Ms. Tanaka had been leading a painful life, but she never lost hope. “I’d like to get married…” “It’d be nice to have a child…” Those wishes came true. She was blessed with a gentle husband and two children. However, one day, when she was in her thirties, her eldest son, at ten years old, was killed in a traffic accident.
She blamed herself for failing to protect her child. “I may find peace if I walk in front of a moving train,” she thought, staggering toward a railroad crossing. Listening to the crossing gate bell, she made her way step by step towards an oncoming train. Then, suddenly, a thought flitted through her mind: “I might get to know the purpose of life if I keep living.” She stopped.
Since then, she has been struggling to escape from the suffering of losing a child. Once she even went all the way to Kyushu to see a shaman. Sitting in front of the family Buddhist altar, she thought about what to offer to her deceased child so as to appease his loneliness.
Time went by; her younger son grew up and left home, while her husband passed away last June. “I’m alone again,” she thought.
Meanwhile, in March, a flyer was placed in her mailbox. A picture of Master Shinran on the flyer caught her eye. She did not know why, but her mind shouted, “Buddhism? I definitely want to listen to Master Shinran’s teachings!”
She attended the animation lecture and was moved by the life of Master Shinran, who devoted himself to clarifying the purpose of life. Upon discovering that it was Mitsuko Nagai who had delivered the flyer to her, Tanaka said to her, “This flyer has saved my life. Thank you.” They held each other’s hands tightly. Tanaka still keeps the flyer in her ‘treasure box’.
She also attends local Buddhist lectures. Hoping to board the “great ship that carries us across the sea that is difficult to cross,” she became a Shinran Follower in September. Attending the ‘55th anniversary lecture’ for two days, she expressed her delight: “My husband and son taught me the impermanence of life. Listening to the orthodox teachings of Master Shinran and accomplishing the ultimate purpose of life while still living will be the very best thing I can do for them. I swear to Amida Buddha that I will attend the lecture at the 2000-Tatami- Mat Hall every month.”
Taking a walk around the pond near her house and gazing at the lotus flowers there, she finds herself reciting the following verse:
The world is ephemeral like a dream
Life, transient, the child has taught
Who returned to the light, is our teacher.
Fumiko Tanaka (Kyoto, 74)
Contributed by Mitsuo Kataoka
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #35 | 2014, This Flyer Has Saved My Life
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