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Letters from Buddhist Friends


The True Self

Yoshiyuki Oguchi, Nagano Prefecture

Ryoken started listening to Buddhism because of his awareness of his own evil and of the fleeting nature of life. Master Rennyo taught how fleeting, unstable, and dream-like our lives are through his Letter on White Ashes. While listening to Master Rennyo’s words, I could not help thinking about the crucial matter of the afterlife, which I had forgotten about. As philosopher Martin Heidegger said, thinking seriously about the crucial matter of the afterlife is within the original nature of a human being, and to live without thinking about what will happen after this life is depraved.

It is wise to prepare for earthquakes which have a high possibility of striking in the near future, but it is most foolish not to think about the afterlife, which we are all absolutely certain to have to enter one day. Master Shinran teaches us that in this life, we can resolve the crucial matter of the afterlife and gain assurance of birth in the Pure Land. He calls salvation by Amida Buddha "salvation now, in life" (heizei gojo).

As Martin Heidegger said, world peace is only possible through Master Shinran’s teachings, and there is nothing more important for all humankind to know.


An "air of being privy to deep teachings"

Miho Kikkawa, Toyama Prefecture

It really made an impact on me to hear that Martin Heidegger was expecting Shinran Followers to have an air of knowing the true teachings. How would it be possible to convey Master Shinran's teachings during my daily interactions with my co-workers and patients, who know nothing about Buddhism? It is my goal as a Shinran Follower working in the medical field to stand out as someone who has an air of knowing the true teachings.

I specialize in nutrition management, so I am in charge of not only curing diseases through dietary care but also treating patients using gastrostomy tubes, intravenous drips and so on.

I see patients who say their life isn't worth living if they can no longer eat or family members who are not willing to have their loved one live longer if it is at the expense of having a gastrostomy tube connected to their stomach.

To always respect their wills might lead to undesirable results. A Shinran Follower who has come to know the dignity of life cannot easily agree with such views. But there truly is no way for mankind to be saved other than salvation by Amida Buddha. There is meaning in living even a second longer. I learned through listening to the teaching of heizei gojo (accomplishing the purpose of life while we are alive) that this is the unmistakable truth grounded on Amida Buddha’s Vow and the teachings of Master Shinran.

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