From Where Did I Come & to Where Am I Going

Even now, I cannot get my mind off of one occurrence from when I was just old enough to be aware of the world around me. One day when I was little, I was drawing a picture on the ground in my yard when I felt that there was already a gaping wide hole in my mind. “What in the world am I doing here..?” I thought, and I felt empty. If I could not decide to be born or to die, which are all-important things, what can I choose or decide within this life?

I grew up with this sense of resignation, and in my late teens, I would go to book shops and read books on religion, philosophy and life. In my twenties, I started going to the Unification Church and studied the Bible, but I found it to be full of contradictions. “Ah, I wonʼt find here what Iʼm seeking,” I concluded. Before I knew it, time went by and I was very busy with my marriage and raising children. But even though I had my children, who were more precious to me than my own life, I still felt a cold wind blowing through the hole in my mind.

No matter what I did, my childhood memory of pondering “What am I doing here?” would often come back to me. “What will close this hole in my mind? What will become of me if I keep going like this...?” During these times when I was full of worries, I hoped that immersing myself in building a house once my children were in high school would bury that hole.

But it was just the same in the end. My emptiness and anxiousness only worsened. At that time, I wrote down my unspoken feelings in a notebook. Seeing no value in my existence at all, I felt that even the grass and rocks by the side of the road were superior to me. “You donʼt have to think about why you are living or why you exist right here, huh... I donʼt want to think about deep things like where I came from or where Iʼm going to go any more. I want to be grass by the side of the road like you in my next life.”

Still holding on to thoughts like those, my marriage and household fell apart, and afterwards I drifted through Jehovahʼs Witnesses, ethics, new religious movements, temples, etcetera, but I couldnʼt find what I was looking for no matter where I went. I was continually saying to myself, “No, not this one. No, this one is wrong, too... it must be retribution for making others suffer in my past life,” I convinced myself, evading the matter as if nothing was wrong on the surface.

However, I did not tell anyone my true thoughts, and my tendency to blame others and feelings of worry did not cease. As a result, I grew weary of the way I had become over the past year or so, and I ended up drinking alcohol, which I had never been able to handle. I just wanted to get away from my mind and relax even for a little while. Even though I tried to be positive, I would still curse and resent people that had done unreasonable things to me in the past. All I kept thinking was, “If life means suffering like this, I would rather die...” However, no matter what, the existence of my children served as my support and gave me the strength to keep living.

Encounter with Sacred Teaching

In the hot summer of last year, I was like a shell and didnʼt even have the energy to open the mail box. It was the beginning of September by the time I opened my mail box, now filled with letters. Then some words on a flyer caught my eye. “What kind of meaning is there to this life? Why do we have to live even though life is painful?”

Shocked to see that the questions that had been screaming in my mind were written on this flyer, I thought, “I want to listen at all costs!” I waited for the day of the lecture and went to the hall where it was going to be held. When I heard Ondokusan as background music, the melody sank into my mind and I was overwhelmed with tears.

Up until that point, I had vaguely known the Law of Cause and Effect, which I heard about for the first time during the lecture, as “you reap what you sow”. The moment I realized Continued from page 1 that there were clear-cut teachings like this, my heart rejoiced and I was released from the curse Iʼd held for all this time. I feel that Iʼve finally encountered the sacred teachings; Iʼve finally found genuine treasure.

I think that if I had not been so beaten down by what happened in the past and by my hatred for the injustices that were done to me, my arrogant self would never have understood the Law of Cause and Effect. I so dearly wish that I had met the teachings ten years earlier, but I will cherish the present moment and move towards the light.

Akiko Imamura

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #18 | 2012, From Where Did I Come & to Where Am I Going

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