What I Experienced in Mexico and Canada

Testimonial at the Youth Convention

A Person with the Fragrance of Buddhism

What I Experienced in Mexico and Canada

Six years ago after graduating university, I started working as a ceramics maker. At present, I’m involved with industrial technology and I often go on short business trips abroad in order to start up new production centers. As I get to stay abroad not just for a few days, but for a few weeks or at times for a few months, I feel like I can see the intrinsic qualities of that country.

Last year I stayed in Mexico for five months from May. When you hear “Mexico” what comes to your mind? A cactus, a pair of maracas, tequila, cheerful Latinos and Latinas - I believe many people have such an image of Mexico. Actually, Mexicans get out of work early on Fridays and join parties where they sing until the morning comes! They were so friendly and sociable that they befriended me and gave me tequila to drink several times.

A Great Darkness Lurking Deep

However, this cheerful image of Mexico is only on the surface. There is a huge gap between the poor and the rich, and it is also a country with a high rate of poverty and crime. Most of the people working at the factories have only graduated from elementary and at most junior high school. Mexico is a country where education is highly valued even more than in Japan and so those who haven’t graduated from junior high school cannot succeed in society. The salary of most people there isn’t even as much as $300 per month, so there are many people who get involved in drug cartels in order to support their families.

However, once people get involved in crime it is very difficult for them to get out again, because if they quit the crime ring, they would be killed. I heard news like this almost every day. It looked as if they were trying to forget their anguish by singing and dancing. I couldn’t help but feel a great darkness lurking deep in their hearts.

Even though they earnestly seek for happiness and work hard with all their hearts, many Mexicans are engulfed within the tall waves of the ocean of tribulation. Even though I couldn’t speak any Spanish, I wanted to convey the meaning of life in spite of hardships to the warm Mexicans who always made me, a foreigner in their land, feel welcomed. But the language barrier was thicker than I had imagined and as they could not understand English, I failed to convey any teaching to them.

All I could do was greet them with a smile and warm eyes. There are people seeking a solution to their suffering right in front of my eyes and I can’t do anything! After I left Mexico and returned to Japan, I kept feeling bad about this. I don’t want to repeat what happened in Mexico. I want to teach true Buddhism, which transcends borders. It was then that I was blessed with a chance to stay in Canada for two months. As I was determined to convey Buddhism with fresh resolve, this was a big chance for me.

What is the Cause of Juvenile Suicide

Currently, in Canada, suicide among teenagers is a big social issue. 15 years ago in Japan too, suicide amongst high school students was making the headlines. If people in their 40s or 50s commit suicide because of the pain of illness or financial troubles, for what reason would a high school student commit suicide?

This tumultuous era existed in Japan too. In today’s Canada, just like Japan’s 15 years ago, suicide among high school students is becoming a big social issue. I once had a chance to have a conversation about this issue with a female instructor of the language school I was attending. When I asked her how she thought we can stop people from committing suicide, she expressed her opinion by saying how education and family are big factors.

I said that of course education and the family one is raised in are important, but the most important issue is not knowing why we must live even if we suffer in life. When I told her that I study Buddhism in Japan and that Buddhism teaches the answer clearly as to why one must live even if they suffer in life, she was greatly amazed and said, “I never heard that’s what Buddhism teaches.”

Among the Seven Billion on Earth

I handed her the book You Were Born For A Reason, saying, “This book explains in detail what Buddhism is in beautiful English.” She was immensely delighted. While staying in Canada, I gave the book You Were Born For A Reason to a few people. Even if people are blessed with material things, not knowing the meaning of life, many take their own lives.

Among the seven billion people on earth, those who know true Buddhism, the teaching of Master Shinran, are few and far between. Only we Shinran followers can convey true Buddhism. In order to convey Buddhism to all people in the world, I would like to learn the teachings of Master Shinran and learn foreign languages as well. Also I would like to be such a Shinran follower about whom people say, “This Japanese person is somehow different.” Takamori- sensei, please provide me with your guidance.

Mexico, A Catholic country’s agony: There are many Catholics in Mexico and Canada, countries where Mr. Yamada has lived. Especially in Mexico, 80 percent of people are Catholics, but recently many of them have questions about the Catholic teachings and so have decided to leave the church.

by Takuya Yamada

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #31 | 2013, What I Experienced in Mexico and Canada

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