My Black Path: The Road Frequently Taken

The Taste of the Nembutsu cover image

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.


My Black Path: The Road Frequently Taken

Rev. David Fujimoto

In December, I had the opportunity to go out with our BWA Ladies to deliver lap blankets to various care home facilities in the Hilo area. While driving to our first destination, one of the ladies got confused as to where I was going. It had seemed that I took a different route from what she was used to. Another lady jokingly commented, “Oh you take the long route” and proceeded to explain a shorter quicker route.

As we got out of the car, it reminded me of Zendo’s “Parable of the White Path.” We always hear this parable about this traveler and his dilemma and fear of crossing the “White Path.” What is interesting is Shinran makes a comment that really strikes me, when I ponder my outing with the ladies:

Truly we know that, in the parable of the two rivers, the white of the white path four or five inches wide contrasts with black. White is the white act selected and adopted [in the Vow], the pure act that is the directing of virtue to us for out going forth. “Black” is the black activity of our ignorance and blind passions, the sundry good acts of those of the two vehicles and of human beings and devas.
(Collected Works of Shinran, 105-106)

It’s ironic that the path I travel is a road that is “black.” Ever since moving to the Big Island, I knew only of one way to go from “Point A” to “Point B.” I knew no other way. So I realized my “Black activity,” my ignorance and blind passion that doesn’t allow me to think “outside the box” or even to realize that there are other ways from one point to another.

While driving, my mind was set to driving on the road I was familiar with. And yet, another person knew another route that was much faster and shorter. Now, I frequently use that same path in my travels.

Life is like that isn’t it? We are always put in a situation in which we are presented with many possibilities of the outcome and in the ways we can handle the situation. We always choose to handle the situation in the way we feel most comfortable in. Sometimes we even come to the point in which we are forced to choose between alternatives that are uncomfortable to us.

The traveler in the parable was faced with this situation. If he turned back, he knew that he would face the wrath of the bands of brigands and wild beasts. If he went forward, he would plunge into the river of fire or river of water.

However, he hears the call of a voice telling him not to be afraid, and to cross the “white path.” This call is of the Buddha. This is the intent of the Buddha, and that is to save every one of us. Often there are things out there that will cause us to be uncomfortable.

In those times, we can feel the embrace of the Buddha telling us not to worry. Go forth and travel this path for we can never tell what may be on that other side. Perhaps, it may be a shorter way to get to our goals or to where we are going.