The Teaching I was waiting for

3 Kinds of Nembutsu Come Clear in Web Conference

We would like to introduce to you a Shinran follower from England; her name is Nichola Gant also known as Nikki.

Since I was a child, I often saw or heard how religion is used as a tool of hatred or discrimination. However, the teachings of Master Shinran is the teaching of benefiting oneself and others and each Shinran follower puts it into practice. I think that the future of Shinran Center will only get brighter and brighter.

If the whole world is revealed of the law of cause and effect and the true image of humankind, all people will be able to exercise compassion towards one another. In this world where discrimination is rampant and people who commit suicide are on the rise, there is a necessity for true love of humankind.

Nikkiʼs impression of the Houonkou lecture last year is the following: “After I return to England too, I would like to listen to the web conferences.” Nikki, who returned home in November of last year, sent us a memoir of how she encountered the teachings of Master Shinran:

How is everyone in Japan? I am now in the county of Kent, surrounded by nature and very peaceful. While in Japan last year, I was embraced by everyone’s kindness and was honored with an opportunity to help with translation work as well. I feel so proud of that. I feel like I want to return to Japan again and help with translation there.

Let me tell you about why I became interested in the teachings of Master Shinran.

I have long been interested in religions, and my interest in them became particularly strong during my teens. When I was a child, life seemed to be a wonderful, magical dream, almost like a Disney movie. However, as I grew older, I began to see the reality of life, and I became very disillusioned. I think this is at least partially why my interest in religions surged when it did.

During primary and secondary school, we had to take classes on religions, which included the basics of various world religions. Curiously enough, even though Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in England and also the religion with which my mother identifies, it was that one in particular that I found I could not quite understand. When tasked with writing essays on, say, Hinduism or Buddhism, I would usually get a fairly good grade, but I tended to do badly on essays about Christianity. For some reason, I just could not get my head round it.

Magical Six Words?

At university, I studied Japanese, and I had planned to take some floater classes in music, as I have always had a deep passion for music. Unfortunately, however, the ones I wanted to take clashed with my schedule. Wondering what to do instead, I ended up deciding on the Introduction to Buddhism class, as well as Religions of Central and East Asia, which included Buddhism. I also heard some interesting Japanese Buddhist tales during Aspects of Japanese Culture class, including one that my classmates and I found somewhat amusing because of the surprise ending:

There was once a cruel man who owned many horses, which he would use for transporting goods. He would often beat the animals and force them to bear loads that were too heavy for them. Once the horses were no longer able to do his bidding, he would mercilessly kill them. One day, this man was cooking something on a stove. He went to look at what was in the pot, and all of a sudden, his eyes fell out of his sockets and into the boiling liquid! This was apparently karmic retribution for his cruelty.

The Law of Cause and Effect taught in Buddhism is absent from Christianity which teaches that our fate is given by God. In this way my interest in Buddhism grew and the next year too I completed a course on Japanese religions. I remember hearing about Pure Land Buddhism in this class. The basic impression was that all you had to do was say the nembutsu at least once, and you’d be saved. I scoffed at this notion, especially after having learned of all the hardships that people in history had endured in their quests to reach Nirvana. “Say six words and you’re magically saved?! Pfft! As if it could be so easy to escape samsara!”

Nichola Gant, England

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #07 | 2011, The Teaching I was waiting for

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The Buddhist Village Times #07

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