Making a Pledge with the Castle of Truth
Wakana Serizawa, Toyama Prefecture
It feels somewhat surreal that a Shinran Center has been built in Shizuoka and that Takamori-sensei honored us with his visit there. During the Q&A session, we learned about Heizei gōjo (achieving the purpose of life while we are alive).
People rely on various things such as family, money, and possessions. There is no doubt that such things are important while we are alive, but they offer us no support once we lose our lives. Even so, I think that everybody has forgotten about the great problem of death.
Since my childhood, my parents have been saying that an enormous earthquake is going to happen, and we have therefore put a lot of effort into preparing for the earthquake. I have taken part in countless fire drills and learned how to deal effectively with disaster situations. We also came to understand the enormity of an earthquake when we saw the big earthquake in the Northeast part of Japan.
Additionally, a crucial matter that is infinitely more fearsome than any earthquake is approaching as we speak. There are people who may not encounter any earthquakes, but all people will surely face death. I was astounded that while people listen carefully to the warnings about earthquakes and put all their might into dealing with them, they are not aware of the crucial matter of the afterlife, which we were
warned about by Shakyamuni 2,600 years ago as well as by Master Shinran and Master Rennyo since then. If all we pursue are material things, then we will end our lives in tragedy like Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who died saying, “Life is like a dream within a dream.” I feel fortunate to have learned from Master Shinran that the purpose of life is to resolve the crucial matter of the afterlife now in a split second while I am still alive. That is why Master Shinran is called the light of the world. Being mindful of this joy, I will listen to Buddhism and share the teaching of “heizei gōjo” with my family and friends in Shizuoka.
Having an Impact on Each Person
Takako Ishii, Buddhist Teacher
I am very pleased to know that a new Shinran Center has opened in Shizuoka, where I used to be engaged in teaching Buddhism. It was the first time for me to be in charge of a prefecture with a small number of True Pure Land Buddhist followers, and so at first I did not know what to do.
Most of the local people did not have a chance to revere Amida Buddha. Instead, false religions flourished and caused people to be at a loss and suffer. I heard of a person who built a new house but had to live in an apartment for five years before he finally moved in the house. This was because he believed in the superstition that “the move-in date is destined.”
I often saw signs for palm-reading or other kinds of fortune-telling on the streets, while in people’s houses, there were lots of Buddha statues and charms. People suffered all the more because of their beliefs in those superstitions. However, even though they had not even heard the name of Master Shinran, people were responsive to the phrase “why we live” and came one after another to listen to the teachings.
Thankfully, misunderstandings of the teachings of True Pure Land Buddhism are not as ingrained as I had thought, and since people in this prefecture are religious in general, more and more people came to seek the truth as I conveyed Master Shinran’s teachings kindly and clearly.
Now I am teaching Buddhism in Kanto District, where again there is a small number of True Pure Land Buddhists. Every time I watch Vol. 4 of the animated movie on Master Shinran, I cannot help but think of the hardships Master Shinran went through in the district. Standing in the vast Musashino Plateau and cutting through people’s superstitions and false religions, he taught the truth to the people living there.
Just as the Master went from house to house knocking on doors, I will do my best to have an impact on each person’s heart and convey the answer to “why we live.”
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #41 | 2014, Thoroughly Conveying the Teaching of Heizei-Gōjo
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