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‘Wagen Aigo’ – Gentle in Countenance and Loving in Speech

While driving, I am often caught in a traffic jam. One of main causes of traffic jams is car accidents. No one wants to cause an accident, but it is possible for everyone to have it. Nowadays, cars have a lot of functions to avoid causing accidents. But I should not rely on them too much. I always have to be careful when driving.


I have never had a serious car accident yet, but I have had close calls when driving a car any number of times. There are various causes to be exposed to danger. One of them is driving in a hurry.


I drive my son to a school every morning. It takes about 20 minutes to get there. We are often rushing around before we leave in the morning. When we were running behind at one time, I drove faster than usual. I only paid attention in front of my car, and lost attention to the side and back of my car. I did not realize a car was next to me when I attempted to change lanes. I sometimes do not realize a car in front of me has braked. These were scary moments. My view became narrow when I was pressed for time. My mind became too busy to get to the destination on time. I had not enough room in my mind to look around. It puts me in a dangerous situation.


While driving, I also see other drivers who are driving in a hurry and cut in front of me. How would you do if it happened to you? Instead of getting upset, I try to remember to make a smiling face in my heart and say “Please go ahead” in my mind. Someone in the car may want to go to bathroom very quickly. They may be rushing to go to a hospital to visit their family member who has a serious illness. I should not bother them. I just let them go first. Of course, I am just using my own imagination. But if I was about to think so, I would feel I am helping others. I could make more room in my mind to consider others. I could have the wider view to be more careful to look around. It makes me relaxed while driving.


It is also important to have time to spare. In the morning, I try to wake up five minutes early and leave five minutes early. Then I do not have to drive in a hurry. Instead, I can enjoy driving.


Let me share another experience. One day, I attended a Buddhist minister’s meeting in Nagasaki, Japan. The dinner party was scheduled at a Chinese restaurant after that. The meeting took longer than we expected. The schedule was running behind. It seemed that there was not enough time to get to the restaurant. At the end of the meeting, a chairperson made a closing remark with his gentle expression in countenance,


“Thank you for attending today’s meeting. The dinner is scheduled afterward. Because of the behind schedule, please move to the restaurant immediately. We can still have the dinner on time if everyone moves there without delay. Now I would like to ask you one question. What makes people being annoyed most in this situation? It is for a person to (waste time) and get to the restaurant late. But please remember, if you drive in a hurry to get there on time and you cause an accident, we cannot fully enjoy the party. We may need to cancel the party. It causes the worst trouble to everyone. So, please remember safety first and move to the restaurant swiftly.”


I was one of the individuals who was in a hurry to get there. He must have understood how I was thinking when he gave his closing remark. While I was looking at his gentle expression and listening to his thoughtful words, I was able to calm down my mind and safely move to the restaurant on time.


It tells us about the Boddhisattva Dharmakara’s practice in the Larger Sutra. One of the practices is “Gentle in countenance and loving in speech, he perceived people’s intentions and was attentive to them. (wagen aigo, senni jomon和顔愛語 先意承問).”


The Bodhisattva fulfilled this practice, attained enlightenment, and became Amida Buddha. Amida Buddha is the master of “wagen aigo — Gentle in countenance and loving in speech” and has always been practicing it anywhere. How about you? Are you practicing “wagen aigo” in your daily life?


When I could do it, my heart becomes warm and peaceful. But I am an ordinary being (bonbu). I cannot always successfully do this practice. Even so, it is still meaningful to me if I was able to realize that I could not do it. It becomes my opportunity to learn.


It is important to keep this teaching in our mind and reflect upon how we live our life. You can find people’s deeds based on “wagen aigo” in your daily life. Please look for them. We can also try saying “wagen aigo” in our mind while driving. There are so many ways to practice “wagen aigo” in our daily life. Please try it.


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