Address on the 750th Shinran Memorial

The Taste of the Nembutsu cover image

A message from Rev. Kosho Yagi 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.


Address on the 750th Shinran Memorial

Rev. Kosho Yagi

I do not know its origins, but a phrase, “an eye for an eye,” means that if someone pokes out your eye, you are entitled to retaliate by poking out one of his eyes. Acts of revenge, by retaliating with the same hurt one has suffered, simply adds more misery to the misfortune of everyone. Unfortunately, our world is full of the repetition of revenge. Acts of terror escalate because people always respond with even stronger weapons to try to, destroy an enemy completely.

It is stated in the Alagaddupama Sutta:

Human beings have attachments to everything because of their calculating minds. They are attached to money, they are attached to property, they are attached to honor, and they are attached to their life. Because they have attachment to everything — existence or non-existence, good or evil, right or wrong — they continue to be in delusion and invite more suffering.

Human beings are bound by what they are attached to and are caught by what they have grasped. People who grasp money are thus caught by money and dragged around by it. People who grasp status are thus caught by status and may even be destroyed by it.

If you are leading a horse, and the horse is startled by something and begins to run, what is the best thing to do? Though it is amateur’s idea, I think the best thing to do is to let go of the horse’s rope.

Blind passions are like a runaway horse. If we are attached to our blind passions and hold on to them, we will be torn apart. Sakyamuni Buddha teaches:

Hatred can never be overcome by returning hatred.
Hatred can only be stopped by not responding with hatred.
This is an eternal truth.

It is said that Honen Shonin, the founder of Jodo Shu sect, became a monk because of the final words of his father, who was killed by his enemies. His father’s final wish was surely in accordance with the heart of Sakyamuni’s teaching.

How many “lives” exist on this planet Earth? Not only human beings, including animals, insects, microbes and so forth. There must be many more than quadrillions or quintillions (About 1.7 millions of species kind of animals as of Mar. 2006).

Certainly there are many more “lives” than we can possibly imagine. Among this great number of lives, what are the odds of being born as a human being?

Once Sakyamuni Buddha was walking along the Ganges River and suddenly told his disciple Ananda, who accompanied him as an attendant, “Scoop some of the sand that is at your feet into your hand.” Sakyamuni Buddha told the bewildered Ananda, standing there with a handful of sand, “The odds of being born as a human being are like the sand in your hand compared to all the sand in the river at your feet.”

If one spends one’s entire life for nothing, just taking the fact that one has been born as a human being for granted, it is quite regrettable. But even being born as a human being, how many people have spent their lives without ever having had a chance to hear the teaching of the Buddha? Indeed we must listen to the teaching very carefully.

Sakyamuni Buddha once taught a young woman about to marry that there are five things she should keep in mind. The second of these was: Your husband’s teacher gives him holy teachings, so you should also revere that teacher. As a human being, you cannot live without a teacher for your mind. It is not only a young woman about to marry who needs a teacher for her mind. It is essential to have a good teacher, especially for those who practice the Buddhist Path.

Shinran Shonin, wrote a hymn expressing his joy for encountering his good teacher Honen Shonin:

Through countless kalpas and lives,
I did not know the decisive cause to depart the world of delusion;
If I had not meet my teacher Honen Shonin,
I would have spent this life in vain again.

Shinran Shonin even said, “Even if I were deceived by Honen Shonin, and reciting the nembutsu I were to fall into hell, I would have no regrets about it.”

Today, we are fortunately able to receive their teachings through our founder, Shinran Shonin’s 750th Memorial services. Let us try to understand the teachings and live our unrepeatable life through NEMBUTSU. NAMO AMIDA BUTSU