Namu Amida Butsu

Dear Wailuku Hongwanji members and Dharma School students. Since Covid-19, we have all missed our excellent Dharma School students. Even if our temple services are in-person now, we still have to be cautious about Covid. All of you are always welcome to our temple services at any time! I sincerely hope all of you are well and enjoying our Holy Buddha’s warm and spiritual infinite light and life.

This is the month of September! The time is flying so fast. September is designated as the month for dedication. There are so many different ways for us to dedicate ourselves to our society and Ohana. In the teaching of the Buddha, he shared with us the great passage:

 

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared…..”

These are powerful and positive words he shared with all of us, and it is true! Even if we share wisdom and compassion, it will never be shortened.

This month I would like to share the story of the Turtle and the Rabbit. Many of you already know the story of the Turtle and the Rabbit; however, I feel this new version is exciting and associated with Buddhist teaching.

One day the Rabbit and 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 you won the race. Let’s have a race again and see who is the fastest one and wins this time.”

The Turtle replied, “I know how it will turn out. Mr. Rabbit, you are fast and a running machine. I know you can run much faster than I can, so it will be no contest and only a waste of time.”

Then Rabbit said, “Well, I think we should have a race and see of that is true. Mr. Turtle, are you afraid to know the outcome?”

Then the Turtle said, “No, I am not afraid to race you, even if I know you will win. Well, okay, we’ll do it again. Do we have any rules?”

Then the Rabbit said, “Rules? Oh, you can do whatever you have to do. Let’s race to McDonald’s, which is five miles down the riverside. The loser treats the winner to lunch. Do you agree with this condition?”

Then Turtle said, “It’s not fair, but cannot help. Ok, I have agreed that loser treats the winner.” Two of them stand on the starting line, then Rabbit says, “Are you ready? Get set, go!”

As he ran, Rabbit said, “Boy, this will be very easy. I will get the most expensive item at McDonald’s. So, Rabbit runs so hard and fast.

The rabbit didn’t know the location of McDonald’s, so the day before the race, Rabbit went to see the course because he had never been there before. Then, he discovered a river they had to cross and a bridge. So, he understood the route and was ready for the next day’s race.

Rabbit ran so fast and hard, he got tired and thought, “I bet I am already more than halfway there. It is easy but so boring.” This time, he told himself, “If I take a rest here, the same result may occur.” So, Rabbit continued to run on the road. When he reached the river, he couldn’t find the bridge. Wow, Rabbit thought, “what should I do?” He could not swim, so there was no way for him to cross the river.

The turtle was trying to move fast, but because of his heavy shell on his back, he couldn’t move fast and said, “That Rabbit runs fast. I cannot run that fast carrying my heavy house on my back.”

Then, Turtle sees the river right next to the road, and he remembers Shinran Shonin’s teachings and says, “Sailing is always faster and easier than walking to reach the goal.” So, Turtle said, “Maybe I should try to go down on the river.” He found a board on the shore-side. and said “Why not? It is worth a try.”

While the Rabbit was standing on the riverbank, the Turtle floated smoothly down the river. Then the Turtle discovered the rabbit and told him, “Hi Rabbit, why don’t you get on my back? We can sail together.”

First, Rabbit denied the turtle’s offering, but the turtle insisted Rabbit get on his back. Rabbit climbed on the turtle’s shell, and the two sailed smoothly down the river and reached the shore next to the McDonald’s restaurant.

When they reached the riverbank, the turtle said, “Go ahead, go to McDonald’s!” However, Rabbit waited until the turtle was out of the water and told him, “Let’s walk to the restaurant together!”

Then, the Turtle said, “Why? You can go! You will win the race.” Rabbit said, “Never mind the race; we go together.” In the end, both of them reached the Mc- Donald’s at the same time.

Then Rabbit said, “I lost this race! So, I will treat you. Without you, I would still be stuck at the riverbank!”

Turtle replied, “No, Mr. Rabbit, you waited for me at the riverbank. You could have gone, but you walked with me to Mc- Donald’s! So, you are a true winner!”

Then Rabbit shouted, “Forget it, I lost! I pay!”

Turtle said, “OK, we both won, so nei- ther one of us lost, so why don’t we share the cost and treat like friends should.”

Rabbit said, “Ok, we should not ar- gue about that.”

They then got their food and enjoyed their lunch with Nembutsu and Itadakimasu.

The Rabbit and the Turtle found a great friendship through the wisdom and compassion of the excellent guidance of Nembutsu; to respect each other.

For us, the temple is the place where we can learn these many precious joys to spiritually enrich our daily lives. I believe that this is Amida Buddha’s infinite wisdom and compassion which we call Amida’s Other Power.

Regardless even if we see Amida Buddha or not, his spiritual light and com- passion are always reaching into our hearts and guiding us to the path of the truth. The “Tan ni sho” chapter 6 extensively teach- es us about our conditions: “If there are conditions which bring us together, then we must meet.” The great guidance of the Nembutsu brings all of us as one and guides us to the path of the truth.

Amida Buddha’s endless compassion, wisdom, and great encouragement are al- ways working for us to open our eyes, the eyes of our inner hearts. The month of September is the month for us to reflect upon our daily lives and for us to realize Amida Buddha’s excellent guidance is showing us to walk the path of the truth.

Parents and grandparents of the Dharma school students, please share this article with your precious children and grandchildren so they understand the ded- ication, sharing, wisdom, and compassion of Amida Buddha.

Namu Amida Butsu