This is one of the verses from “Juseige,” which means “Gatha of the
Dharmakara Bodhisattva established the 48 vows, and he repeated
the summarization of the 48 vows in the “Juseige.” The verse tells
us that the essence of the 48 vows is Great Compassion.
Dharmakara Bodhisattva, or Amida Buddha, becomes the great
benefactor and saves all unenlightened beings. Thanks to the Vow
Power, we are able to be born in the Pure Land and become the
Buddha. Also, those who receive such Vow Power can be nurtured
to give benefit to others. It is like when we receive a gift from others,
we learn to share with others.
By the way, many BCA temples hold the “Oseibo” service in
December. The Japanese word “Oseibo” literally means “the end of
the year.” “O” is an honorific prefix, “sei” means year, and “bo”
means the end; however, in Japanese, the word “Oseibo” indicates
“year-end gift.” In Japanese tradition, people send gifts to people to
whom they feel grateful in order to express their gratitude during the
year. They usually send gifts to their parents, grandparents, bosses,
business partners, customers, and teachers. So “Oseibo” is in some
way close to the concept of Thanksgiving and Christmas in the
United States. People give gifts to show their appreciation to others
for their support, guidance, and kindness.
December is a good time to give, whether it is for Christmas, Oseibo
or for a tax deduction.
If we give, we will be happy. We will have some freedom. It is said
that when we send a gift, a so-called “happy hormone” is produced
in our brain and we feel peaceful and less stressed.
This is the reason a lot of Americans look happy in December. Not
only the people who receive the gifts look happy, but people who
give gifts also get the feeling of well-being.
We think that the more we have, the more freedom and happiness
we have. If we have more than others, we feel superior to others.
But Buddhism thinks differently. By owning, we are bound by them
and lose freedom. It is true. Many of us are bound by a mortgage,
car loan, maintenance fees, and problems of ownership.
In Shakyamuni Buddha’s order, monks and nuns only own their
robes and a bowl for alms. Their lifestyle is to have the minimum so
that they can get maximum freedom. In Buddhism, the less you
have, the more you will be respected.
However, it is difficult for laypeople to have the minimum like monks
and nuns, so Shakyamuni Buddha also taught a way for lay
followers to live with less attachments. It is giving. Giving brings us
freedom and happiness. By giving, we are free from the bondage of
our possessions. Giving is sharing too. Sharing connects us and the
feeling of connection brings us peacefulness.
Giving to the temple is sometimes called “Kisha” which means enjoy
throwing. “Ki” means joy, happiness, and “sha” means throw away. If
we have less, we are happier and free, so we can give with joy.
Toward the end of the year, we have many opportunities to practice
“Kisha” at the temple and gift-giving to other people. Let us try it and
see if we can be happy by giving.