Namu Amida Butsu
WAILUKU HONGWANJI MISSION IS ALWAYS welcoming new, as well as old friends and visitors, to our Wailuku Hongwanji Temple. The other day, I received a telephone call from a high school student. He said, "We are students from St. Anthony High School. Our school is a Catholic school but we have to learn about other religions and since Wailuku Hongwanji is a Buddhist temple, we would like to learn about the Buddhist teachings, history of Buddha, and about the Wailuku Hongwanji Temple. Also, Rev. Murakami, you know our pastor, Father
Bunta, so we would like to visit. May we visit your temple?" I accepted their request to visit and set a date for them to visit. When they came to the temple, all the students were kind of curious. I welcomed the students and shook their hands. When they entered, one of the students started by saying the following, "What’s that smell? It’s not too bad." Another said, "This church is kind of big and it is so quiet." I welcomed them in and explained to them about the history of Buddhism, our Wailuku Hongwanji Mission and our Altar.
During my explanation they seemed very interested as they listened about the history of the Buddhism and our Wailuku Hongwanji Mission. After my explanation we had a question and answer session.
Wow, they asked me so many questions. Both the students and I really had a great time. One of the questions was "Why is the altar area gold, and why is the Buddha standing?" Have you ever thought about this? I think at the temple services I have explained this several times. "The gold never fades, and does not change color, so the color of the Gold represents the Pure Amida Buddha’s guidance and Land of the Buddha, It is an infinite and shining light
that is always reaching into our heart and showing us the path of truth. The statue of the Buddha standing means he is ready to come to our place to save us, and take us to the Land of the Buddha."
Another question was "What is the meaning of putting your hands together — which we call, Gassho?" There are many ways of understanding the meaning of Gassho, but one of the beliefs in India, is showing others that you are respecting them. I don’t know when the form of the Gassho started but history says that people started this form about 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. In India they started using this form about 3,000 to 3,500 years ago as one of the daily forms of greeting, expressing gratitude, respecting others, and so forth. Buddhism accepted this beautiful form as a great gesture of respect, gratitude, and sincere expression of the human heart around 500 BC. One of the Saint Anthony High School students said to me and said, "Even if Catholicism is a different religion, we do have similar types of forms when we see a CROSS or Our Homages."
So, I asked them the following question, "Why do you put your hands together and bow to the CROSS or your Homages?" The students replied, "This form is our sincere respect, prayer, and thankfulness to Jesus and God." So, I told them as follows: "Yes, that is a great answer, all of you respect Jesus and God so you kneel down and pay your respects towards the CROSS or Homages with your hands together. We Buddhists also respect our Homages called `Amida Buddha — Infinite Light and Infinite Life’ and express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for his great and spiritual guidance. So the form of Gassho which is two palms together is our way of expressing our sincere gratitude and appreciation that we are receiving His infinite wisdom and compassion." While I was explaining to them, they took some notes and told me that "We will make a good report to our teacher regarding our World Religions Class, Thank you Reverend Murakami."
Through sharing our Wailuku Hongwanji temple and some of our rituals, I was able to learn other religious people’s sincere hearts and enthusiasm to learn other religions and at the same time I firmly felt the warm feeling of Amida Buddha’s infinite wisdom and compassion giving me this wonderful opportunity to experience. I firmly feel the following passage is very important in our lives.
"Everybody is somebody we can learn from. When we see the virtues of others, we should adopt them as our own. When we see the wrongs of others, we should reflect upon ourselves for the same faults. Buddhism is a teaching that shows us how to live a happy, fulfilling and content life." (A Path To True Happiness)