The Man on the Street was An Old-dayʼs Classmate!
It was the day after the great earthquake of East Japan when Toshiko Nishikawa’s (from Takashima city in Shiga prefecture) cell phone rang while she was driving a small truck. She stopped her car by the roadside in a hurry to answer the call. A passing man worried called out to her. When Nishikawa said that she was on her way to attend a lecture on Buddhism, he replied, “Actually I’ve been wanting to study Buddhism too”. She immediately gave him the Japanese version of YOU WERE BORN FOR A REASON and introduced him to Akio Hashimoto (photo) who is a Shinran follower in the same age group. When Hashimoto called that man the next day, they found out that they were classmates in junior high school!!! They began to meet frequently and talked about life and Buddhism and the following month, together, they went to listen to a lecture on Buddhism at the 2000-Tatami- Mat Hall.
A Third Grader Memorizes the Doctrines “Up to Test Number Seven”
A third grade elementary school student Ryota Heibata (Ishikawa prefecture) laughed shyly and said: “To memorize Buddhist doctrines in Q&A format is fun!” He passed the first exam in March this year and now he is studying for exam No. 2. Since the autumn of last year, he began memorizing the doctrines eagerly. He read an article in the Kensho newspaper that a third grader had just passed the first exam on the Buddhist doctrines.Ryota declared to his parents that he would pass the same test while he is a second grader. He practiced writing sentences in difficult Chinese characters over and over again. He continues attending lectures with his grandmother and parents every month. He unconsciously leans forward when the sentences that he has memorized happen to be displayed on digital boards during lectures. When we asked Ryota, “What is your goal?”, he answered vigorously: “I want to pass the Buddhist doctrine exams up to number seven.”
A Local Lecture Hall Enables Us To Chant Before Lectures
Shinran followers in Shikoku district could not chant before video lectures. But gradually they started saying, “It is a must that we chant before the lecture.” This must arise from the heart of respecting SEIGOHONZON. So the missionary Jun Kitamura had a negotiation with a local hall which is located at Marugame city in Kagawa prefecture and finally they could set an altar at the hall. People who attend the lectures are very happy and appreciate the fact, saying “Since we set an altar, we can worship Amida Buddha, offer some sweets and flowers and it makes us treasure each lecture.”
For 30 Years, He Could Not Live Without These Two Books
Takamori Sensei’s books are essential in my life and they have always been with me for the last 30 years,” Kouichi Yamamoto of Hiroshima Prefecture says on looking back at his past. He first encountered Buddhism in his school days in Nagoya and got hold of the books called “The White Path and the Blaze” and “Q&As on True Pure Land Buddhism” at a lecture held in Gifu prefecture. He felt awkward about religion and withdrew from Shinran Center for awhile. However, the feeling of emptiness, no matter how hard he immersed himself in work, always lingered in his heart. Also he always had this hunch that he could find the meaning of life in Master Shinran’s words. This is why he had kept those two books with him ever since even after several times of moving. Last summer, one flyer brought him back to a study session on Buddhism and 4 months later, he became a Shinran follower. He says “My days are numbered, so I will just keep moving forward toward the goal.” He is eager to achieve his purpose of life and goes to the 2000- Tatami-Mat Hall every month.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #06 | 2011, Follower's Voice
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