Namo Amida Butsu
Dear excellent Wailuku Hongwanji Sangha,
Wow, it is already the month of December!! Time seems to pass so quickly. Perhaps this is the month we should reflect upon the past 11 months. In some areas, we all know that our lives are genuinely interdependent, and someone is always assisting us in making our lives excellent and joyful. So, having a mind of gratitude and appreciation is one way for us to express our gratitude toward our society, which is essential for ourselves.
Throughout our very interesting lives, we have experienced different feelings and emotions such as joy, madness, sadness, and interest. I think it is because we live in a society and share our lives with others. Of course, no one wants to have bitter and sad experiences, but we all live with different personalities and feelings, so it is hard to predict one’s future. However, if we accept all experiences, including bitterness, sadness, joy, and enjoyment, as they are, I believe life will be so exciting and significant.
In the teachings of the Buddha, it is said, “Life is constantly changing.” It is true. Think about everything In the teachings of the Buddha, it is said, “Life is constantly changing.” It is true. Think about everything around us - health, the economy, society, etc. Everything is changing.
Mrs. Margaret Honda shared with me a bunch of green onions, and I kept the roots and planted them in the little garden that Mr. Mike Nishimoto made for me. With tender care and cleaning around the green onions, they grew so well, and I took the first harvest. It was so tasty and fresh. After the harvest, they grew again, but this time was much smaller. I feel so appreciated and enjoyed fresh green onions with miso soup, noodles, etc. Having some plants in the small garden makes me feel peaceful and excellent. Indeed, it is truly “Arigatai, Arigatai, Okagesamade.”
The late Rev. Tetsuro Sadakane of Japan reminded me that the things around us are truly precious gifts. He said as follows, “Everything in our lives is interrelated, and we received their blessing for us to live. So, our lives are truly interdependent, Okagesamade.”
Indeed, “Expressing our sincere gratitude and appreciation in the past 11 months would be truly important even though we may have a bitter or sad experience.” Why? Because we received many great things from others. One of the songs, titled “Arigatai,” with lyrics by Mrs. Mitsuyo Saito and translated into English by Mrs. Cecilia Lindo, reminds me to express our gratitude as follows: “For the rain that brings us life, for the sun that keeps us warm, for the plants and animals that nourish us all, Arigatai! Listen to Amida’s voice calling out to us with compassion. Treat every living thing with kindness like a mother loves her precious child.”
In the Shinshu Anthem, Amida’s great compassion is expressed as follows, “Amida speaks to me in teachings profound. What happiness you bring to me beyond all compare.” I think Amida Buddha is the one always sending us great wisdom and compassion regardless of who we are and where we live.
May we all reflect upon ourselves and live our lives with gratitude during the month of December. When we are able to realize these essential things, without knowing, we put our hands together and recite the Nembutsu, “Namo Amida Butsu,” which flows out from our mouths with the mind of gratitude to Amida Thasagatha.
In the month of December, may we all have a mind of Okagesama and express our genuine gratitude and appreciation to our fellow sangha and welcome the year 2024 with the true mind of Okagesama, gratitude.