A message from Rev. Kojun Hashimoto 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.
Rev. Kojun Hashimoto
Today, I would like to talk about Hon-Gan, which means “Amida’s wish.” Hearing Amida Buddha’s wish is Jodo Shinshu. The Buddha we revere is Amida Buddha. But there are other Buddhas in this world, too; for example, Dainichi Buddha, Yakushiji Buddha and Sakyamuni Buddha. There are many Buddha in this world like sand on the beach. Each Buddha tries to save people. One Buddha tries to save people who are suffering from sickness. One Buddha tries to rescue people. All Buddhas wish to save us from suffering.
So, what is Amida Buddha’s wish? Amida Buddha wishes us to realize true happiness and to be born in the Pure Land where there is no suffering.
Amida Buddha made 48 wishes before he became a Buddha. We call these wishes the 48 vows. If he could not realize even one wish, he vowed he would never become a Buddha. All his wishes were for us. Of all the wishes, Shinran Shonin said the 18th wish was most important and the true teaching. A true wish is never for oneself; it is never with the thought of receiving something in return. A true wish is from the heart and for others.
We hear Amida Buddha’s wish and realize that Amida Buddha wishes for us and embraces us whatever we have happening to us.
Let me tell you this story.
An elementary school student who was going to temple services took a kanji test at school. He was a very smart student, but he mistook one kanji: ganbaru. Actually, ganbaru means to struggle, but he wrote 願生, which is not correct. But I think that the student thought he should struggle to finish even a difficult job because he realized someone is wishing him to keep going. That is why he could struggle. So, he wrote 願生 for ganbaru, meaning “living in Amida’s wish.” But his parents were so happy because this kanji told them something important about their son. 願 means “wish.” 生 means “to live.” So, their son’s kanji meant we are living in Amida Buddha’s wish. He was going to temple services to hear the teaching of Buddha, where the minister always said, “Amida Buddha is watching us and embracing us.”
As you know, our Jodo Shinshu is calling Hongwanji. Hon means true. Gwan means “wish.” Ji means “temple where people get together.” So, our Hongwanji means “getting together at a temple to hear true wish.” So, together, let’s us all hear the true wish, Amida’s wish, and live it as Buddhists.