“The 2,000 Tatami Mat Hall is a place for conveying Master Shinran’s teachings correctly,” said Mr. Makoto Maruya and his wife, Sayoko (pictured, right). “I have been through many troubles and difficulties, but now I feel all this suffering was the working of Amida Buddha to lead me to listen to Buddhism.” So said Makoto Maruya from Sendai City, who joined the Correct Object of Reverence Granting Ceremony at Tohoku Shinran Center this August.
Makoto had long been working for a construction firm as a first-class architect, supervising construction sites for large facilities such as plants or schools. However, four years ago, he had a sudden stroke that resulted in a partial paralysis. He had to stay in the hospital. Two weeks later, the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred.
“Suddenly, there came a shake that felt like it was bursting up from the ground. Out of the hospital window, I saw smoke rising from the city and I realized that something terrible had happened. Before long, I was in a wheelchair and being taken out of the hospital room, where all the lights had gone out.
“I heard that my house had collapsed too due to the heavy quake. I thought, “Why has such a terrible thing happened only to me even though I had been working so hard until now?”
“Why We Live” on the Radio
Terrified by the series of aftershocks following the earthquake, Makoto felt a sense of despair as he lay in his hospital bed. It was then that the radio program “Why We Live” reached his ears. “‘Why We Live’, which was exactly what I was thinking about at that time, came from the radio. Moreover, I learned that the answer lies in the teachings of Master Shinran and thought I had to listen to this. I listened to the program very carefully.” From then on, he looked forward to the broadcast each week.
One day, when he did a web search for “Why we live” and “Master Shinran,” the Shinrankai homepage appeared in the results. He was captivated by the full-screen picture of the 2,000 Tatami Mat Hall. “I am an architect, so I was surprised at the fineness of the structure.” There are no pillars in the large space of the 12-meter-high 2,000 Tatami Mat Hall.
“As a specialist, I am well aware of the difficulty of such a structure. I wanted to visit and see the building.”
The Meaning of Being Saved Twice
This April, when Makoto retired, he and his wife planned to travel around the Hokuriku Area. They got themselves in good condition for the journey and headed first for the 2,000 Tatami Mat Hall. Getting off the expressway, they arrived at the Shinran Center. A female receptionist showed them around the building.
“The building was well-cleaned and the lady, pushing my wheelchair, kindly explained details about the facility. I was impressed by her gentle words.” The lady who showed them around was Hiroko Soeda. She said, “As the Marutanis looked around the building, their smiles kept getting bigger. I felt like the building itself was teaching Buddhism to them.” After that, the Maruyas and Soeda kept in touch through letters and the Maruyas joined a Buddhist lecture in Sendai City. Then this June, they attended a lecture in the 2,000 Tatami Mat Hall for the first time.
Makoto Maruya said, “‘The great task of my life can be accomplished in this moment.’ I realized that no other teaching is more wonderful than Master Shinran’s. Even though I have been assailed by both a stroke and the earthquake, my life was saved twice. Now I know my suffering until now was not in vain.
“I can only think that Master Shinran and the 2,000 Tatami Mat Hall led me here.” He became a Shinran Follower together with his wife Sayoko.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #58 | 2015, Awe at the 2,000 Mat Hall Forms their Bond with Buddhism
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The Buddhist Village Times #58