I introduced the Japanese song “Donna Iro Ga Suki” (“What Color Do You Like?”) to the Dharma School kids in a class. The class was online, so I couldn’t see their reactions through my speaker view. But I was sure that they were thinking about their favorite colors after listening to this song.
After the lyrics asking your favorite color, the following colors are mentioned: red, blue, yellow, and green. If you have someone next to you while reading my article, please try to pick your favorite color together at the same time. Three, two, one! Now pick a color! Did you choose the same color or different color? If you chose the same color, it might mean you have similar tastes.
Each of us has a color that characterizes our personality or can be considered our personal color. Based on your taste, your color emerges when you think about buying things such as a new smart phone case or new clothes. You may wonder which color you would choose. Days later, you might find out that your friend picked the same color smart phone case or piece of clothing. Realizing this might make you and your friend smile.
I recall a moment when I worked at a kindergarten. We had a craft class where we did origami (Japanese folding paper craft). Based on their favorite color, the kids picked a sheet of colored paper from a colorful pile. Sometimes, among friends, there was a quarrel for the sheet of a particular color. Today, that feels like such a long time ago.
I have my own particular taste or “color,” but recently, it doesn’t seem to overlap or coincide with someone. Yet, this seems normal in this country where I and many people of other races reside. Everyone has their own taste in food, drink, music, language, and fashion. I understand diversity is the source of many possibilities, and I am often excited about encountering something new. However, sometimes I find myself seeking someone to share something in common and enjoy it together.
Today, social media is a popular tool, which enables us to post what we want to share with people over other borders. I look at things being posted on SNS like a “message in a bottle” floating on the ocean hoping to be found by someone in order to let somebody know “I am here.” I believe that when we share something on SNS (social networking sites), we do so not to isolate ourselves from others. Rather it is an expression or desire to maintain our identity. But in doing so, to find a connection to others in the world is not easy. Yet, how joyful it is when you and I can share something we both like.
Master Shinran mentions birth into the Pure Land quoting a sentence from Tanluan, saying “for they (beings) are the same in practicing the Nembutsu and follow no other way.” I found a similar message in the lyrics of the song, “Minna Hana Ni Nare” (“Everyone Becomes a Flower”), which was composed as a memorial song for the upcoming joint celebration of the 850th anniversary of Shinran Shonin’s Birth and 800th anniversary of the establishment of the Jodo Shinshu teaching. The lyrics begin with “When you smile, you become a flower. Also, I become a flower when I see your smile.”
I think “a flower” represents happiness. What makes you happy makes me happy as well. Not only do I receive happiness, but I become happiness itself. Our path to happiness sounds similar to that of those who recite the Nembutsu for they are eventually born in the Pure Land. Based on the Mahayana philosophy, your friend aligns next to you (we are one in the Dharma). Amida Buddha opened the Dharma storage house and presented the Nembutsu for the sake of all beings’ smiles, not just my smile.