At Senshin, I see several animals. I like animals, so I feel a sense of peacefulness whenever I see them.
Temple members bring their dogs, and one dog barks at everyone without any discrimination (it can represent Amida Buddha’s non-discriminating mind). Stray cats or the neighborhood cats take a walk and nap in the courtyard. Also, I enjoy watching a squirrel.
The squirrel living on the Senshin grounds is named “Seemore.” The spelling is not “Seymour.”
The squirrel was named by the children who attended the temple summer program “Saishin Dojo” over 10 years ago. The children enjoyed watching the squirrel during their break time, and when the chime rang to tell the students to go back to class, the children cried, “We want to see more!” Since then, the squirrel is called “Seemore.”
When you want to see the Buddha, you need to listen more. Shinran Shonin suggested that we could see the Buddha through listening and hearing the teaching. Listening to the teaching is equivalent to seeing the Buddha. He meant knowing the essence of the Buddha is more important than just to see the image of the Buddha.
In “Kyogyoshinsho,” he quoted a statement from the Nirvana sutra:
“There are two kinds of seeing; seeing through the eyes and seeing through hearing.”
— CWS, P. 189
His intention in quoting this statement was that he wanted to focus on seeing through hearing. It mentions that while Buddha or the high ranked bodhisattvas can see Buddha nature (or Buddhas themselves) with the naked eyes, ordinary beings are incapable of seeing the Buddha. But they can see the Buddha through hearing.
Since we are full of Bonno, the passions from ego, Amida Buddha chose the way to reach us by becoming the form of words. In this way, we can perceive the Buddha and his compassion without seeing the Buddha through our eyes.
Shinran Shonin stated in “Shoshinge”:
“Although I, too, am within Amida’s grasp, passions obstruct my eyes and I cannot see the light. Nevertheless, great compassion is untiring and illumines me always.”
— CWS, P. 73
Due to our Bonno, we cannot see Amida Buddha and his light through our naked eyes. But by listening to the teaching, we can know that Buddha’s compassion is always working on us for our sake. Although we cannot see Amida Buddha through our naked eyes, we can see Amida Buddha by listening to the teaching.
We are planning to reopen Saishin Dojo this year. I hope the students can see Seemore at the temple and they listen more to the Nembutsu teaching to see Amida Buddha.