Buddhism Taught Me the Real Gratitude to Parents

My parents are Shinran followers. My mother is a Buddhist lecturer and my father is a painter. He paints pictures for Shinran Centers while working as a Supportive Staff. Because my parents seek Buddhism single-mindedly, since an early age, I would do chanting every morning and evening without fail and serve rice for Amida Buddha every morning as my daily routine. In addition to that, I would go to listen to Buddhism before I could remember.

During the senior year at high school, I studied very hard for the entrance exam for university, forgoing the things I wanted to do, and I was admitted to Kanazawa University, which was my top choice.

“Yippee! I passed!” At that time, I felt the greatest joy I’d ever felt in my life up until then. In April, I was filled with great hope. “Finally I’ll begin the university life I had dreamed of so much!” However, when I found myself alone in a land unknown to me, I suddenly felt a sheer emptiness that was like a gaping hole in my heart. “What is this emptiness? I studied so, so hard to get here, but even the joy I felt from succeeding changed into this emptiness…” Even if I put more energy into what I seek than ever before, the satisfaction I get from the results lasts only for a while. I couldn’t bear the shock I got from realizing this. I grew depressed, thinking, “Do I have to just try my hardest to live on in order to attain temporary satisfaction from now on?”

Then, one day, when I was listening to Takamori- sensei’s lecture, the words of Master Shinran touched me deep in my heart. “How genuine, the true words of Amida that embrace us and never forsake us, the truth that is absolute and peerless!”

Master Shinran taught me the existence of everlasting absolute happiness that never collapses. I felt as if a ray of light came into my heart. “Ah, I see! True happiness, absolute happiness, is taught only in Buddhism!”

Until that point I had listened to Buddhism time and time again, but it was at that moment when I finally came to see the Buddhist teachings as an issue that pertained to me. After that, the more I listened to the lectures, the more I realized how wonderful Buddhist truth is. I felt like as if Takamori- sensei saw through me all too clearly.

Time passed, and last winter, in the 2,000-Tatami- Mat hall, Takamori-sensei told us about our image: we are on a boat that is 100% guaranteed to fall into the basin of death. At that time, Takamori-sensei was in very poor physical condition. However, he gave us a lecture at the risk of his life. I felt as if he was telling me, “I implore you, resolve the crucial matter of the afterlife and be brought aboard the ship of great compassion!”

“Ah, I’m so sorry! Takamori-sensei is clarifying the truth for us, no, for all people! Even so, am I listening to Buddhism really intently, putting my all into it?” I decided: “I was born human, which is extremely difficult to do; I came to listen to Buddhism, which is extremely difficult to do; and I met a true master, who is extremely difficult to meet. In this lifetime, this time around, I will use my life for the truth until I finally achieve this great purpose!”

Father, Mother, thank you so much for giving birth to me and raising me in a home blessed with a bond with Buddhism. I was born into the human world, which is the only place where I can achieve the purpose of many lifetimes, and I was able to listen to Buddhism, which is so hard to encounter. My parents guided me to a true master, who is so difficult to meet, so I cannot help but feel gratitude towards them.

Also, I ended up seeking Buddhism thanks to my Buddhist friends, together with whom I have moved forward through fun times and difficult times, encouraging each other on our journey. I want to share this true teaching with as many people as possible! In order to repay the debt of gratitude I owe, I will devote my life to sharing the teachings of Master Shinran, which is the one and only path on which all people can be saved.

Akie Yanagisawa

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #40 | 2014, Buddhism Taught Me the Real Gratitude to Parents

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