Once upon a time, a caravan traveled across the desert. There were five hundred merchants in the caravan. The desert was like a vast ocean of sand. It was boiling during the day and cold at night, blanketed by sand as far as the eye could see, with no rivers or lakes. The only places a caravan could find water were oases, like tiny green islands in an ocean of dry sand. As they crossed the desert, the caravan traveled from oasis to oasis to secure water. The caravan traveled with camels, unlike people who did not need to drink water frequently. One day, the caravan took a little longer to get to the next oasis than usual, and all the water they carried was consumed. When the caravan reached the mountainside, the young leader of the caravan told everyone, “The next oasis is over the mountain, but we need to feed the camels now. Please be patient for a while.
We see some grass here, so let’s dig the ground and see if we can find some water here.” Some people started to feed camels, and some people began to explore. They dug and dug, but there was no water. Everyone was disappointed. Then someone shouted, “Gold!” He had found gold, instead. They were overjoyed and forgot about their thirst and started digging again. It seemed like enormous amounts of gold were reserved under the ground. The leader saw the camels were well fed and said, “Everyone, let’s move to the oasis before it gets too late.” He was concerned about the time needed to travel to the next oasis and people’s health without water. He knew the situation without water was critical and could be fatal to everyone, but no one listened to him, and they continued to dig for gold, sweat dripping from their brows. The leader shouted, “Come on, everybody! Let’s go!” But his warning fell on deaf ears. (Jataka Tales “500 merchants”)
You can imagine what happened to the people in that caravan. Buddha said that if we are clingy and possessive, even about what very little we have, it’s not true contentment. In this story, the people were driven by their desires, drowned by their ocean of selfishness, and ended their lives in a tragic, self-centered, and greedy way. They died for a better living. They died believing that wealth would bring them contentment. Buddha said, “True contentment is wealth.”
Buddhism is a path/teaching of awareness. Everyone desires some form of understanding and happiness; however, when we misunderstand why and how we can attain happiness, negative results may happen. This example expresses the consequences which come about when we forget ourselves and the Three Poisons of “greed,” “anger,” and “ignorance/foolishness” overcome us. Understanding, reflecting upon, and practicing the Buddha/Dharma, the Universal Truths, is the path to my awakening and everyday truths. One does not need to go far to understand that this is the way or means to awaken truths. Just as darkness is all around, the Light of the Buddha is constantly embracing me/us as well. The Light of the Buddha brings clarity to see through the darkness.
The light of wisdom exceeds all measures,
And every finite living being
Receives this illumination that is like the dawn,
So take refuge in Amida, the true and natural light. (Jodo Wasan #4)
Namo Amida Butsu
AKEMASHITE OMEDETOU GOZAIMASU!
Happy New Year! May the Infinite Light of Life of Amida Buddha awaken a new sense of joy for being able to welcome a brand new year into our lives.
Your efforts and dedication to the Lihue Hongwanji Mission over the past year have demonstrated the strength and dedication of our Sangha. The maintenance and improvements made to our temple and its facilities by the volunteers, Hosha group, and friends of the Temple have, and will, benefit the Lihue Hongwanji as well as the community in which we live. The gifts and support of our LHWA and the staff and parents of the Lihue Hongwanji Preschool have helped to bring the reality of the Buddha’s teachings of interrelations, interdependence into this life we are living for all to see. The further support of our activities of the Pickleball group, Lihue Kendo club, and Lihue Aiki-kai are gratefully acknowledged by our Temple’s Membership.
The Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii’s slogan for this year will be “Building Healthy Sanghas: Sharing Joy Together”. Shinran Shonin stated in “Honorable Writing on the End of Life” (Gorinmatsu-no-gosho):
Though I now go to the Pure Land of Peace,
Like the waves of Waka-no-ura Bay,
I will return again and again.
When you rejoice alone in the sacred teaching,
Consider that there are actually two.
When there are two who rejoice,
Consider that there are actually three…
And that third will be Shinran.
In other words, although Shinran Shonin has aged and is allowed to be born in the Pure Land of Peace and Tranquility (Amida Buddha’s world of Enlightenment), Shinran Shonin will not remain there. Instead, he will return to this world, again and again, doing all he can to bring even one more person to the awareness of the precious Nembutsu teaching.
As the beginning of year 2023, I would like to wish you and your family a very meaningful and fulfilling year. I would also like to express my sincerest appreciation and gratitude to all of you for making this past year a most valuable and rewarding experience. To be able to share the Nembutsu Teaching with you has been a truly wonderful experience for me. Let us continue to work together in 2023 to make Lihue Hongwanji Mission a conducive environment to hear the Nembutsu Teachings.
May gratitude and appreciation enter your life as you awaken to the Nembutsu Teachings