I hope this message finds you well. We finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and some temples will reopen in September.
It is wonderful that Shin Sangha meet and attend in-person service at our temples. During the past one and a half years, we faced many adjustments.
One challenge was to stay connected with our Sangha with virtually delivering the Sunday services and Zoom study sessions, officiating funeral and memorial services, and attending various committee meetings.
I think that all BCA ministers and Minister’s Assistants have been doing a remarkable job to tirelessly deliver the Buddha-Dharma in English and Japanese, not only with their Sangha members, but beyond the state, and even overseas in English and Japanese.
One morning when I woke up early, the sunshine came through a window blind in my dark bedroom. It came from light years away and shone through my bedroom window without any hindrance. So is the light of Amida Buddha.
The Amida’s light is invisible, nothing hinders it reaching the lives of all sentient beings. Shinran Shonin says in the preface of “Kyōgyōshinshō”: “The universal Vow, difficult to fathom, is indeed a great vessel bearing us across the ocean difficult to across. The unhindered light is the sun of wisdom dispersing the darkness of our ignorance.” (CWS I, p.3)
During the pandemic situation, many worked at home, wore a mask, and kept a physical distance wherever we went. We missed human interactions. However, we placed our palms together and recited the Name, Namo Amida Butsu, and appreciated the unhindered light reaching us. Hearing the Buddha’s calling voice and responding to it naturally calms us down and gives us peace and resilience.
Shinran Shonin valued the Amida’s Unhindered Light most among the 12 qualities of light mentioned in “The Virtue of the Name of Amida Tathagata.” Your obutsudan may have the three scrolls manifesting Amida Tathagata.
The middle could be the pictorial Amida with 48 light beams of vows or the six-charter Name, Namo Amida Butsu (南無阿弥陀仏). The right scroll (facing obutsudan) shows “Take refuge in the Tathagata of Unhindered Light Filling the Ten Quarters (帰命尽十方無碍光如来 Kimyo-jinjippo-mugeko-nyorai).”
The left scroll shows “Take Refuge in the Tathagata of Inconceivable Light (南無不可思議光如来 Namo-fukashigiko-nyorai).” The Name of Kimyo-jinjippo-mugeko-nyorai is called the 10-character Name, originated from Bodhisattva Vasubandhu’s “Treatise on the Pure Land.”
The other, Namo-fukashigiko-nyorai, is the nine-character Name stated in “Gathas in Praise of Amida Buddha” by Master T’an-luan.
Shinran tells us that the Name of Tathagata of Unhindered Light dispels all the ignorance of sentient beings and fulfills all their aspirations, therefore saying the Name is the right act, supreme, and excellent.
The right act is the Nembutsu. The Nembutsu is Namo-Amida-Butsu. Namo-Amida-Butsu is rightmindedness. (CWS I, p.17-18)
Amida’s Light comes from the depth of life itself, and grasps us and transforms us, and enables us to awaken to ultimate reality.
In living in the Amida’s Unhindered Light, we live each moment fully and dynamically in deep gratitude and reflection to see how we live our everyday life.
This always makes me remember whenever I chant the verse of “Shoshinge”: 摂取心光常照護 (se-sshu-shin-ko-jo-sho-go) 已能雖破無明闇 (i-no-sui-ha-mu myo-an) 貪愛瞋憎之雲霧 (ton-nai-shin-zo-shi-un-mu) 常覆真実信心天 (jo-fu-shin-jitsu-shin-jin ten) 譬如日光覆雲霧 (hi-nyo-ni-kko-fu-un-mu) 雲霧之下明無闇 (un-mu-shi-ge-myo-mu-an), saying there is brightness of Unhindered Light even under the darkness of the clouds of our greed, anger, and ignorance beyond time and space.
Namo Amida Butsu