In the afternoon of the first day of Gotan-e, the event for celebrating Master Shinran’s Birth, two Shinran followers made touching speeches. Let us introduce one of them.
I was born to tangerine farmers on a small island on Seto Inland Sea in 1927. All of the islanders were devout Buddhists. Everybody attended the Buddhist lectures that were held at temples, and doing chanting at home was considered a matter of course. My mother was the most earnest Buddhist in my family. When I decided to attend Gonju National University of Education, she disapproved, saying, “Girls don’t need education. Those who are aware of their afterlife are sages even if they are illiterate Buddhist nuns. Our afterlife is a crucial matter.”
I became a school teacher in 1945. However, during the 41 years in which I was working, I was caught between life and death because of illness. When I retired, I became a member of The Church of World Messianity, which my friend had invited me to due to the anxiety I felt over my illness. All I wanted was to regain my health and no longer need to see doctors or take medicine – such was my anxiety.
However, I could not forget what my mother had said to me. I frequently asked what was going to happen to me after death, but I never got a convincing answer. As I grew older, I started missing my deceased parents and longed for Master Shinran and the Shoshinge, which had been familiar parts of my childhood. I then joined a Buddhist women’s club. Every time I attended their lectures, I would be given a cup of tea and some snacks as well as a matchbox for a souvenir, but they taught nothing at all.
In December 2010, I subscribed to Todoroki magazine after having seen it advertised in a newspaper, and I was shocked. It taught so clearly about Shoshinge! I was so happy that I couldn’t stop crying.
When I found out that they were going to hold lectures, I could not miss out on any of them, even if they were held in a building without an elevator. I would crawl up the stairs to the lecture hall and then crawl down the stairs backwards when it was time to go home.
There I was introduced to You Were Born For A Reason and Unlocking Tannisho, and when I read them, I was surprised again. I realised, “This author is a true master of Buddhism!” My mother always taught me I had to listen to Buddhism from a true master. Back then, I didn’t know what kind of person that was, but it became clear to me as I read through the book.
A person appears with a mission when the world needs such a person. I thought, “Takamori-sensei is the incarnation of Master Shinran! Takamori-sensei is just like Master Rennyo!” and I decided to become a Shinran Follower. I was now determined that I wanted to be an earnest Buddhist. Before I was granted the correct object of reverence, I gave the things I got from The Church of World Messianity, which I had worn all the time, back to the organisation. The Church was surprised, saying that I was the very first person to have done so. At my granting ceremony, I requested the correct object of reverence for my Buddhist altar. Later, a top executive monk of Nishi-Honganji came to my house for a memorial service. When this talkative monk saw the altar, he was lost for words and went away without saying anything.
Now it’s my turn to share the truth, I thought. I started to show the animation about Master Shinran’s life on a screen in my village. I asked my friend to help me distribute flyers around the village, which was in a mountainous area. I myself also distributed flyers using my motorized wheelchair. Out of one hundred houses, thirty people came to watch the movie. More than ten are continually attending to this day. I keep remembering all the faces of the many people I met in my former job and I call them one by one to come and watch the movie. Each time I watch the movies, they leave a different impression on me. I want to watch them over and over again and let everyone else watch them too. I aim to watch them 100 times.
Having been taught to make Buddhism my top priority, I have become busy at this age. On days when I wasn’t going to a lecture, I would think I should head to the field, but then it would rain. I wasn’t able to finish planting the onions that I was supposed to plant last November. I finally finished planting them this February. The ones I planted earlier withered because of frost, while the ones I planted later grew vigorously bigger and higher towards the light. Even if all of them had withered, it would be incomparable to the crucial matter of afterlife.
I have no doubt that there is no one else like Takamori- sensei in this world. I will keep the crucial matter of afterlife in my mind, and I will give top priority to listening to Buddhism so that I can move onwards. Takamori- sensei, please guide us.
by Nobuko Sugii, Hiroshima prefecture
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #30 | 2013, I Found He Has A Clear Mission
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