Middle-aged Beautician: Will There be Some Fun Waiting for Me after Aging?

The other day, I was having a haircut at the usual hair salon when the middle-aged female beautician asked me a question. While chitchatting she learned that I am a Buddhist missionary. She said, “Do you think there’ll be some fun waiting for me after aging?”

I don’t think it is only she who has such a question. By aging we lose our motor control skills, we have less and less vigor and become more prone to illness. In that stage of life, we find that things we enjoyed in our youth were a mere dream.

My answer to her was as following: “What matters most is our mind. Just as a very ill person cannot savor delicious foods, so, a person with a dark mind cannot savor happiness. However if your mind is bright and rich, you will always be fulfilled and can enjoy splendorous happiness even if you are sick during old age.”

Then she asked, “Where can I listen to such a teaching?” I told her the place of our Shinran center in Los Angeles. She said she had seen the place.

If we remain in the boat which is heading for the waterfall basin, we are unable to attain heartfelt satisfaction and peace of mind no matter how hard we polish ourselves. But once we get on board the great ship that Amida Buddha created for us, our mind becomes filled with the nourishing treasure of the universe and we will always be able to savor the bright and pleasant happiness. Master Shinran is the living witness.

Let’s read a passage from You Were Born For A Reason.

Shinran uses the analogy of ocean and ship in praise of Amida’s Vow:

Now that I have boarded the ship of Amida’s great compassion, now that I am afloat on the vast ocean of brightness, the breezes of supreme joy blow softly and the waves of all woe are transformed. (“Chapter on Practice” in Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment)

“Lifted aboard the ship of Amida’s great pity, I look on the sea of suffering that is my life and see a vast ocean of dazzling brightness. How wonderful it is to be alive, like voyaging over the sea with a fair wind in the sails!” This is Shinran’s log of a radiantly happy journey by sea.

“Now that I have boarded the ship of Amida’s great compassion” is a glad declaration that he has fulfilled the purpose of life in accordance with Amida’s Vow. Clearly, the purpose of life is by no means vague. “Now that I am afloat on the vast ocean of brightness” expresses his joy in having his dark life changed to one of bright rejoicing. Only one who has wept at the darkness can laugh at encountering light; only one who has been buried in the depths of the sea can know the joy of floating on the surface of the water.

Why endure the sufferings of this life? Why go on living? This crucial thing eludes our understanding. Yet if we live only for the sake of living, what differentiates us from animals headed for the slaughterhouse? If we live only to await death, we are in fact buried beneath the waves.

What was the nature of the life experienced by Shinran once he had been borne to the surface of the “vast ocean of brightness” and freed from the agony of uncertainty over the meaning of life, rejoicing that he was born? His answer is brief and brimming with confidence: “The breezes of supreme joy blow softly and the waves of all woe are transformed.” This is a paean to Amida for his gifts of radiant joy and vigor to overcome any difficulty in life.

Elsewhere, Shinran described the world of “soft breezes of supreme joy” thus:

If anyone in this evil, corrupt world has faith in the Vow of Amida, unnamable, inexplicable, inconceivable blessing fills his being. (Hymns on the Masters)

In other words, “I, Shinran, am ridden with evil, yet with my dark mind now eradicated, joy beyond description swells continually within me.”

(You Were Born For A Reason, Part Two, Chapter 8 )

Kohei Harada, Missionary

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #26 | 2013, Middle-aged Beautician: Will There be Some Fun Waiting for Me afer Aging?

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