-colored by yellow light; red-colored by red light; white-colored by white light; subtly, wonderfully fragrant and pure”. Jodo Shinshu Seiten
Much more is explained about the Pure Land and it is all true. I sincerely feel that I would like visit there and take lots of pictures to share with all of you.
Although I am not able to visit there at the present time, I think we are all seeing’ Amida’s Pure Land as described in the Amida Sutra whenever we come to our temple and see our Altar. The Temple Altar is showing us the Pure Land of Amida, giving us a spiritual feeling of peace and serenity and guiding us on the path of the truth. So, whenever we attend the temple services and feel a peaceful feeling, it is because we are embraced by Amida and, therefore, feel like we are already in the Pure Land of Amida. While we are at the temple, we relax and feel a sense of peace, which means that we are in the Pure Land of Amida and receiving Amida’s infinite guidance in our heart.
I firmly believe that by attending our Hatsu-bon and Obon services we discover the great spiritual assessment. Hatsu-bon and Obon are ideal times for us to listen to the Buddha Dharma, which help us to realize Amida Buddha’s great wisdom and compassion. At this time, we learn more about Amida Buddha’s infinite salvation and his land of bliss, called the Pure Land. Then, we know we are able to be reborn, to become a Buddha, and to receive eternal life, joy, and happiness.
For us to go to the Amida Buddha’s Pure Land, we don’t need to plan or have a passport. Why? We are all embraced by Amida Buddha’s infinite light and life, and he will accept us as we are. All we need to do is recite Amida’s holy Name, Namo Amida Butsu, and live our precious life with the true mind of gratitude. By attending our Hatsu-bon and Obon services all of us may be sincerely realizing Shinran Shonin’s great teaching and his spiritual assessments.
Amida Buddha is not far from anyone. His land of Purity is described as being far away to the west, but it is also, within the minds of those who earnestly wish to be within it. Some people imagine that the figure of Amida Buddha shining in golden splendor, divides into eight-four thousand figures or feature, with each figure emitting eight-four thousands rays of light, and each ray of light enlightening the world, never leaving a single person who recites the name of Namo Amida Butsu in darkness. Thus, Amida Buddha helps people take advantage of the salvation He offers.
To guide us in the light of the Buddha, the following are Shinran Shonin’s great passages from Hymns of the Pure Land Masters:
“The ocean of birth-and-death, of painful existence, has no bound, only by the ship of Amida’s universal Vow can we, who have long been drowning, unfailingly be brought across it.” “Of those who encounter the power of the Primal Vow, not one passes by in vain, they are filled with the treasure ocean of virtues; the defiled waters of their blind passions not separated from it.”