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Monthly Dharma Thoughts

The life we share freely and equally


In 1948, in recognition of the grandeur of life, the United Nations set forth The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, affirming that all people are born free and equal in human rights and dignity.  This points to the fact that the grandeur of life is one that is shared by all people freely and equally.


Freedom and equality are important concepts.  Shinran Shonin also explores what they mean.  Here is a glimpse as to what he has to say.


Shinran Shonin tells us that we always walk in the light of Amida Buddha.  The light of the Buddha’s wisdom and compassion shines equally on everyone, without discriminating amongst them.  All of life thus sparkles equally in the light of Amida Buddha.


As a result of living the life of Nembutsu, we have a mutual awareness of this life we share freely and equally.  In our hearts we share the same wish as others we meet, to walk the path leading to the Pure Land.


As we walk this path together we will not live with any form of discrimination.  We will live by a code of mutual respect and thoughtfulness.  It is here that we find the way of life of the person of Nembutsu.


In a hymn he composed, Shinran Shonin expressed the idea that

Out of concern for all, the Buddha thinks of
Each living being as if they were his only child.

[Hymns of the Pure Land, 114]


When we realize that the Buddha thinks of us as if we were his only child, we also come to realize that the Buddha thinks of every living being as if they were his only child.  This opens up a world where, under one parent, we all live together in one big family as brothers and sisters.


All of us start out holed up in the shells of our ego.  Through the Buddha’s compassion, we awaken to the interrelated nature of life.  A way thus opens up in the midst of the trials and tribulations we undergo in real life.  When we look back upon them in time, we realize that if it were not for the suffering we had to endure, we would never have sought to live in the spirit of Shinran Shonin’s teaching.