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Dharma Talk – May 2021

Shorihouju & Gimyoshicho

The notes of C&D and a Two-headed bird
清風宝樹をふくときは “Pure winds blow in the jewel trees, いつつの音声いだしつつProducing the five tones for the scales.宮商和して自然なりAs those sounds are harmonious and spontaneous, 清浄勲を礼すべし Pay homage to Amida, the one imbued with purity.” Shinran Shonin’s wasan poem

This Wasan explains to us the Amida Buddha’s Pure Land. There are jewel trees in the Pure Land. When a wind blows, the jewels make or offer very beautiful sound for Amida Buddha. This wasan is very interesting because Shinran Shonin wrote “宮商和して自然なり(Kyu Sho Washite Jinennari). “Kyu” means the sound or note of “C”, and Sho means the sound or note of “D”. When we hear the sounds of C & D together, we feel uncomfortable. We call it dissonance. However, he said “自然なりJinennari”, that means the dissonance sound becomes beautiful and comfortable sound in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land because every single sound is respecting each other in the Pure Land.

When we hold a monthly memorial service in the temple we always chant Amidakyo Sutra. The Sutra also explains about Amida Buddha’s Pure Land. The Sutra says there are six birds in the Pure Land. When you see the Maejoku table on the Naijin in the temple, you can find the six birds’ image pictures. These birds are living in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land. Each bird has a very interesting story. I would like to introduce you to one of the birds.

This bird is called Gumyo Shicho. The bird has two heads. The two heads had argued with each other every time before they were born in the Pure Land because they always had different opinions.

Let’s call the right head “Red,” and call the left head “Blue.” When Red said, “let’s go right side”, Blue said, “No. I wanna go left side.” When Blue said, “let’s fly”, Red said, “I’m tired, I don’t wanna fly.” As described, they always had a different opinion and argued and hated each other. If they had separate bodies, they might not fight. But it was impossible. One day, Red decided to give poisoned food and kill Blue. Blue ate the poison food and died, and of course Red died too because they shared a body. When they were dying, they realized their life was one. They were living together all the time.

Even though Red killed Blue, both of them were born in the Pure Land. Because they regretted doing that they had not respected each other, they learned that they must have helped and respected each other. They decided even if they were asked to have separate bodies in their next life, they declined that suggestion, because both agreed to help and respect each other.

These stories from Shinran Shonin’s Wasan (Difference between notes of C and D) and Amida Sutra (two- headed bird’s story) have a common idea. Even though they are not the same, they respect each other and make beautiful harmony or good relationship in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land.

When I was studying that wasan and Amida Sutra, I thought that the jewel-trees represented our background, and the two- headed bird represented our opinions. The jewel-trees harmonize with different sounds in the Pure Land. Based on that idea lets focus this world. If someone has a different background, we tend to categorize and make a group to against each other. If we don’t judge each other and if we accept the differences, I believe this world would be better than now.

From the two headed bird’s story, they always had a different opinion, and they argued with each other. In this world, we do the same things. If someone has different opinions, we tend to ignore or deny them. That makes fight and bad relationship. But again, if we can accept the differences and respect , I believe this world would be better than now.

I would like to introduce one more sentence from Amida Sutra. The Sutra says “CHI CHU REN GE DAI NY O SHA RIN SHO SHIKI SHO KO O SHIKI O KO SHAKU SHIKI SHAK-KO BYAKU SHIKI BYAK-KO MI MYO KO KETSU.” That means There are lotus flowers, as large as chariot wheels, growing in the Amida Buddha’s Pure Land. Those of blue color emit blue radiance; those of yellow color emit yellow radiance; those of red color emit red radiance and those of white color emit white radiance. They are exquisite, wonderful, fragrant and pure.

Every lotus flower blooms with its own colors. If the lotus flowers were us human, the color meant our personality or each character. In this world, it is difficult to show own colors to others. We dress up our personality when we meet others to show them we are good people. However, we don’t have to act or dress ourselves up in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land, we can bloom our own colour in the Pure Land. Therefore, we do never mind how others look at us and we also don’t judge other’s colours in the Pure Land. We fully respect the differences, because Amida Buddha accepts us just as we are.
When we chant Shinran Shonin’s Wasan or Buddhist Sutras, we show gratitude to the Buddha, because we can learn so many things from them.

In Gassho
Rev. Yoshimichi Ouchi