Adventures : Japan Tales (17)

Now, Life is Living You? 

When you walk by Higashi Honganji, you will see a huge billboard with these words on it – “Now, Life is living you.” When you enter the temple’s reception centre and bookshop, you can get a flyer which explains these words. The slogan is the theme for the 750th memorial of the Jodo Shinshu’s (“True Pure Land tradition”) founder teacher Shinran Shionin – for the year 2011. Most Buddhists in Japan are Shin Buddhists, just as most Chinese Buddhists are Pure Land Buddhists – in part, if not generally or on the whole. The somewhat cryptic sentence is elaborated as follows, as excerpted from the flyer, written by Akinori Imai –

“… your life and my life are part of one Life. All arise by conditions. The differences between you and me are just [different] conditions that are shaping you as you are and me as I am… Moreover, ‘I’ cannot create my ‘Life.’ ‘Life’ is constantly, continuously, and pervasively in the infinite universe. As conditions emerge, ‘Life’ works as one’s body, mind and spirit… At this moment right now, ‘Life’ is living you! Can you hear this calling? When this calling reaches to you, you can live your life as you are, regardless if life is going along with your wish or not – happy or sad. Nembutsu [Nianfo] – saying Namu Amida Butsu [‘Namo Amituofo’ in Chinese] vocally [or mentally] – is the constant reminder of this calling. Nembutsu roughly means ‘I entrust myself to the awakening of the immeaurable Life.'”

Note that “life” without a capital L refers to ordinary life, while ‘”Life’ refers to that the spiritual life that one awakens to. The flyer’s text might seem a little abstract for some, but Pure Land practitioners who have great faith and understanding of Amitabha Buddha’s (Amituofo) teachings can easily appreciate it. The text might read a little romanticist in feel, but it rather accurately describes how Pure Landers feel – when their Bodhicitta mind interconnects them to all other beings as one “body” through compassion. Ultimate Pure Landers strive to emulate the boundless compassion of Amituofo too, to let the Life of his Bodhicitta and their own to live through themselves. They know beyond the shadow of a doubt that no matter whatever negative happens to them, it is inconsequential – because they will realise immeasurable Life, through which they will awaken themselves and others in time.

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