My parents and maternal grandparents have been Shinran Followers since before I was born. My mother always told me that I had been abroad and listened to Takamori-sensei’s lecture while I was in her womb. In elementary school, I was blessed with many friends and in soccer club I would run after the ball with all my might every day. Our efforts led to our team winning second place in a tournament, and I was chosen as the best player. Our team placed value on solidarity, and we shared the joy of winning with each other. That joy is still so vivid.
In junior high school, I joined a table tennis club. I felt refreshed when I smashed the ball and I lived a fulfilling life with fellow club members, sharing joys and sorrows. Those feelings were beyond description. I would attend Takamori-sensei’s lectures at that time, but I had no mind to pursue Buddhism seriously. I was absorbed in my club activities. I would only go to the 2,000-Tatami-Mat Hall because I wanted to see my best friends there and also because I wanted to avoid being scolded by my parents. “I want Sunday to be a day when I can play to my heart’s content.” “I want to do what I like freely.” I was really eager to run away from Buddhism. I always thought about excuses to be absent from the lectures. At the same time, my discontent toward my parents grew stronger for their encouraging me to listen to Buddhism.
In the meantime, when I was a third year student, there was a problem in my club. One of my club mates, who was a year my junior, was being bullied. He would get bad scores on tests and he was not good at sports, so other students around him would mock him cruelly. At first, I kept out of the issue. However, seeing him becoming more and more depressed day by day, I couldn’t stay still. One day, I found that he had been bad-mouthed many times by his classmates and was crying. Coming on the scene, I encouraged him with all my might, only to fail at stopping his tears.
Then, not too long afterwards, something happened that gave me a great shock. He hanged himself in his home. “Ah, I couldn’t help him even though I was his senior and saw him every day! Not only that, but I might have hurt him before I knew it.” A few months after that, when I had just entered high school, I received some news out of the blue. A teacher, who had educated me with such kindness for three years of my junior high school life, died suddenly. He had set off to work as sprightly as usual, but on his way he collapsed suddenly, and he passed away.
“Life is painful. Why do we live?” “We will die in the end. So why do we live?” Until that time, I had heard about the fragility of life and the issue of death from Takamori- sensei again and again. I had thought death was not my own problem, but now I felt that this crucial matter was thrust upon me. I came to think, “I want to know the purpose of life clearly. If I don’t listen to Buddhism intently, I will regret how I spent my life.” In the meantime, my mother recommended I join a circle of Shinran Followers at a university.
In the student group I learned the importance of listening to Buddhism and of learning Buddhist doctrine again and again. Since the teachings are so profound, many questions came up. My seniors spent ample time on answering these questions carefully, one by one. I thought, “Ah, what a shame that I wasn’t serious in pursuing the truth until now even though I had encountered it!” “Listen and believe without hesitation or delay.” These words of Master Shinran pierced my heart. I was once so eager to run away from Buddhism, yet last year saw me join the students’ Buddhist group. Looking back over the past year, that time was a treasure that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Now I can feel gratitude towards my parents who brought me back to Buddhism every time I tried to run away from it. Father, Mother, I really appreciate you. I will move forward on the one and only path of listening to Buddhism with all my might. Takamori-sensei, please provide me with your guidance.
The National Institute of Technology, Toyama College
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #52 | 2015, What a Shame I wasn’t Serious in Pursuing the Truth Even Though I had Encountered It!
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