“Your life has a purpose. You must live”

“Now, the court reads the verdict...” The defendant heard the verdict with tears. It was in summer when I was assigned to defend this client. He had been breaking into people’s houses, stealing their money, and injuring them tens of times. I immediately went to the police station where he was being held. When I opened the heavy door to the visitors’ room, I saw a man in his 40s looking up in the dim light. Across the acrylic board, there he was. He kept repeating that he did not need a lawyer.

Otherwise, his mouth was shut. From this day on, my battle began. I made a very tight schedule of the trials, appointments, and counseling, finished organizing tons of documents and then went to visit him almost everyday. But all he uttered were words of despair: “I can’t get out of prison any way, can I ?” “Let the trial be over as soon as possible.”

The Begining of a Vicious Cycle

However, I felt I was the only one who could defend him and the only one who could convey Buddhism to him. Therefore, I couldn’t give up. With this resolution, I started listening to him.

Then one day with a very serious look on his face, he began telling me how he became a criminal.

He had a wife and children. But his wife started having an affair and abandoned the house chores and raising their children. He endured against all odds and put all his earnings into their family account. One day out of the blue, his wife told him, “You know what? Our kids may not be yours.” She then abandoned their children, withdrew the family savings, and left him for another man.

He knew everything he ever had was crumbling in front of his eyes. He gave himself over to despair and this is how he turned to crime. Gradually, he committed more crimes and in more cruel ways and became uncontrollable until he got arrested. At the end of his talk, a stream of tears rolled down his cheeks. “I can never get out of the prison. What should I live for? With all the terrible things I’ve done, I’d be better die.”

I couldn’t help shouting, “Death is not what you pay for your sins.” Your life has a purpose. You must live, atone for the guilt, and go forward towards your purpose in life.”

A Great Senior of Life

In this way, I began telling him about the law of cause and effect. “A seed unsown will never grow. Everything we harvest is the result of what we have sown in the past.” You may have sown many bad seeds until today and you are now harvesting the results of them. However, if you sow the seeds of goodness from now on, you will be blessed with many good outcomes for sure.” Then I gave him a copy of the book “Something You Forgot along the Way.”

The next time I visited him, he appeared with a cheerful smile, and said to me, “I am reading that book you gave me the other day. It really gives me a positive outlook on life.”

And then came the day of his trial. He listened to the verdict while in tears. But this time, his tears were not out of sorrow but out of a pledge to get off to a fresh start.

Later on, I gave him a couple of more books: You were Born for A Reason and Unlocking Tannisho. “These are my presents to you. The purpose of your life is clearly written in these books.”

He answered with a smile: “Sensei, may I ask how old you are? You look so young, but regarding life, you appear to be a great senior to me. It must be one of the blessings of Buddhism. It is my first time to meet a teacher of life.”

While in prison, he now carries the three books by Takamori Sensei. And recently, I got a letter from him: “The books I received from you are the best books I have ever had in my entire life. Though I am in prison, I believe deeply in the law of cause and effect and do anything I can to be useful to others; I am seriously atoning my guilt.” The beneficiary of Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow is all sentient beings. Of course that includes criminals. I will go forward aiming to become a lawyer who has attained Buddha’s mind.

Yuji Ogura, Lawyer

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #05 | 2011, “Your life has a purpose. You must live”

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