On our first date, my boyfriend told me out of the blue, “I’m studying Buddhist teachings, so I cannot meet with you on Saturdays and Sundays.” When I saw him in my office, I fell in love with him at first sight. I pursued him relentlessly, and finally I got him to go out with me! At the observation deck in Yokohama Landmark Tower, we saw the beautiful evening sun about to set in the horizon.
I waited in anticipation to hear what kind of words of love he would give me. However, he gave me these words: “I’m studying Buddhist teachings, so I cannot meet with you on holidays.” That’s fishy. He can’t meet with me on holidays? He must already be married and have his own family! Now fully suspicious, I belligerently pressed him hard, saying, “Why don’t you take me to that study session!”
Then he gave me a joyful look, which I had not seen from him until then, saying, “Actually, I would like you to come and join it one time! We will have it next week, so let’s go together!” He arranged it right away. So I went to the study session. He took me to a public hall in Sendagaya quarter. What awaited me there was… a Buddhist studies session beyond doubt. “What he said was true…”
During that day’s study session, we learned that everything that we keep struggling to attain in this life will disappear sooner or later and we will not be able to bring even a single one of them with us when we die. Surprisingly, I was able to agree with all that I learned there. However, even though I’d think what was taught was certainly true when I was in the study sessions, I didn’t consider it to be something that was absolutely necessary for me. I thought I would much rather enjoy going shopping for nice clothes and make-up on holidays than learn about Buddhism, so I didn’t attend study sessions very often.
However, the Great East Japan Earthquake greatly changed my view of life. On the day of the great earthquake, my office started shaking more intensely than I’d ever experienced. I hid under a desk. Things on the desk tumbled down and the Earthquake Warning alarm resounded in the room along with creaking noises. I faced my own death looming towards me for the first time. I realized, “I must die one day…” Though I ought to have known it, having my own mortality thrust before my eyes was so fearsome that I trembled.
On that day, I walked home, and it took me three hours. After I came home, aftershocks occurred one after another. I was too scared to sleep. Then I saw a one-piece dress in my closet, swinging with the tremors of the earthquake. When I saw it, I suddenly realized this: I haven’t worn that one-piece dress yet, and I bought it to wear in the spring. However, if a big earthquake happened now and I died, I would have had no chance to wear that dress.
Until that point, I had been thinking about nothing but wearing nice clothes, doing my make up perfectly and being well thought of. However, all of these things will vanish when I die. Not one thing will mean anything anymore. I thought, “Well, I think I have heard something like this in the study session: ‘If you continue listening to Buddhism, you will attain absolute happiness, which will never collapse even in the face of death.’ So what is it that I should really be seeking? The answer is not nice clothes or make-up, but Buddhism.” Having made up my mind in this way, I decided to become a Shinran Follower.
When they see me in study sessions, some elderly people ask me, “Why do you listen to Buddhism even though you are still young?”
However, death can come to a person at any age. Old people do not always die first, but many people die even though they are still young. I may die tomorrow, so I will continue to listen to Buddhism until I attain absolute happiness. And just as my boyfriend, who is now my husband, shared Buddhist truth with me with all his might, I will share these teachings that are so precious for everyone with as many people as possible.
Yuiko Nogami, Tokyo
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #42, Love at First Sight... Led me to Buddhism
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