A New Castle of Namu Amida Butsu

Shimane prefecture, Japan

A new Shinran Center of six characters of Namu Amida Butsu has come into existence in Ooda city, Shimane Prefecture. Dr. Akira Santo (picture), who is well-liked by people around as the “town doctor” decided to make an offer for his closed hospital to be turned into a Shinran Center. This place is the first Shinran Center in Sanin (West part of Japan) region. “This hospital was originally built to treat the diseases of the body; however, from now on, I would like this building to be the one to treat the disease of the mind. Iʼm happy I can contribute in this way to the neighbors who have helped and supported me a lot.” Dr. Santo devoted his life to providing his patients with treatment. Whenever and wherever he was told about someone who was not well, he would immediately go to see them, even deep in the mountain at midnight. Until recently, his hospital was full with over 100 patients everyday.

However, his hospital closed last year. Dr. Santo did not allow it to go in vain and so turned his hospital, well-liked by many people, into a new castle of Six Characters solely to convey the teachings of Master Shinran. Based on his rich experience from involvement in the medical field for more than 50 years, he concludes that “The worst tragedy is not knowing the true teaching of Buddhism.”

He told us about a traumatic event involving a patient who was transferred to a major hospital due to an acute illness. He and his family needed to make a tough decision whether to have an artificial respirator or not. With an artificial respirator, he could live at least a year, but at the same time somebody needed to pay for it and take care of him.

The primary doctor said to the patientʼs wife that once an artificial respirator is put on, it cannot be easily taken off. The wife faced a tough situation because she wanted her husbandʼs life to be extended. However, she was ill too, and nobody could take care of him. Although she wanted to save his life, she could not come up with a clear answer to the question of why it is good to survive longer. What is the purpose of prolonging life even by a second? Nobody could answer it, not even doctors.” Dr. Santo said to the woman, “Even if we prolong our life with medicine, we will die anyway in the end. So for what reason do we prolong life even by a second or a minute? I want everyone to ask themselves this question, which will surely lead them to know and listen to Buddhism.”

We have a purpose of life to fulfill and until then we need to fight against disease. "The great compasssion of Amida Buddha's Vow is aimed at those who have a short and ephemeral life. (quoted from Kuden-sho written by Master Kakunyo)." Buddhism solely teaches Amida Buddhaʼs swift salvation, which has the power to save us even if we are on our deathbed.

“I am most pleased to make a donation for this Shinran Center for people to gather and listen to the teachings. Needless to say, the medical field which treats our diseases is important; however, we all have a grave problem of the afterlife, which cannot be solved by medicine. I would like to devote my life to understand the true meaning of the six characters of Namu Amida Butsu in order to save the problem of our eternal soul,” said Dr. Santo.

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #15 | 2012, A New Castle of Namu Amida Butsu

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The Buddhist Village Times #15

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