I have come to know the distinction between “Why we live” and “pastimes and temporal goals.” I was always fascinated with the profession of doctors as a temporal goal in my life and actually have already achieved that goal. Certainly, successful people such as Nobel prize-winners in the medical field easily become the target of envy. However, those celebrated people are little better than fools who live for the sake of living from the perspective of Master Shinran’s teaching.
Through this lecture, I came to realize the veracity of Master Rennyo’s words, “Even if he knows eighty thousand teachings of the Buddha, a man who knows nothing of the life to come is a fool.” In Master Shinran’s major book Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment, he declared, “Not knowing what is true and what is provisional causes people to miss the great benefit of Amida’s compassion.”
This means, “Those who cannot tell the difference between the true (life’s true purpose) and the provisional (human relationships, pastimes, and temporal goals) do not know the ultimate purpose of life, and so miss out on the joy in living that makes us rejoice, ‘How wonderful that I was born human!’” The single sentence above fully explains the relationship between the true and the provisional. In other words, “why we live” is “the true” and “how we live” is “the provisional.” We can enter the true from the provisional in a split second of Ichinen.
In addition, we can understand that the means to live (the provisional) becomes important because the purpose of life (the true) is such a great matter. That Master Shinran could express the relationship between the truth and the provisional in just one line fascinates me, and I can see why he is praised as “the light of the world.” Since people only know ‘how to live’, we are absolutely amazed at the grave problem of ‘why we live’, and are taken aback by the fact that this is a purpose of myriad lives.
I cannot be thankful enough for the fact that a person like me, who is totally consumed with ‘how to live’, is driven to spread ‘why we live’. I pledge that I will follow Master Shinran’s teachings and put them into practice in my daily practice of medical care. Thank you for your guidance.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #31 | 2013, The Jealous are Merely Fools
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