Namo Amida Butsu
Dear wonderful Wailuku Hongwanji families, I sincerely hope all of you are doing well and are rejoicing in the spiritual guidance of the Nembutsu in your daily lives.
As you may know, many members will visit Japan and participate in Shinran Shonin’s 850th birth and 800 years of Jodo Shinshu establishment service at our mother temple in Kyoto. Great numbers of Jodo Shinshu followers throughout the World will attend this significant ceremony and service on May 10. Many of the BWA ladies will attend the 17th World Buddhist Women’s Conference on May 11 and 12 at the Convention Center in Kyoto. It will be a memorable celebration for all Hongwanji members worldwide. Whoever participates in this special service will experience a once-ina-lifetime opportunity at the Hongwanji temple in Kyoto. Whoever participated in the services and ceremonies will be very impressed and have a deep feeling of gratitude toward meeting these special opportunities. How do I know people may receive this significant feeling? Because I participated in several special ceremonies and services at our mother temple in Kyoto with many of our Hongwanji members, and all of them gave us a deep and unparalleled feeling of greatness of gratitude. Sometimes people say “I got chicken skin,” or “Torihada ga tatsu” in the Japanese language.
I don’t know how the religious department will run this special service. However, when we hear the Gagaku music (Japanese Court music) at the beginning of the service or the temple bell (Kancho) start ringing, somehow we all feel a deep feeling of gratitude towards participating in this special day. At the same time we feel that “chicken skin.” This will be a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity for many of us to call “Go En,” and we will feel truly “Arigatai – so appreciative.”
As I mentioned before, fortunately, I attended several significant services at the mother temple in Kyoto and participated in the service in the inner sanctuary place with Gomonshu. Abbot Kosho Ohtani was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I felt so “Arigatai” - appreciative. For my age and physical condition, I don’t think I can serve the inner sanctuary place anymore, even if I have the opportunity because I cannot do “seiza” sitting on the hard floor.
Homages says, “Hard it is to be born into human life, now we are living in it. Difficult it is to hear the Teachings of the Blessed One; now we hear them.” This passage genuinely reminds every one of us to be aware that we are all receiving the great “Go-en,” the opportunity to listen to the Buddha Dharma through the excellent guidance of the Nembutsu and awaken Amida Buddha’s boundless wisdom and compassionate heart into our heart which shows us the path of the truth.
Even if some of you cannot go to the service in Japan this time, we, the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, will observe this special and memorable service in September 2024 in Hawaii. Hence, we all can rejoice in the joy of happiness with our Sangha.
As Jodo Shinshu followers (the Nembutsu followers), we genuinely appreciate the “Go-en” the opportunity we experience in our lives, and that opportunity is truly a gift by Amida Buddha’s great wisdom and compassion is reaching into our hearts.
Shinran Shonin expressed his gratitude and appreciation to Amida: “Everything that I have received, the opportunities, are only for Shinran to open the eyes and to see the truth.” My interpretation is as follows, “Amida’s great wisdom and compassion are for all of us to be aware of his great blessing reaching into our heart and showing us the path of the truth.”
Hard it is to be born into human life, now we are living in it. Difficult it is to hear the Teachings of the Blessed One; now we hear them.