It seems that since our granddaughter arrived, time flies so much quicker; however, the fact is time always moves at the same speed. So, if you feel that time is moving by more quickly or time is passing by more slowly, it depends on what we are doing or how we are spending our time in our daily lives.
As a minister, I visit the Maui Memorial Medical Center at the invitation of our temple members and friends, and I have had wonderful opportunities to talk to and learn from the patients. The following is one of the experiences I would like to share with our members.
A family requested that I visit their mother in the hospital. During my visit, I had the chance to have the following conversation with this particular patient: "Reverend, I think my time here is coming to an end. I feel that I am satisfied about my wonderful life with my beautiful family and friends. However, Sensei, now I feel that I want to live more years and do a little more with my great grandchild before I die. He is my only great grandchild and so kawaii (cute, adorable). He is now eight years old, and knows and understands many things. You know Sensei, I did many things for my grandchildren but for the great grandchild, I didn’t do much. I want to do the same for him as I did for my grandchildren. I often think that if I am able to extend my life for another six more months I would like to offer much more to my family and great grandchild. You may laugh or feel that I am greedy. But,…..” As I looked at her, tears rolled down her face. I felt that she knew she was going to die. At that moment, I didn’t have any answers for her, but all I could do was just hold her hand. Two weeks later, this lady passed away. Funeral services were held privately but I shared this story with the family members, and especially focused on her great grandchild. He was only eight, but he fully understood his great grandmother’s thoughts of him and cried at the funeral.
The night after the funeral, I asked myself the same question. If I had only a few more months to live and have to leave my wife, children, and granddaughter behind, what would I want? I know I would be devastated, but I would try to accept life until the end. The word I could find was "Shikataganai,” (it cannot be help). But my final answer for this is, "I will try to do my best until the time comes."
If we follow the faith in Shinran Shonin’s guidance, it is "To transfer one’s merit to the Buddhahood in order to attain it or to transfer one’s merit to the attainment of birth in Amida’s land." We then will have another life, the life of eternity in the land of Amida and be able to guide not only our family members, but also the entire human race as a Buddha.
Yes, once our lives expire, we are not able to be human beings, but instead as a spiritual Buddha we are able to return to our loved ones and guide them with our great wisdom and compassion through the memories and services which are associated with their temple programs.
Shinran Shonin passed away over 750 years ago but we are meeting and receiving his profound guidance of the Nembutsu through the Dharma, our temple services and activities. I often express my sincere gratitude to our family members for the countless opportunities to meet family members through the memorial services of our loved ones.
At the same time we can meet the guidance of the Nembutsu, Amida Buddha’s compassion and wisdom through our loved one’s memories and be able to realize that their spiritual merits are reaching our hearts and guiding us to the path of truth. If we have another life, yes, we will have another eternal life at the Pure Land of Amida and will become a Buddha and send our infinite wisdom and compassion to all sentient beings with the great mind of Love and Care through the guidance of the Nembutsu. When we sincerely recite "Namo Amida Butsu" we will feel a deep sense of gratitude and Buddha’s great Wisdom and Compassion in our heart that they are leading us to the path of the truth