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Nembutsu, the True and Real Teaching


The greatest tragedy in the modern age is the intensification of confrontations and conflicts. Economic confrontations between nations rooted in nationalistic desires for natural resources are getting more and more intense every year. Also, ideological confrontations between nations pose a major threat to world peace. Furthermore, racial as well as religious confrontations are getting more and more serious. The Mahayana teaching of 'non-ego,' 'emptiness' and 'dependant origination' are based on the realization that in the absolute reality there is no such dualities and confrontations. The Nembutsu stands on the same Mahayana principle. In the Nembutsu there are no such confrontations as enemy and friend, men and women, rich and poor, good and evil, and even Amida and myself. Before I begin this month's article, may I express my feelings of condolence to all those who were affected by the terrible acts of terrorism that occurred in the States on September 11th, 2001. As I was looking up some information recently, I came across an article from which the above passage was taken. The article caught my attention because it was written by my maternal grandfather. Although my grandfather passed away twelve years ago, I couldn't help but think how profound and appropriate this passage is in light of the terrorist bombings that occurred on September 11th, 2001. September 11th, 2001 will be forever etched in our collective memories as the day of the worst act of terrorism in history. Since then, we have heard many stories of both personal tragedy and heroism. As well, we have all been attentive to the daily news as leaders from around the world have reacted to the events of that day. Above all, the acts of September 11th have forced us to reflect within ourselves to reprioritize what is truly important in life. For myself, this has meant turning to the teachings of the Buddha for guidance. When we reflect on the recent events from a Buddhistic viewpoint, we see that it is not as simple as right and wrong, and good and evil. In Buddhism, we often refer to the cause and effect of all phenomenal occurrences. What was the cause for the terrorist actions? Are we truly innocent, or did we play a role in the escalation of violence? I believe it is a little of both. We are innocent in that we did not directly commit the atrocious acts of September 11th. However, perhaps we played our part in the escalation of hatred. The world we live in is a world of those who have and those who don't. Those of us fortunate enough to live in North America are part of the top 10% of the world in living standards. To maintain such standards, do we not take advantage of the cheap labor available in third world countries on the other side of the earth? Of course by no means does this justify terrorist actions, but we can see how envy and hate can be born from a world of such imbalances. This is why the Buddha called this world the realm of Saha, or Suffering. When we see the whole picture of cause and circumstance, we can begin to understand that although we may not have been in New York or Washington that we are all responsible in part to the tragic events on September 11th, 2001.

2 Understanding our part in the events that occurred is the first step to taking actions to make sure it never happens again. One of the most fundamental teachings in all world religions is not to take life. In our Shin Buddhist Pledge it is stated that "I will follow the Teaching of the Dharma: discerning the Right Path, I will spread the True Dharma." The challenge is up to each one of us, how do we find justice while maintaining peace? In these times of uncertainty, let us not get swayed by our emotions, we must strive to find the path of non-violence. This is the only path for the future of humanity. Gassho,

Grant Ikuta