by Rev. Miki Nakura

Last August I came from Osaka, Japan as a Buddhist minister and I am now serving mainly at Higashi Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii. I am not from a temple family and before becoming a minister I was an office worker in a bank and other companies for twenty years. During that time, I continued to listen to the Buddhist teachings in various temples and read many books on Buddhism. Why? Because I had a very precious and wonderful encounter with the Buddha when I was a university student at which time my father suddenly died of cancer.

At that time, I met an elderly lady, Tatsuko Kato, and this was my precious encounter with the Buddha. She had a brilliant light about her with a great deal of compassion and humor. In addition, I felt she had a strong spirit enabling her to withstand any severe circumstances, no matter how unfortunate. There and then, I deeply wondered why she had such a compassionate and strong spirit. Gradually, I discovered that she was a very earnest and sincere Buddhist seeker.

From her youth, she had been listening to the Buddhist teachings, especially Shinran Shonin’s message, in order to encounter true happiness in this world. I was greatly inspired by her attitude toward life, and so I also naturally started listening to the Buddhist teachings. How fortunate I was and still am!! She often said to me that even if she were very busy in worldly affairs, her first priority would be to visit the temple to listen to the Buddhist teachings.

There are many precious words of hers that I still remember. For example, she would say to me that Buddhism was meant for us to look deep inside ourselves so that we might be able to see how selfish and egotistical we were.

At another time, she would say that if we really could have a grateful mind even when our good circumstances at present entirely began to fall apart, we might say you truly understood Buddhism. By having such a wonderful influence like her on me, I have naturally sought true happiness ever since.

‘Buddha’ means a person who has truly awakened to the universal truth.

In other words, one who can accept and transcend any kind of suffering, difficulties and adversities throughout one`s lifetime. Therefore, Sakyamuni became Buddha. Shinran Shonin became a Buddha. And Tatsuko Kato also became a Buddha.

Each of us, as human beings, has a potential to be awakened to the universal truth, or in other words, all of us originally have a seed to become a Buddha within our hearts. Therefore, we need to listen intently to the Buddhist teachings in our everyday lives so that we can quickly and firmly attain a truly happy and peaceful spirit.