Arizona Jr. YBA hosted Southern District Jr. YBA Seminar from January 14-15, 2012. The theme was “Exile to Arizona: The Life of Shinran Shonin.” AZ juniors organized 3 workshops based on the basic teachings of Buddhism. It is “dependent origination.” Everything is related by “cause”, “condition”, and “result or effect.” If you are sick, you go to hospital. Then, a nurse will take care of you and a doctor will examine what is wrong with you and find out the cause of your illness. Based on the cause of illness, the doctor will give you medicine. Because of certain conditions and situations, you become sick and have a high fever, coughing, headache, and so forth. Like this example, we are living in the law of “cause-and-effect.” Let me put this law of “cause-and-effect” in our daily lives, and examine our lives. We are all patients, the Buddha is our doctor, the Sangha is our nurse, and the Dharma is our medicine. Whenever we face problems, we ask Buddha-Dharma for the guidance. By deeply reflecting upon ourselves and listening to the teachings (finding out the cause of our illness), we receive the Buddha’s Wisdom (doctor’s medicine) to solve our problems. Shinran Shonin deeply reflected upon himself especially after his exile and called himself as a foolish being. He declared that he was neither a monk nor a lay. It means he emphasized that he couldn’t follow and maintain any strict practices and studies what he experienced on Mt. Hiei as a monk. It also means he was not a lay because he was still pursuing his spiritual path which was the Nembutsu teachings as a Buddhist. So he declared himself as neither a monk nor a lay and called himself a foolish being.
Let me go back to the main theme, “Exile to Arizona: The Life of Shinran Shonin.” In case of Shinran Shonin, the cause of his exile to Echigo was Nembutsu teachings. We can talk about more in details by adding like Honen Shonin, jealous monks on Mt. Hiei, or misjudgment of imperial court. However, the very core of the cause was Nembutsu Teachings. Then, after his exile, what had happened in his life? I am talking about the condition based on the law of “cause-and-effect.” Because of his exile, he could share the Nembutsu teachings what he had received from his master Honen Shonin, especially with common people like fishermen, farmers, and so forth. As a result, Nembutsu teachings were spread and flourished to not only in Japan but also to all over the world. This is why we have a Sangha here in America and also our temple to listen to the teachings. Without “cause”, “condition”, and “result” of Shinran Shonin’s exile, our temple would not be in existence in today.
Now, I would like to discuss with you regarding the case of juniors’ exile. What were the “cause”, “condition”, and “result?” They came here as if they were exiled to AZ like Shinran Shonin because AZ Juniors hosted seminar. So, the cause was seminar. What was the condition? Because of their participation in the seminar, they learned about the life of Shinran Shonin and other exiles. The most important thing is the result or effect. As we can see from the life of Shinran Shonin, the result is important. Depend on our reflections, the result will change. I hoped that we have more appreciation to Shinran Shonin and his teachings, our temple and Sangha, our ancestors and family who made possible for us to encounter the teachings of Nembutsu. In this sense, their seminar theme could be changed from “Exile to AZ: The Life of Shinran Shonin” to “Exile to AZ: The Life of Me.”
We simply say nembutsu teachings were brought to us by Shinran Shonin. However, he certainly experienced many sufferings and encountered hardships in order to share the true teachings which he had received from his master, Honen Shonin. We have the teachings, temple and Sangha here in AZ. It is because Shinran Shonin clarified the Nembutsu teachings. Also, as we can learn from Kakure Nembutsu, history of immigrants, etc., it is because countless nembutsu followers selflessly contributed their times, energies, and even their lives in order to protect and pass down the teachings to the next generation. This is why we are truly grateful. Without their sacrifices, we would not be encountering the teachings today. It is now our turn to carry on this rich heritage and precious teaching to the next generations. Let us all reflect upon how we encountered Shinran Shonin’s teachings; how we are living in the Nembutsu teachings and who made possible to do so; and how Shinran Shonin’s teachings change and enrich our life. In response, let us recite Nembutsu with deep gratitude and appreciation in our daily lives.