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.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #41 | 2014, Making a Pledge with the Castle of Truth
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