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Dharma Talk – September 2021

Isshiji “state of regarding each being as one’s only child.”

When a person realizes the mind of nondiscrimination,
That attainment is the “state of regarding each being as one’s only child.” This is none other than Buddha-nature;
We will awaken to it on reaching the land of peace.

The above is from Wasan, which was written by Shinran-Shonin. He said Bodhisattva’s benevolence treats all sentient beings equally. The benevolence is called mind of nondiscrimination or state of regarding each be- ing as one’s only child. And the mind of nondiscrimination is the same as Buddha-nature. Therefore, Amida-Buddha al- ways looks at us as the Buddha’s only child. And when we are born in the Pure Land, we will have the same mind as Buddha, which is the mind of nondiscrimination. If you have 2 children, you must give your love 100% to each of them, not 50/50. In this way, you love each child like an only child. And I believe you must receive a lot of love and affection from your parents 100% even if you have many siblings.

Today I would like to explain this Wasan with my experience. Last year, I received a Dharma Talk from my friend who is a Buddhist minister in Japan. When I read his Dharma Talk, he used a poem from Mrs. Kaneko Misuzu. She passed away when she was only 26 years old, but she wrote over 500 poems. Moreover, she was a Jodo Shinshu Bud- dhist member in Japan. Today I would like to introduce you to the poem by Kaneko Misuzu. The title is

When I feel lonely.”
When I feel lonely, strangers do not notice. When I feel lonely, my friends laugh.
When I feel lonely, my mother is kind.
When I feel lonely, Amida-Buddha feels lonely.

This poem is only 4 sentences, but it moves me deeply. When we feel suffering, people around us continue to do their normal things. It’s easy to feel alone, but we must remember that Buddha is always with us.

I will give you an example. When I was 10 years old, I got bullied by my friends at school. I lost my backpack many times because my “friends” moved it outside. Every time I had to pick up my bag covered in dust. As I did, I could see my friends grinning at me. I cannot shake the memory and feeling of loneliness or misery even though it happened such a long time ago for me. When I went back home, my mother usually asked me “how was school?” I could not say anything about my situation at that time, and so would always answer, “I enjoyed it”. Then she always just said, “It is good if you enjoyed it.” But I think she must have realized that I was been bullied at school, because my backpack was always covered in dust. Therefore, a couple of days later, she said to me “if you are having any trouble, you can tell me anything and anytime.”

She knew I didn’t want to talk about my situation with her, because I was very headstrong when I was 10 years old. She just waited for the day that I would tell her. Now that I think about it, I received her affection a lot because she never pushed me to talk about that situation. However, I did not appreciate her kindness, and one day I said very bad words to her. My grandmother was there when I said that. She pulled me by the hand to the temple’s main hall because we lived in a temple, and we sat in front of Amida Buddha’s statue. I thought she would scold me severely, but she just looked at Amida Buddha’s statue for a long time. After around 30 minutes when I had calmed down, she placed her hands together and recited Nembutsu “Naman Dabutsu” so slowly and so peacefully. Then I also said Nembutsu with her. After we recited Nembutsu together, she held my hand and told me that when we felt lonely, Amida Buddha also felt lonely with us. Buddha never said we have to overcome our difficulties, because Buddha accepted us just as we were.

Therefore, we could rely on Amida Buddha’s compassion. She also said “You are also Amida Buddha’s child. When you feel sad, please say “Namo Amida Butsu”. After that, I confessed to her about getting bullied at school and she just held my hands again. I cannot forget these bad memories of bullying, but at the same time the bad memory reminds me of my grandmother’s warm hands, and her warm hands remind me of Amida Buddha’s feeling. When I talked about my situation to my mother, she said to me that Amida Buddha gives us Amida’s benevolence to each being as one’s only child. Therefore, Amida-Buddha always looks at us as the Buddha’s only child. Amida Buddha’s light of compassion always shines on to us and Amida is always with us.

When we reflect on ourselves, we realize our self-centred egos. Therefore Amida Buddha’s wisdom helps us to go Buddha’s way. Then when we encounter Amida’s great compassion in that way, it lets us know we are living with Buddha. I think when you put your hands together, you are already able to think of your loved one’s warm heart and Amida Buddha’s compassion.

In Gassho
Rev. Yoshimichi Ouchi