How rare and precious our life is.
In order to explain it, Shakyamuni Buddha once used a metaphor, known as "Blind Turtle & Floating Log."
Buddha told Ananda,
" Suppose there is a blind turtle who lives in the bottom of the vast ocean. This turtle has a long life. It comes up to the surface of the sea only once in 100 years."
"Then suppose, there happen to be a log floating in the huge ocean. This log has a hole in the center. The size of hole is as small as a neck of the turtle."
Buddha asked Ananda, "Do you think this blind turtle can get to the hole of the floating log in the vast ocean? Turtle's head should be just in the hole of the floating log"
"It's impossible! It cannot happen, my master!" , replied Ananda.
Then Buddha said, "To be born as a human being is actually much more difficult than the possibility of the blind turtle going inside the hole of the floating log. Life is such a precious."
When I learned this metaphor so many years ago, I honestly thought what an exaggeration! I knew how hard to be born as a human, but I thought it was not so impossible. The turtle is blind. It only comes up to the ocean once in 100 years. Very rare chance. Then the possibility of floating log which has a hole seemed to be very very rare. Just like Ananda, I also thought "It is impossible!"
But as I get to know more and more about the mystery of the universe which was considered to be born about 13,700,000,000 years ago, I knew the possibility of the earth was born such a miracle thing. So was true to the birth of life in this planet. The more I study science, the more I get to know just nothing but mystery!
Now I think the metaphor of the blind turtle seem to be very reasonable. Yes, it is almost impossible. But it happened. I also happened to get "life."
On this special day of March 11, I cannot help but appreciate life, a miracle life. I am so grateful and happy for living here today.
Because I happen to be a very happy rignt now, I feel strongly it's my mission to help others to be happy.
Aloha and have a good day!
March 11, 2015.
Yesterday was another special day for me not because of Super Bowl but thanks to visitors.
It happened last evening. When I was at Poipu shore, I received a phone call from my wife.
" We have a visitor from China. Come back to the temple ASAP!"
To be honest with you, I was actually not happy to hear that.
In the morning, I had a Service. After the service, I made Sushi. In the afternoon, I visited old members with Sushi and "Hawaii Buddhism" which was recently published. Then I had some shopping at Lihue for our temple's New Year's Party.
I thought I did enough today for the temple and I tried to call it a day.
I left for Poipu for my own hobby as soon as I came back here from Lihue around 5:00 p.m.
Then I received a phone call from my wife..."Come back ASAP...in 5 minutes!" I was about to take a picture of humpback whale which I had been waiting for at least a week!
So I told her "It's supposed to be Pau Hana! My fun has just begun." *Pau Hana in Hawaiian means "after work."
But she insisted a minister should be back here to meet and welcome them." She reminded me importance of meeting new people. The answer became very clear when she asked me"which is important, whale or visitor?"
As soon as I met a visiting family from China, I knew her judgment was true. They looked happy to hear me say, "Welcome , Ni Hao and Namo Āmítuó Fó. " Soon after I knew they are Buddhists who believe in Amida Buddha.
They prostrated themselves in front of the Buddha and recited " Namo Āmítuó Fó" for a while. And I recited "Namu Amida Bu" together.
Later I explained that we greatly respect two Pure Land masters, one Chinese and one Japanese, who are Master Shan tao (Zendo in Japanese) and Master Honen. Because my pronunciation of "Shan tao" was not good, they couldn't get it. But when I wrote "善導" on the whiteboard, instantly they got it and told me "善導" as "Shan dao."
While chanting Nenbutsu together, I really appreciated wonderful moments, realizing Amida Buddha is universal.
I am from Japan and they are from China, but in front of Amida Buddha, we are just one of human beings. The Nenbutsu gave me the sense of brotherhood. I felt very close to them. In addition, I realized that we are going to the same destination which is Pure Land called "Jodo" in Japanese.
Currently, the relationship between China and Japan is not good, rather dangerous. However, I saw the light and hope in the future through our experiences of chanting Nenbutsu together.
Every morning around 5:00 a.m., I usually receive an email from our Hawaii Council of Jodo Missions President Mr. Mark Nakamura. His email starts with “Hi Gangs...” and ends with “Aloha and have another Fun Day!” I think some of you are familiar with his emails because he sends them to many of us. Actually, his daily emails are very interesting, just like my sermons (just kidding). He shares funny YouTube videos and some pretty amazing videos. He also sends beautiful photos as well as informative educational information.
What I’d like to introduce at this time is one of the many links of amazing videos he has sent me. The title of the video is called “The Power of Words”. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzgzim5m7oU ) It was a short, but an inspiring message which emphases on the possibility that words can change the world.
The story starts with a blind man sitting beside the road. He has a sign saying, “I’m blind. Please help”. There were very few people who stopped to give him offerings. One day, a young lady was passing by the man and noticed his sign. She retraced her steps, going back to him. She wrote something on the sign. The blind man felt “something” and tried to remember that person by touching the shoes.
After that, a change happened. Many people started to leave offering to him after seeing the sign. More offerings came to him. And again, the lady appeared in front of him.
He recognized her by touching her shoes. He asked the lady, “ What did you do to my sign?” The lady replied, “I wrote the same, but different words”. What was it she had written?
What wrote, “It’s a beautiful day and I cannot see it”. The message ends with a powerful phrases, “Change your words. Change your world.”
Now I’m looking for the magic words that could attract more people to the Temple. What words can they be, I wonder? I will continue to think of the words, and at the same time I will welcome and appreciate your ideas to make our temple better.
Kosen Ishikawa, Koloa Jodo Mission