Echo of the Dharma - A Bilingual Blog on Shin Buddhism 日英両語による浄土真宗ブログ

On this blog, I would like to discuss different issues of the world in the light of the teaching of Pure Land master Shinran (1173-1263). このブログでは、世間折々の問題を浄土真宗の宗祖・親鸞聖人の教えに基づいて考えてみたいと思います。 (a stone image of a small boy and a girl on the street in Arashiyama, Kyoto)
The Year’s First Visit to Shinto Shrines
In Japan, many people visit Shinto Shrines during the first three days of the New Year's holiday in order to pray for a good and happy life throughout the year - for happiness and lack of misfortune in the household, traffic safety, success in business, success in learning, good health, good fortune, longevity, encounter with an ideal husband or wife, safe and easy delivery of a baby, and so on. Those wishes represent our selfish desires, and if gods were to listen to the millions of wishes thrown at them and fulfill them, they would go totally crazy.
However, things do not always go according to our wishes. Some people have a serious traffic accident after they have visited a shrine by car and prayed for good fortune. Interestingly enough, hardly anyone pray for birth in the Buddha's Pure Land after they die. That means those who visit the shrines to pray for good fortune have closed their eyes to the very fact of life, that is, that they have to die someday. This is one topic most people want to avoid, but is the reality everyone has to face some time in life.
Buddhism teaches us that the root cause of our suffering is our self-centered desires. We do not want to be poor, we do not want to be sick, and we want to live while others die. The Buddha exposes our selfishness under the Light of Wisdom and encourages us to entrust our life, death and all our selfish desires to him. The best thing we can do at the beginning of the year is to accept the fact that we are living a life that comes to an end someday and that by entrusting ourselves to the Buddha's guidance, we can truly live a happy and bright life throughout the year.

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