Not paying attention:

Our lives are truly interdependent, and through assisting others, we can make our lives wonderful and meaningful. The other day, the emergency light in my car suddenly illuminated, indicating a problem. I’m not skilled in mechanics, but I felt compelled to seek help. Unfortunately, it was already 4:30 p.m., and the dealer was closed. Despite my limited knowledge, I decided to pull over and open the front hood to inspect the car. Strangely, I didn’t know why, but I felt the need to open the hood.

A few minutes later, a kind soul stopped behind me and inquired, “What’s happened?” I responded, “I’m not sure, but something seems to be wrong with my car; the emergency light suddenly came on.” He exited his vehicle, examined my car, and informed me, “Your car has a computer system, and it needs a reset.” He located the switch under the steering wheel, reset the computer system, and advised me, “It should be fine now, but be sure to visit the dealer for an oil change; it’s overdue.” According to this kind stranger, my car’s oil change was over 1,000 miles overdue. Typically, I followed the dealer’s recommendations for inspections, check-ups, and oil changes promptly. However, this time, I realized I had forgotten to change the oil, and several months had passed.

The following day, I visited the dealer and scheduled an oil change. Upon picking up my car in the afternoon, the mechanic cautioned me, “You came close to damaging your engine, so remember to change the oil according to our recommended schedule.” I asked the dealer to place a prominent sticker with the next recommended mileage on the front windshield as a reminder.


We all acknowledge the interconnectedness of our lives and receive assistance from countless individuals, often without realizing it. This collective kindness enriches our lives, much like the generous stranger who reset my car’s computer system. One familiar Japanese word, “Okagesama,” holds significance, particularly among older individuals in the American Japanese community, even here in Hawaii. However, many young families today may not be familiar with this term or may not use it. What does “Okagesama” mean? “O” is an honorific prefix, “Kage” signifies shadow, and “sama” conveys respect or honor towards others. Therefore, “Okagesama” expresses genuine gratitude and appreciation for the support we receive, both directly and indirectly.

The perception of rain varies from person to person. Farmers, for instance, welcome rain to nourish their crops, while those planning outdoor activities may find it unwelcome. However, rain and heat play crucial roles in our lives, allowing us to witness blooming flowers and new life. “Gassho to Amida” applies to us as well: “Trees, grasses, and flowers all grow in great compassion. This Light shines throughout the world.” We, too, have flourished due to the kindness, wisdom, and compassion of many individuals. In temple services, we receive warm smiles, kind words, and a profound sense of peace and serenity. Even when we are inattentive or overlook Amida’s wisdom and compassion, he continues to bestow it upon our hearts.

Shinran Shonin expressed his deep gratitude in his Hymns of the Dharma-Ages as follows:

“When we entrust ourselves to inconceivable Buddha wisdom, We dwell in the stage of the truly settled. Those who are born transformed [in the Pure Land] are of superior wisdom, And they realize the supreme enlightenment.”

(The Collected Works of Shinran, Hymns of Dharma-Ages, p. 410)

Unknowingly, we receive Amida’s boundless wisdom and compassion, and unknowingly, we recite the Holy name of Amida Buddha, “Namo Amida Butsu,” with profound and sincere gratitude, as “Okagesamade.”

As the Community Temple, we are here to serve both temple members and non-members alike. We are today, a 21st century organization