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Monthly Dharma Thoughts

An invitation to listen


Some people have the strangest ideas about religion. Some people think that religion is for people who are on their last legs. They will protest that it is too soon for them, as they are not that old. There are others who will say that religion is the opium of the people and that it is not necessary for those who want to live a rational life.


Many things happen in the course of a lifetime, however. A child dies, friends betray one another, people lose their jobs. Things happen all of a sudden and you lose confidence. It is at times like these that people turn to a religion that they can rely on to give them support.


Jodo Shinshu is a religious teaching that gives people a way to live a rich life and shows people a way to depart this world in peaceful awareness. This is the teaching of Namu Amida Butsu. It is the wisdom and the strength to look life in the eye and live through the hard times that all people suffer. 


There is a famous saying by Rennyo Shonin:

Everyone should listen to the Buddha Dharma even if it means giving up what little free time they have to do so. However well intended, that kind of thinking, that we should listen to the Buddha Dharma only when we have free time, actually marks a new low point in our lives. For as the Buddha Dharma gently reminds us: Never assume there’s going to be a tomorrow to do so.*


People who say they will listen to Buddhism when they have free time will not listen to the Buddha Dharma. They only say they will, tomorrow.

As for this life of ours, there is no guarantee of a tomorrow. Rennyo firmly reminds us to inquire after the meaning of life now, and not to put it off till that tomorrow which may never come.


*Note: Favorite Sayings of Rennyo Shonin Heard Spoken Throughout His Life, 155.