Namu Amida Butsu
In April, all Buddhists gather and celebrate Shakyamuni Buddha’s birth. Most Buddhist temples make a unique “Hanami-do” which is a little pavilion decorated with beautiful flowers. In the little pavilion is a statue of baby Buddha standing in a bowl of sweet tea. This unique celebration is for all, to rejoice in happiness while celebrating Shakyamuni Buddha’s Birthday with a true mind of gratitude.
According to history, the Buddha was born in the Spring about 2,600 years ago in Lumbini Garden, which is located in the northern part of India. From April to May, the Lumbini garden hosts many visitors from different Counties who come to celebrate Buddha’s birth. The city made beautiful flower parks, museums, restaurants, hotels, etc., and permit all the visitors to stay longer to allow people to rejoice in joy and happiness with other Buddhists. I think all Wailuku Hongwanji members should visit there and rejoice in the happiness with the other Buddhists as well!
Until then, we decorate a little pavilion with beautiful flowers to represent the Lumbini Garden where Shakyamuni Buddha was born. In the pavilion, we place a statue of baby Buddha, and we pour sweet tea over him. According to the legend, when Shakyamuni Buddha was born, sweet rain fell from the sky to bathe the body of the baby Buddha. At the same time, beautiful flowers bloomed everywhere, thousands of flower petals fell from the sky, and soft music could be heard. It seemed that all of Mother Nature celebrated Buddha’s birth!
Legend has it, that as Prince Siddhartha’s birth neared, Queen Maya began her journey home to give birth at her original home. While on her journey, she stopped to rest at a beautiful flower garden called Lumbini. While she rested in the park, she saw beautiful flowers on the Magnolia tree. The legend then says that Queen Maya went to the tree and grasped the flowers, then Buddha was born. As soon as the baby was born he stood up and took seven steps, pointed his right hand to the sky and left hand to the earth, and said: “Above and below the heavens, I alone am the World-Honored One.” I am sure someone in the Buddhist society took some artistic liberty to the story of the Buddha’s birth, but the purpose is clearly to remind each of us that he is our spiritual teacher and Honored One.
Of course, Shakyamuni Buddha is the person who became an Enlightened One and guided the path of the truth for countless people in the World. His teachings gave us spiritual encouragement and courage through his messages. However, when I think about the Buddha’s story, I believe that there are several interpretations to consider.
“Each one of us, your life and my life are very pre- cious ones, and no one can replace our life, so we all are the truly Honored One.”
When you think about our society, all of us are working not only for one’s benefit but also for the benefit of our community. So, each one of us is truly a special and honored one. As a disciple of the Buddha, we can share Buddha’s true heart and guidance with everyone through our daily lives. Yes, we share our joy, happiness, and support for others through the Buddha Dharma with our thoughtfulness and sincere heart. Why? Because each one of us inherited Buddha’s wonderful Nature! We inherited Buddha’s Pure heart which manifests itself through a peaceful mind, serenity, sympa- thy, joy, and happiness in our lives.
Let me share a story that il- lustrates the concept of a peaceful mind...
As you may know, Buddha traveled from village to village to share his Dharma with the people. In one of the villages, people expected Bud- dha to arrive late at night. So, every- one tried to get candles to welcome him with whole light. All the village people purchased the candles and kept their positions on the side of the road. Some rich people bought giant candles and held their spots at its main entrance. However, a poor lady wanted to offer candlelight, but she didn’t have any money to purTEACHINGS FROM THE REVEREND Celebrating Shakyamuni Buddha’s Birthday Namo Amida Butsu Reverend Shinkai Murakami APRIL 2022 / / VOLUME 59 / / ISSUE 04 FRIEND OF THE DHARMA Namo Amida Butsu - With Gratitude and Kindness Beyond Words 5 chase a candle. She went to many candle shops and begged them for a small candle, but all of them denied her. At the last Candle shop where she went, she said to the shop owner “I will shave my black hair, so may I purchase a candle with my black hair?” She sold her hair and used the money to purchase the smallest candle. She was so happy to hold the small candle as her treasure. Then night came, and everyone started to light a candle. (Wow, the village looked just like Las Vegas! So bright with thousands of candles.) How- ever, just before Buddha’s group reached the town, a strong wind hit the village, and all the candle lights were blown out except the small- est one, which the poor lady held. When Buddha’s group entered the town, the light became brighter and covered the entire village. Buddha stopped in front of the lady, kneeled on his knees, and said, “Thank you very much. I received your sincere heart, and it will always show me the path of the truth.”
In this story, Buddha taught us the importance of “Quality and Sincere heart.” When we are growing up, our ancestors shared with us the honest mind and sincere heart, and we all inherited these precious values, which come from their thoughtfulness, also called “Magokoro.” For us to learn Buddha’s guidance, all we must do is “listen to the teachings of the Buddha Dharma without having any doubts and rely upon Buddha’s wisdom and compassionate heart in our dai- ly lives. Buddha’s teachings awak- en us to the path of the truth in our daily lives and allow us to see the reality of our life.”
On this Hanamatsuri, may we all rejoice in the spiritual guidance provided by the Buddha and pass it on to future generations with our sincere heart and mind. This unique gathering reminds each and every one of us how wonderful together- ness should be. Buddha’s teaching is as follows:
True community has faith and wisdom that illuminate it. It is a place where the people know and trust one another and social harmo- ny. Harmony is the life and natural meaning of a true community or an organiza- tion. Please remember that whatever we share with the others, such as a kind heart, deliberate actions, express- ing sympathy with tears, and warm feelings of joy, are all precious gifts that we learned from our ancestors. This is genuinely Buddha’s excellent guidance. For this reason we celebrate the Buddha’s birth with a sincere mind of gratitude. -In the Teaching of Buddha
The Nembutsu path is Buddha’s excellent guidance that shows us the way of truth and teaches us to rejoice in happiness with others. Our Issei, the first generation came to Hawaii about 160 years ago and cultivated our land. Then our Ni- sei and Sansei, the second and third generations, built this wonderful temple for us to receive the spir- itual guidance. Now it is for us to share and rejoice in the happiness with others including our children, grandchildren, and community.
Shinran Shonin shared with us about one of his great masters, Tao Cho of China’s passage from the Land of Happiness. It is said,
“People who are born be- fore us guided people who come next, people who are born after followed the great guidance that people who were born before and fol- lowed their great path of the truth.”
Please remember, Dharma friends, we inherit the profound guidance of the Nembutsu and the spiritual joy and happiness from our dedicated Nembutsu followers. Buddhism is a joy and happiness that all of us can discover in our daily lives. So, let us listen to the Buddha Dharma as our spiritual guide, follow the actual path of truth, and share our great joy and happiness with others. Hanamatsuri honestly reminds each of us that we all embrace the Buddha’s infinite wisdom and compassion.