My wife of 35 years passed away in September 2010. Abashed by the sudden wind of impermanence, I lost my motivation to go on and barely managed to go to work. Since all of my four children lived out of the prefecture, I felt inconsolably alone and forlorn.
In the Heart of an Atheist
A few days after my wifeʼs passing, even though I had been an atheist until then, my mind became preoccupied with such questions as ʻWhere has she gone and what is she doing now?ʼ I started spending most of my spare time reading and I devoured books such as Motivation to Live by Iida Fumihiko and many religious texts as well. In Master Shinran, and before I knew it, every morning before dawn, I was visiting the True Pure Land Buddhist temple, where I had my late wifeʼs funeral officiated. For 100 days, I bicycled 3-4 kilometers (1.8-2.5 miles) to practice deep breathing meditation and prayed so that I could feel my wifeʼs presence and talk to her.
It was around that time that I came across Shinrankaiʼs website. I began reading brochures on Buddhism since then and participated in a Buddhist study group for the first time at the end of last February. As I listened to Mr. Unoki Shuichi, the Chief of the Okinawa chapter, admittedly rather incredulously at first, I found myself gravitating to the teachings and began to practice my morning chant at the Okinawa Shinran Center. Whenever I had questions, Mr. Unoki kindly answered them one by one with care and thoughtfulness. After participating in Gotan-e (Celebration of Master Shinranʼs birth) in June, I humbly became a Shinran follower and started to visit the 2000-Tatami-Mat Hall twice a month.
Warmth Found in Strictness
Hoping to learn more about Master Shinranʼs teachings, I, in gratitude, attended training at the Buddhist Academy in Awara City, Fukui Prefecture. I will never forget the four days I spent at the school: There was warmth in the strictness of the teachings. Invisible yet irreplaceable gifts from the teachers and peers were heaped upon me. By the same token, I was made aware of my shortcomings and was discouraged by the discovery; however, rather than sinking into depression, I was able to take them in strides, thanks to Amidaʼs power and everyoneʼs sincere effort to adhere to his teachings.
While I have much to improve, I strive to be a true Shinran follower one step at a time. Following the training, I was appointed as a Web Conference host. I am now determined to convey Master Shinranʼs teachings to my four children, my brothers and their families.
By Dr. Takashi Shimabukuro
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #13 | 2012, Where Did My Late Wife’s Soul Go
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