A message from Rev. David Fujimoto which appears in the book, “The Taste of the Nembutsu,” published in 2016 by the HHMH State Ministers’ Association. The book is a collection of dharma messages by each of the active ministers.
To extend the reach of the dharma within these messages, we will publish one per week on our website.
“Sometimes Good to Spill Water, but Not the Beans”
Lessons Learned from Mr. Jimmy Uyeki
Rev. David Fujimoto
There is without a doubt that in the life of a minister, many members and events standout and teach many lessons. For myself, at the early onset of my career, I have had many opportunities to meet great people who have taught me many things and experienced many unforgettable moments.
In early 2014, I met a person by the name of Mr. Hajime Uyeki, or “Jimmy” to everyone. He was an Aikido instructor, county fire battalion chief, body builder, and a great singer. His Wife, Jane, called me one day to ask me if I could come and visit.
Over the course of many visits, I got to know Mr. Uyeki and shared many laughs. On one of my visits, someone convinced him to share the story of how he met his wife. With a big smile on his face, he said, “You like know how I met my wife?” “Yes, I do!” I replied. The he proceeded to tell his story.
I was going to go swimming at a place called Warm Springs. On the way there, I saw a pretty wahine* (woo hoo!) over there having a picnic with her friends. She offered me some food and I ate it all. I took her swimming, and I scared away all the chics because of my muscular body.
After that, I told her “I not like Romeo and Juliet, I not like that.” So I grabbed her hair and said “Me Tarzan, you Jane!”
A Filipino man came up to me and said, “blah blah blah, what’s going on?” I told him that I not da kine romantic kine, me Tarzan!” That’s when he said, “Yeah, that’s why they call you the “Tarzan of Warm Springs!”
And that’s a true story, and I stick to that. That story is still going on even after 65 years.
In actuality, this really didn’t happen. It was a story made up by him, but was a story that was carried on by him for many years. You have to admit, it is a pretty romantic story.
Many of us like to live in that “pretend world”, where everything goes our way, and we seem to be the “hero” in many stories. However, we unfortunately have to live in the “real world.” One that is full of greed, anger, suffering, and ignorance. We really don’t want to live in that world, for it takes us out of our comfort level, and we seems to have a terrible time in accepting our role in this “world” especially because we don’t get the things we want. Worst of all, instead of the hero, we become the antihero.
The Buddha wanted to understand what our role is in this “real world.” He wanted to find out why we live in this “real world” and why we so much want to live in the “pretend world.” For many years, he sought the answers to these questions, but didn’t seem to find them in the “conventional” manner in which was accepted in his days.
Finding the fork in the world, he made up his mind that he would not leave sitting under the Bodhi tree until he found his answer. There he sat perched under the tree in meditation for over 40 days. Finally, he found what he was looking for.
For myself, in many ways, I too want to live in that perfect “pretend world.” One that I don’t make mistakes or make a fool of myself, but unfortunately, I cannot.
I try to pack my robes in a suitcase the night before I officiate a funeral, so that I can just walk out of the house the next day. However, things didn’t exactly go the way they were supposed to.
In getting dressed at the funeral home, I noticed that I had two right side tabis. Immediately I went in to a panic as to what I was going to do. I couldn’t exactly go out with two right tabis on, nor could I go out barefoot or in slippers.
In the sudden burst of laughter surrounding my plight by the funeral director, and myself the director said, “Why don’t you just turn it inside out?” I just wanted to slap my head!
Immediately I turned one inside out, and off I went. I hope no one noticed. Well, I take that back, I talked about it during the service. As much as I wanted to hide out of embarrassment, I carefully the fine line between the “pretend world” and the “real world.”
Buddha in his enlightenment had Mr. Uyeki and I in mind as he set out through out India. Generations later, Shinran Shōnin realized that Mr. Uyeki and I WAS like him, and set out to clarify the Buddha’s teachings and taught that through the Nembutsu Teachings, the Buddha’s Teachings were made especially for us.
I truly believe that Mr. Uyeki believed that and understood that. Throughout his life, in his daily practice, he recited the Sūtras and recited the “Raisan Mon.” It wasn’t until later that he confessed that he really didn’t know what the meaning of the “Raisan Mon” was, so I told him that I would work on it.
Upon receiving it, you could see the emotion in his face of finally fully understanding what the “Raisan Mon” meant. His deep appreciation for the translation was met with a loud, “OH! SO THAT’S WHAT IT MEANS!” For him, deep inside, he knew this teaching was important, now that he had the translation, it provided justification. Sadly enough, fourteen months later, he passed on. But the memories and the lessons live on in all of us.
* Hawaiian for woman.