Missionary, Kouhei Harada was born in 1972 in central Japan (Fukui prefecture) as a first son to a father who was a bank manager and a mother who is a housewife. When he was 16 years old, his girlfriend got involved in a car accident and passed away. He was so depressed by this incident that he tried to escape from the bitter reality by concentrating on playing the electric guitar all by himself at home. He had no choice but to wonder for what purpose human beings live.
In 1989 he entered Toyama university and one of his seniors introduced him to the teachings of Master Shinran. And later he attended Takamori Sensei’s lecture. He was so moved by the teaching of Buddhism that he decided to become a missionary. “I don’t want to regret my life”, he thought and one day he had a talk about it with his parents.
“I would like to be a missionary of Pure Land Buddhism. Please give me permission”
“No, never. You are my only son. If you insist too much, you will not be my son any more.”
His father was completely against his idea. Kohei suffered a lot thinking that he was giving his parents a lot of hardships. In addition to his father, his mother, too, opposed him. He thought he hit the wall. If both his parents are against his idea, he has no choice but give up the idea of becoming a missionary. But it was at such a point of despair in his life when Takamori Sensei appeared in his dream. Takamori Sensei’s eyes seemed full of mercy and smiled at him. Soon Takamori Sensei left him, tuning his back on him as if he was saying, “Come follow me,” and then he woke up.
He made up his mind. He decided to go to the Buddhist Academy without his parents’ permission. It was January 1992. After that he kept seeing his parents in his dreams. One day he made a telephone call to his mother. She said, “How are you doing? Take good care of yourself and do your best.”
Hearing her voice, he couldn’t stop shedding tears. His mother started reading Takamori Sensei’s books and attended his lectures. She said “I was amazed how deep the Buddhist teaching is, but still the lecture was easy for me to understand.”
He thought this must have been the effect of Buddha’s guidance. But one day, to his surprise, he got a letter from his grandmother saying, “You should listen to the true teacher of Buddhism; otherwise, you will misunderstand Buddhism and it will harm you a lot.” Apparently she was opposed to Takamori Sensei’s sermons although she had never listened to one.
He told her what he had been taught by Takamori Sensei. Listening to his story, his grandmother changed her mind drastically and said, “You are right, you are right! He must be the true teacher of Buddhism.” His grandmother attended Takamori Sensei’s lecture which was held near her home town and was so impressed that she too asked to become a Shinran follower.
Later he realized that it was his father who gave a ride to his grandmother to the lecture place. His father once watched the animated movie of Master Shinran. He thought his father was also guided strongly by an invisible power. When he visited them for the New Year’s holiday and had a meal together, his father said to him, “I like you so much that I will not oppose to whatever you are devoting yourself to.” I was very happy that I went to the bathroom and cried. “This must be the real power of Amida Buddha,” he thought. It seemed to him that he had been trapped in an abyss of despair but now, not only he himself but also his mother, grandmother and his father were guided by the Supreme Buddha. He couldn’t help but make effort to pay his debt of gratitude to Amida Buddha.
Above is the summary of his speech in a contest 16 years ago. He concluded it by this message:
“Takamori Sensei is always lamenting that there are many people who want to listen to the Buddhist teaching but there are not enough missionaries to share it. I hope the younger generation would stand up and learn more about the teachings of Buddhism and share it with people all over the world. This is the big project of saving all human beings on this earth. Where there is a will, there is a way."
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #12 | 2011, Why I Decided to Dedicate My Life to Buddhism
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