Immortal Light Found in Buddhism (Part 1)

Experiences from the Kobe Earthquake

By Satomi Hirai, Hyogo

To the victims of the Eastern Japan Earthquake, I feel at a loss for words. Takamori Sensei and many Shinran followers kindly offered me their support at the time of the Kobe Earthquake 16 years ago. To this day, I cannot forget the Buddhist sermon I attended in the town of Mie a week after the earthquake amid the feelings of helplessness and desperation. I remember reflecting on the following verse carefully and deeply as if I heard it for the first time: “Though the universe should become a sea of flames, he who crosses it to hear the Name of Amida will achieve everlasting salvation.”

Then I humbly listened to the lecture, contemplating what exactly I lost in the earthquake. Nothing in this world is truly our own—not the clothes we wear, the house we work all our lives to buy, our pets and our loved ones, not even a single blade of grass—for we must leave everything behind when we cease to be. Yet, while in this world, we have the physical body that enables us to listen to Buddhism. This must be what it means to live with a purpose. If so, I did not lose anything. The earthquake has taught me that there is nothing more precious than being able to live and listen to Buddhism.

By Hiroshi Yamamoto, Fukuoka Missionary

When I met with an earthquake of magnitude 7 in Nada ward, KobeCity, I earnestly thought I might die. The building next door collapsed and several people died as a result. Worse yet, tens of people died at a local shopping arcade due to fire. Witnessing people lose their homes, families, and everything else in a mere 20 seconds, I was reminded of the fragility and brevity of life. As the initial wave of shock settled, Kobe citizens slowly began to pick up the pieces of their lives. While there were many students from all over Japan who volunteered to rebuild the city of Kobe, only the students of Shinran, or Shinran followers, could pass on Amida’s Vow to mend the disheartened soul. That year, Shinran followers joined forces to promulgate the teaching of Amida, and as a result, many earthquake victims also became Shinran followers. I wish the victims of the Eastern Japan Earthquake a swift recovery, and hope sincerely that they will move toward the light.

(To be continued...)

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #04 | 2011, Immortal Light Found in Buddhism (Part 1)

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