The Question of “Why” ( A Message from the Translator )


I have many roles: teacher, translator, chorus member, wife, mother... All bring me joy, but no joy is greater than that of motherhood.

One vivid memory is of my oldest son, Matthew, who from around the age of four never stopped asking questions: “Why this?” “Why that?” “Why, Mama?”

One “why” led to another, and they got progressively harder to answer. “Eat your vegetables.” “Why?” “Because they will make you strong.” “Why?” “Because your body needs them.” “Why?” “Because that’s how our bodies are made.””Why?” Sooner or later, a “why” came that I had no answer for.

It is human nature to as why—and the biggest why of all, one that everyone comes to in the end is, “Why do we live?” Everyone searches for this answer, and needs to know what it is. It is a great privilege (and joy) for me to contribute to translating Naze ikiru 2, which asks and answers this crucial question through the words of Master Shinran. I hope that more people, like my son, will continue to wrestle with “Why?” and never stop searching until they find the answer.

Juliet Winters Carpenter

Professor, Dept. of English Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts Imadegawa, Kyoto City

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #60, The Question of “Why”

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