When I was assigned to Koloa Jodo Mission in 1999, there were more active Nisei members. Because they worked so hard, I had almost nothing to do for them and I didn't have any special talent either, except chanting sutras. All I could do for them was, I thought, maybe dishwashing. So I tried to do dishwash many times but they never let me to do. They told me, "Sensei, sit down and relax. That's our job." I cannot forget their kind voices and faces, dedications and kindness.
16 years have passed by here on Kauai. Lately at our New Year's Party at Koloa, I found myself doing dishwashing very naturally. Nobody told me not to do dishwashing anymore! Rather I had more things to do and responsibilities. Without knowing it, I've become such a hard worker and gotten a talent of making Sushi and cake. I'm now very proud I am always sharing Sushi to our members, friends and visitors. And this is all thanks to Jodo Mission, members and friends.
Reflecting upon my past 16 years, I'm so very grateful for knowing Nisei members and some Issei. Their dedications was incredible. Many of them were not young. They could be relaxed more at home. But I saw they spent 100% energy and much time to temple. Without knowing their sincerity and efforts, I couldn't have been a hard worker. It is sad, one by one, they passed away or got to be older and older. But this fact made me naturally take over their jobs. At the same time, thanks to the temple which couldn't pay me enough, I was able to work outside at Sushi bar, Movies' Extra (I've been a SAG member ), and tour guide, too. As a result of doing some part time jobs and more temple jobs, I got "experiences" that cannot be bought.
Recently, I really enjoyed reading biographies and essays of some successful Japanese business men such as Konosuke Matsushita, Soichiro Honda and Akio Morita. They were so interesting but among them, I was so touched by words by Mr. Konosuke Matsushita who founded Panasonic. Mr. Matsushita mentioned three things for his success in making a world wide known company when he was asked about a secret of success. He pointed out three things; He made a success, because
1, He was poor, 2. He didn't go to school, 3. He was physically weak and sickly.
These are all negative factors of the life and he experienced all and hardship starting from his first job when he was 9, separating from his mother. However, he understood these negative experiences as positive ones. Because he was poor, he wished to be wealthy. Because he didn't go to school, he read many books. Because he was sick, he was able to ask people for help naturally. As a result of asking his men to do, many of them became responsible men which made a stronger company.
Of course, "luck" in his life, was very important and he said people cannot do anything about luck. And he believe in "luck." Indeed, he experienced his father's bankruptcy, a great depression, and world wars. Nevertheless, he believed he was always lucky. That's, I understand, a very secret of his success.
After thinking about his secrets of success, I thought of plantation workers and their descendants who could be you in Hawaii. Many of them were poor and didn't go to school. However, just like Mr. Matsushita overcame the hardship, many people got "success" thanks to the hard experiences.
In a sense, we living in Hawaii, are all successful people, because of the fact living in the place where many people in the world are dreaming to live!!! Though I'm not monetary rich, but I can definitely call myself a successful man who 've lived in the paradise for 16 years!