There are two major Buddhist events for Shinran Followers. One is Houonkou, during which we commemorate Master Shinran’s teaching and virtue. The other is Gotan'e, during which we celebrate Master Shinran’s birth. Nothing compares to our joy of having been born as humans and coming to know the real purpose of life thanks to the teachings of Master Shinran. Gotan'e is one of the biggest opportunities to listen to the teachings of Master Shinran for one and all.
Nobody came into the world knowing the purpose of life. Instead, our lives started as if we were thrown into a great open sea where we could only see the sky and the water. We may try learning new swimming techniques, but then which direction should we swim in? All we can see all around us is the horizon. This is the ultimate question that each and every one of us have to face.
Seeking some relief for now, people desperately cling to the logs and boards they find on the surface. These are things like education, work, marriage, our own homes, etc. However, these logs and boards can easily be swept away by harsh waves, so we can never feel at ease. Countless people have ended up choking on salt water and drowning after being betrayed by the logs they found.
The fields of politics, economics, science, medicine, arts, literature, and law exist to coach people on how best to swim. Celebrities' advice on various TV shows is also nothing more than how to live or the way of living.
“But where should I swim to?” This fundamental question regarding the direction in which we should swim—meaning the purpose of life—remains completely unaddressed.
Only Master Shinran clarified the direction we should swim in: "There is the great Vow-ship of compassion!"
“Those who know of the ship of great compassion are fortunate.
Those who pursue the ship of great compassion are more fortunate.
Those who board the ship of great compassion are the most fortunate."
Let us achieve true faith this Gotan'e.
Master Shinran declared the real existence of the Vow-ship of great compassion and the direction it is in. (From Why We Live: Master Shinran and the Fire at Yoshizaki)