The Spirit of the Rainbow

The Taste of the Nembutsu cover image

A message from Rev. Satoshi Tomioka 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.


The Spirit of the Rainbow

Rev. Satoshi Tomioka

It has been almost two years since I came to Hawaii. I have been blessed by many people and experiences during my ministry and my life in Hawaii. There are many differences between Japan and Hawaii and as I learn these differences, I try to use them in my work.

One thing I noticed were rainbows. Here in Hawaii, I see rainbows quite often after it rains. I have even seen a double rainbow. It is so beautiful. The rainbow is even printed on the Hawaii State license plates. A Hawaiian proverb states: “No rain, No rainbow.” There is a deep relationship between Hawaii and rainbows.

Did you know a rainbow is composed of seven colors? Students often use the acronym “ROY G. BIV” to remember what they are. R is for Red, and the rest of them are Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. 7 different colors shape a rainbow. In other words, a rainbow embraces all of its differences and yet shows its beauty as a multi-colored rainbow. It shows us the spirit of Aloha. One of my teachers shared the meaning of Aloha to me as follows.

Aloha is to learn what is not said, to see what cannot be seen, and to know the unknowable. He gives meaning to each letter as below.

A Akahai – kindness to be expressed with tenderness

L Lokahi – unity to be expressed with harmony

O Oluolu – agreeability to be expressed with pleasantness

H Haahaa – humility to be expressed with modesty

A Ahonui – patience to be expressed with thoughtfulness

A rainbow shows us not only its beauty but also teaches us the spirit of Aloha. Through seeing the rainbow and feeling its beauty, it calms our hearts and minds and brings us happiness.

The Smaller Sutra describes a part of the Pure Land:

There are lotus flowers, as large as chariot wheels, growing in the pools. Those of blue color emit blue radiance; those of yellow color emit yellow radiance; those of red color emit red radiance; and those of white color emit white radiance. They are exquisite, wonderful, fragrant and pure. Sariputra, the Land of Perfect Bliss is filled with such splendor and adornments. (“The Three Pure Land Sutras volume Ⅰ” p.5)

Although each lotus itself is beautiful on its own, radiating its own color, whether it be blue, yellow or red, in one pond, the combination of the different colors blend harmoniously just like the adornments in the Pure Land.

Like the lotus flower and the rainbow, each of us has our own uniqueness and individuality. We show our own colors through our words, deeds and thoughts. However, sometimes we may overly share our colors, which can cause trouble and disharmony. This is due to our own ego. I call this ego the “I, My, Me, Mine” mind. As human beings, we tend to love ourselves. This is our human nature. But if we insist that the “I, My, Me, Mine” mind is always right, what happens? It doesn’t create harmony, but rather it causes hardships not only to ourselves but also to others. At that moment, we should remind ourselves of the spirit of the rainbow. A rainbow consists of 7 different colors. However, the colors harmoniously combine to make a rainbow.

In a similar way, we are all different but our lives are interdependent and we should strive to peacefully coexist. Instead of showing our “I, My, Me, Mine” mind, let us try to show our kindness to others and create harmony in our daily lives like the rainbow. Let us show our beauty of kindness and love to others through our words, deeds and thoughts. Let us make One rainbow. Namo Amida Butsu