Step by Step

“You have no need to come into work as of tomorrow,” said my boss. Suddenly, I was laid off. Even though I had worked incredibly hard, I was thrown out like trash. “This is the third time I’ve been laid off…” Before I knew it, my smile had faded away. Although I studied at the Buddhist Academy with a view to becoming a Buddhist teacher, I became ill, so I went back to my home in Osaka and took another path. This was twelve years ago. I then started to work as a temporary employee in order to become a regular employee.

At first, I was in charge of monitoring a credit card company’s ATM transaction system. My work started from ten o’clock at night. People from across Japan were applying for credit card loans one after another, even in the middle of the night, so I had no time to take a rest. If we experienced any system errors, it may be ten hours or even twenty hours before it was fixed and I could go home. Since the development room was underground, we had no idea whether it was morning or night, sunny or raining. As we were sitting all day, it became difficult for us to walk.

All the employees in that room were expressionless and pale. It was not only one or two of my colleagues that stopped coming to the company without prior notice. I worked and worked until I couldn’t stand up anymore. Even so, the company casually tossed me aside at its own convenience. That was the reality of a temporary employee. I was transferred from one company to another. Since I had no sense of what was to come, my heart was filled with anxiety. “Why do I live?”

“My life is just a repeating cycle. What’s the point?” Such thoughts would pass through my mind. However, time only went by so quickly while I was driven by business.

One day in the evening after work, I went to listen to a Buddhist lecture despite being exhausted. In that lecture, the words of Master Rennyo shocked me greatly. “Buddhism must be listened to by setting aside the world’s affairs. Thinking that one should listen to Buddhist law when not occupied with the world’s affairs is shallow.”

“The assumption that it is enough to fit Buddhism in between other things in life is a disgraceful thing.” I was startled, though I had heard these words many times before then. When I was a university student, I talked about these words with my junior many times. I also went to the Buddhist Academy because I wanted to put all of my life into Buddhism.

Even so, I had become completely absorbed in my work, which is nothing but a worldly affair. This I saw now. Why was I born into this world? It was so I could resolve the crucial matter of the afterlife, which without resolution means inevitably falling into the waterfall basin of death. I felt I’d been awakened.

After that, I never missed a Buddhist lecture in my hometown, and I started to give out fliers too. My home city, Mino’o, is in the very urban prefecture of Osaka, yet it is surrounded by mountains. There are even signs warning of wild boars there. “What, wild boars!?” However, I told myself that there is no larger wild boar than a mountain, and every day I walked around posting fliers in mailbox after mailbox, visiting each of the fifty five thousand houses there.

After the evening lecture, I would deliver fliers until midnight, when I would go home. In the morning, I would wake up at 4:00 and spend two hours posting fliers before going to work. Even though I’d feel physically exhausted, the fatigue I felt was completely different from that of work. Somehow, the power to live would always come flooding back to me.

In the meantime, one person who saw a flier and came to listen to Buddhism became a Shinran Follower. That person was Mr. Makoto Hayasaka, who is now working as one of Shinrankai’s Garden Maintenance staff. Mr. Hayasaka said: “After retiring, I was wondering, ‘What should I live for now? What will give me solace?’ It was then that I got a flier. When I saw the words, ‘Why do we live?’ they pierced my heart intensely.” I thought, “Ah, here is a person who has been seeking the answer to the question of why we live! I’m so glad I was able to give a flier to Mr. Hayakawa!”

How happy I am that I came to know ‘why we live’ through the immeasurable painstaking efforts of Amida Buddha, Master Shinran, and Takamori-sensei! I also feel delighted to share this knowledge with people. I wouldn’t have been able to know such joy and happiness if I hadn’t gone forward and taken action.

Soon afterwards, a company decided to employ me as a regular employee. “Goodbye to my days as a temporary employee without sense of what is to come!” However, I rejected the offer right away. I wanted to be put to use solely for the sake of Buddhism. With this determination, I firmly decided to work for Shinrankai’s Publicity Bureau. Śākyamuni and Amida are our father and mother.

Full of love and compassion; Guiding us with various skillful means, The supreme Faith is made to arise in our heart. Everything was the skillful means of Amida Buddha put in place so I would come to know ‘why we live’. Looking back, none of my efforts were in vain, and not a single day was squandered. Every step I took while posting fliers under the night sky has made me what I am today; I wouldn’t be what I am now without it.

Now is the time to reveal ‘why we live’ to all humanity with Master Shinran in the animated movies. I came to know joy for life. I will move forward on the supreme path with my debt of gratitude for this in my heart.

Shuji Hattori, Toyama Supportive staff

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #43 | 2014, Step by Step

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