No one could hardly believe their eyes. The best disaster damage prevention plan in the world was smashed by the unexpectedly massive earthquake and tsunami, and calm and beautiful port towns on the coast of the Pacific Ocean were totally destroyed. The Great East Japan Earthquake resulted in the most devastating disaster after the war with over 20,000 people dead or missing (as of March 20). There is nobody who does not feel pain in their hearts, imagining the sorrow and hardship of the victims.
Many Shinran followers have fallen victim, too. We are worrying about the safety of many followers in Iwate and Miyagi, but, they may be protected by buddhas, since most of them barely escaped danger and others have been found safe one after another.
In the meantime, a special party named Tohoku Relief Party has delivered Takamori Sensei’s letter of sympathy (printed above) and relief goods to the followers in the stricken area, which has given moral and material support to the victims. The party reported that many of the followers, receiving necessary goods such as gasoline, kerosene, water, bread, retort curry and other foods, or clothes that have been in short supply, were patient and acted courageously even in such an extremely difficult situation.
Needless to say, we should provide aid for other victims. Shinran Center has made a relief donation through the Japanese Red Cross Society and this is because we hope that they recover from the disaster as quickly as possible and have a connection with Buddhism.
However, we Shinran followers must not misunderstand the most important thing we should do. Takako Kawana in Fukushima read Takamori Sensei’s message and said, “This world is truly fleeting and unstable as a burning house. Just as “sai no kawara” or Children’s Limbo, we pile up stones but get them knocked down, and then pile them up again but get them knocked down again. I wonder what my life is for. I must listen to Buddhism. I really appreciate that Takamori Sensei gave me such a message.”
Even when politics budgets for recovery, medicine saves the victims from death, science creates safer nuclear power plants, the Japanese economy takes a turn for the better and we eventually enjoy prosperity again, there will still remain a crucial matter. In the recent earthquake we have experienced a series of disasters and accidents beyond human knowledge, but the greatest problem “beyond human knowledge” is definitely our own death.
Death always strikes us all of a sudden. We all know that we are destined to perish someday, and then “Why go on living at such a cost?” Where is everlasting happiness? As long as the answer to the question is unclear, human beings will never be able to get away from the tragedy of “sai no kawara.” We Shinran followers are the only people who know the answer very well.
The purpose for which we should overcome any difficulty and go on living is nothing but to encounter the absolute salvation of Amida. This is why Master Shinran devoted his whole life of 90 years to disseminating Amida’s Vow. Therefore, Shinran followers have only one thing to do and nothing else: thoroughly conveying Amida’s Vow.
“All sentient beings, rely on me. I will save you into absolute happiness without fail.” No deed is more noble and valuable than thoroughly conveying the Great Vow of the Master of all buddhas to the sea of all sentient beings. The schedule of Master Shinran’s 750th anniversary has been decided.
Let us turn the tragedy of the great earthquake to an opportunity for Buddhism and a great chance for the salvation of human beings. Now is the time for us to rouse ourselves to action.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #04 | 2011, The Great Earthquake and the 750th Anniversary
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