I was born in Nagaoka city, Niigata prefecture to parents who are Shinran followers. I chanted Shoshinge, The Hymn of True Faith, and I went to listen to the lectures of Takamori Sense all over Japan. My parents always taught me that “If you plant good seeds, you will get good effects. If you plant bad seeds, you will get bad effects.”
One day in my first year in junior high, I read the book, YOU WERE BORN FOR A REASON and was shocked. I realized that I don't have the mind that I will die tomorrow. I will not think that I will die the day after tomorrow, either. On the other hand, death is my 100% assured future. I am heading toward life's waterfall into the basin of death without being aware of it. Then, what is going to happen after death? I began to worry about the afterlife. This is a great problem which I can not leave aside.
I could not help but tell the truth of Buddhism to my friends. But the only thing they said was “If I spend my time thinking about that, I would become depressed.” And, they gave me a glacial stare. Among them, my friend from Himi city, Toyama prefecture showed exceptional interest in Buddhism. She was so moved by a book on the introduction to the Buddhist teaching that she said she wanted to join the study sessions on Buddhism. But several days later she changed her attitude all of a sudden and said, “I do not want to go too far into it.”
What is going on? “Maybe I'm not good at sharing Buddhism with others?” I lost my confidence and motivation to do anything. Nevertheless, I suddenly remembered the intense desire of Hozo Bodhisattva. Amida Buddha stepped down to a bodhisattva level and became Hozo Bodhisattva; then he went through hardships to save us. The will power of Amida Buddha has been working on us ever since.
And the image of Takamori Sensei in his youth spreading Buddhism alone on the road in front of the Honganji temple came to my mind. “No matter how hard and how many times I shout to spread the teaching of Buddhism, this six characters of Namu Amida Butsu does not reach people. I am so sad and sorry for my lack of ability.”
How difficult his hardships were! I can not give up because of such a trivial matter. If I give up on my friend now, who will share this true teaching with her? At the same time, I heard that the teacher who was in charge of my class in junior high school took his life. He was in his thirties. We talked about his death and my mother encouraged us to work together to convey Buddhism in our neighborhood. Then, we became united with a single purpose.
My parents are now making effort to build a Shinran Center in Niigata. They are working hard to build the foundation to convey Amida Buddha 's Vow to all people in the prefecture. I feel grateful to have been born as a child of Shinran followers listening eagerly to Buddhism. And I will head towards the light.
Strong Ties of Ikeda Family
Five members of Ikeda's family are all Shinran followers. We interviewed Ms.Masako Ikeda:
What did your family talk about when your teacher in junior high school committed suicide? It was unbelievable because my teacher was in his thirties, committed suicide and he was the one who often told us he was against committing suicide. My sister Noriko (far right in the picture) who hesitated to share Buddhism with him regreted by saying “What if we told Buddhism to him…..” My mother cheered us up at that time saying, “We should appreciate the fact that we have become aware of the purpose of life. There is no one else who can convey Buddhism around here except us. Let's work together to spread the true teaching of Buddhism.”
You are excited about the construction of a Shinran Center in Niigata, aren’t you?
I see my father going to the site to hold a meeting every day. I also would like to help however I can with all my might.
Masako Ikeda, Niigata prefecture
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #16 | 2012, Family Unite, Brings Light to Town
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