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True Wisdom Transforms Our Evil Into Virtue

It is almost the end of the year 2021. Our lives changed drastically last year and we are gradually adjusting ourselves to the new normal.

But I really hope that we are able to go back to the temple without any worries and listen to the teachings together and share laughter. Especially, in regards to guest speaking, it is really convenient that we are able to hold services online and ask ministers to guest speak, but I hope this will not become our “new normal” since I love traveling and seeing other places!

This year marked my 10th year as a Kaikyoshi minister and my 25th year as Jodo Shinshu minister. I cannot believe that it has been that long, but Okagesamade, because of the support of many lives, I have been able to be here.

I feel like my children Aoi and Hikaru were just born, but now they are 9 and 5 years old. I am really starting to understand the expression “Time flies!” In less than five years, my daughter will be a teenager and I cannot believe how time quickly passes by.

Anyway, since the pandemic, I am streaming services every morning and working on some English translations from Japanese writings regarding Jodo Shinshu teachings.

This is my quick translation from the writing by the late Rev. Jitsuen Kakehashi (1927-2014), “Shinran Shonin no Oshie Mondo-shu” (“The Teaching of Shinran Shonin: Questions and Answers”) from “Daihorinkaku publications,” pages 230-231, 2011.

It is not an official translation and a really rough translation, so some parts might not make sense or may be difficult to understand. I just wanted to share these words of Kakehashi Sensei since this illustrates the important teaching of Jodo Shinshu.

Q. Shinran Shonin wrote in the preface of “KyoGyoShinSho” as “True Wisdom transforms our evil into virtue.” How specifically does evil transform into virtue?

A. Ultimately, one is able to become a Buddha to save a multitude of beings. However, we continue to be ordinary beings full of blind passions as long as we live in this world of delusion. But, when one begins to entrust themselves to the Primal Vow of Amida Tathagata and say the Nembutsu, one’s mind experiences a big change. That is to realize the false self, who is like a mass of blind passion, and serving the blind passion as if it is the master of mind.

Also, one, (who encounters the Vow), realizes that the Nembutsu, which is the manifestation of Tathagata, as the true master and opens their mind up to receive the Nembutsu as true and real. One begins to aspire to continue the journey to the Pure Land, guided by the teaching of Tathagata thinking as “Make Nembutsu as the master of mind, and blind passion as the guest of mind.” So, one experiences the transformation of the sense of values deep inside the self.

We are ordinary beings full of blind passions, but how we live this life will be changed from when we were thinking as it is natural for the blind passions to arise, to feel shame to the blind passions to arise. That is to say, the practitioner of shinjin gives rise to the shame/self-reproach and the deep appreciation to Amida Tathagata’s great compassion. The true sense of ethics will be nurtured by and blessed with the mind to admire the truth and the shrewd sense towards evil (rejection to the blind passion). This is already pointed out by both Honen, and Shinran Shonin.

I really feel that realizing the risk of blind passions or not realizing it makes a big difference in our daily lives.

Amida Buddha’s calling to grasp and never abandon us because of my nature of attaching to the blind passions makes me self-reflect my daily conduct and gives rise to the appreciation for Buddha’s great benevolence. My article was mostly the words of Kakehashi Sensei, but I hope the translation was helpful.



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