My hometown Ehime prefecture is a region richly endowed with nature. My father is a hardworking tangerine farmer and my mother is a teacher of tea ceremony and flower arrangement. When I was a child, I often had to face very nihilistic feelings at the bottom of my heart. I did not feel happy even if I achieved or obtained something. I was worried if I was the only one who was suffering from this mind.
I started taking Kendo (Japanese art of fencing) at junior high school. I engrossed myself in the practices to sharpen my fencing skills and to become a strong player. However, my nihilistic mind was always there. I used to look up to the sky at night while walking home from school after the practice. “Compared with those innumerable stars and the vast universe, what a tiny existence I am”, I thought. What kind of difference is my everyday endeavor going to make? Isn't it a waste of time after all? My life looked just like a small bubble that appeared on the surface of a river and disappears in no time. What is the point of it? My mind went sober.
When I was in third grade I was expected to play a leading role in the Kendo club. On top of that our team was acclaimed as the potential winner in a tournament. Everything went well until the semifinal, when we were defeated by our rival team hands down. Disappointedly I brought the curtain down on my junior high school life. I had a slight thought of revenging the defeat in high school. But on the other hand I could no longer hide an indescribable hollowness that occupied my mind.
In high school, I lost all my motivation for Kendo and that was the beginning of an insipid and dull life in sharp contrast with junior high school life. I had nothing to devote myself to. All I did was studying and preparing for the entrance exam of the university. At third grade at last, the season for sports festival had come. “This is it!”, I thought. I wanted to enjoy the last days of my high school. During the whole summer vacation I worked all day at school to make the advertising display or practiced dancing until late at night. Finally on the day of the festival, as the program went on, I felt a lot of unexpected anxieties. Why? It should be fun. All that was left for me was a sense of futility instead of a sense of achievement.
Then I made serious effort to study for the entrance exam of the university, trying to wipe out this sense of emptiness. I memorized English words on the train and studied all night long before an important test. I just wanted to enter a prestigious university so that I could lead a full life. In that way I was filling up the emptiness in my heart. As a result of my hard work, I entered the electronic engineering department of Osaka university in 1988. I thought this should be a big happiness and of course my family members and many relatives were all happy except I felt burned out.
I completed all the university entrance procedures. What came next was preparing to move. I felt I was aimless. I started thinking this was not right and that I had to do something with this. Then I came across the teachings of Master Shinran. I learned that human being can not be satisfied from the bottom of their heart even if they make a lot of profit or make a fortune, establish reputation or position. And that is because of their dark mind.
To resolve this dark mind and enter the path of no hindrance is exactly the purpose of life. I was totally convinced by the strong words of Master Shinran. “This might be the truth; no, this must be the truth,” I thought.
One month later I joined Takamori sensei's lecture in Kyoto for the first time. He taught me that the cause of suffering for all humanity is the dark mind. Our purpose of life is to eliminate this dark mind and attain absolute happiness. In addition, it doesn't take time to eliminate the dark mind. I was so glad to know the real purpose of my life that I had no choice but to keep on listening to the teaching of Buddhism. The sacred mission of a Shinran follower is to share the teachings of Master Shinran with all the people on this earth. I would like to follow this path with all my might.
(This is a translation of his speech delivered in 2001)
Nobuaki Kondo, Missionary in L.A.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #13, Persisting Sense of Emptiness Eradicated by Buddhism
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