Once again we find ourselves at the year’s end. It is hard to believe that another year has gone by. December is a time for families to gather to celebrate the holidays. We celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Christmas and Bodhi Day, the day Siddartha Gautama became enlightened and became known as Shakyamuni Buddha.
Lately I often wonder why the time seems to pass by so swiftly. Perhaps it is because I fail to savor each moment, perhaps my sense of anticipation and excitement is not what it used to be. Perhaps, and more likely, I am busy with life and all that it brings with it. The Japanese term “isogashii,” being busy, is literally the heart/mind is destroyed. When our lives are so busy we can literally lose our minds and hearts. This is what it means to be isogashii.
December is a very busy time of the year, we find ourselves running here and there, visiting family, friends, shopping, etc. Since we are so very busy, we should find the time in our busy schedules to take a moment and express our gratitude for all that we have and all that we receive.
Dec. 8 commemorates the day Siddartha Gautama awakened to the Truth and became The Buddha. On that day he opened a path for all of us to follow, he blazed a trail that leads us to that Truth. The Buddha understood that we are all isogashii and that we cannot all live the life of a monk, but if we take a moment to think about one tiny moment or one small item or person that brings joy into our lives, we can be grateful for that. The Buddha also understood that we have trouble maintaining that deep gratitude as we go about our busy lives. The 18th vow of the Buddha was established by him for busy beings such as you and I.
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten quarters who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, desire to be born in my land, and call my Name, even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. Excluded, however, are those who commit the five gravest offences and abuse the right Dharma.”
The Truths that the Buddha had awakened to on Dec. 8 were outlined in his very first sermon. The Truth of interdependency. All of us are connected to each other, our thoughts, words and actions affect all other human beings. At the same time we cannot exist without the support, generosity and kindness of others seen and unseen.
He also taught the truth of impermanence. All things are subject to change, we are born into this world and as a result we will die. Our time here is precious and so are the lives of others. When we embrace this truth we live our lives differently, treating each moment and others we come into contact with differently.
He taught the Truth of cause and effect. All things that arise before us have a cause whether it be a person, an event or an experience. The results usually emanate from ourselves in the form of joy, sorrow, elation, disgust, etc. Those who embrace this truth confront events with wisdom, understanding and responsibility.
In our world of “busy-ness” I hope we find a moment to reflect upon the great gift of the Dharma that the Buddha has opened up for us and we express our gratitude all that we have received this past year.
Rev. Hosei Shinseki leads the Watsonville Buddhist Temple. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent those of the Pajaronian.