A message from Rev. Shingo Furusawa 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.
Amida Buddha Always Works in Our Daily Lives
Rev. Shingo Furusawa
I take refuge in the Tathāgatha of Immeasurable Life!
I entrust myself to the Buddha of Inconceivable Light!
As a minister, I am often asked, “How are Amida Buddha’s teachings related to our daily lives?” To answer the question, I wrote this message.
At the beginning of this message, I quoted the phrase of the Shoshinge written by Shinran Shonin, who is the founder of our tradition, Jodo Shinshu. In the passage, he said that Amida Buddha is Life and Light. “Tathāgata” means Buddha, and “The Tathāgata of Immeasurable Life” is Amida Buddha, who has infinite Life.
Buddhism teaches us that all lives are interdependent. In other words, we all live in one immeasurable Life. In addition, Shinran Shonin defined Amida Buddha as Inconceivable Light, that always illuminates all of us.
If we are illuminated by Amida’s Light, what will happen? We can realize who we are. If we are embraced by the Buddha’s Life, what will happen? We can realize that we are supported by many others. If we can realize who we are and that our lives are supported by other lives, what will happen? We can feel happiness, gratitude to others, know the meaning of our lives, and we can be transformed.
You may wonder how Amida’s Life embraces us, or how the Buddha’s Light illuminates us. We can always realize the Life and Light in our daily lives.
As an example, I would like to introduce my experience when I threw away dying flowers. This is a story when I worked at Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin. At the temple, many services are conducted, and at the services, many flowers are offered. Many of them are offered on weekends because services are usually officiated on the weekends. During the summer season, it is hot and humid, so by Wednesday or Thursday of the following week, many of the flowers begin to whither.
One Wednesday evening, I was assigned to conduct a service at the main temple. When I went there, I found that many flowers were drying up. I had to throw them away. To be honest, I do not like the job, and thought, “It is troublesome!” I especially felt that it was troublesome to throw away the flowers in the bouquets.
The flowers in the bouquets are arranged in florist foam. The florist foam is like a sponge to fix the flowers into the bouquets. I had to remove the flowers from the florist foam. In addition, the florist foam contains water. I must squeeze the water out of it. If I throw the florist foam away in the trash can without squeezing the water, the trash bag will become very heavy. Squeezing it, I said, “Oh, it is very troublesome!”
Before the service, I had to rush to throw away the flowers, and I spilled the water and the florist foam from the bouquet. Florist foam fell and broke into pieces, so I had to pick up a lot of broken pieces, and I had to wipe up the floor. It was mess. I said, “It became more troublesome!”
However, after a moment, I realized two things. First of all, I realized who I am. Secondly, I realized my relation to many others.
Through this experience, I was able to realize my true nature. I am full of judgements about everything and my mind always discriminates. I have some jobs that I like and other jobs that I do not like. Throwing away flowers is one of the jobs that I do not like. When doing jobs that I do not like, I often say, “This is too much trouble!” This shows me that I always discriminate between the things, saying “I like this,” or “I do not like that.” Amida’s Light showed me that my mind is full of discrimination.
At the same time, I know that I am supported by many people. I must throw away many flowers. It means that many people visited this temple and observed the services. If they do not request the services, I will not be able to survive. That is, my livelihood is supported by the people. In other words, I am embraced by Amida’s Immeasurable Life. Even though I always discriminate, Amida Buddha accepts me without any discrimination.
After realizing these two things, my happiness and gratitude also increased, because I could appreciate the many people who requested the services and donated the flowers.
Before the experience, I always felt that it was troublesome to throw away the dying flowers. However, I could find the meaning of the job because it told me about Amida Buddha’s compassion which always works in me.
In this way, we can find Amida Buddha’s working in our daily lives. In our lives, we have many experiences. Through experiences, we know that Amida’s Life and Light always reaches us, just as I experienced the Buddha’s working in my life. I hope that you find them in your life, too. Gassho.