毒の水あめ

この年末年始の季節は家族と友達が集まって、お雑煮やおせち料理を始め美味しいご馳走をいただきます。伝統的な旬の料理をいただきますと昔の人たちとの繋がりを感じます。

私はこの間初めて水あめを食べました。初めて味わったものでしたが、一休さんで知られている一休宗純禅師(1394〜1481)の幼い頃のとんち話に水あめが出てくるので、ずっとどんな味かと気になっていました。一休さんは本願寺の第八代のご門主蓮如上人(1415〜1499)と同じ時代に京都周辺にて活躍されており、お二人は仲の良い法友だったと伝えられています。

一休さんは後小松天皇(1377〜1433)の血を引くといわれ、6歳の時に京都の安国寺というお寺に入門しました。ある日、安国寺の和尚さんは水あめをお土産にもらいましたが、小僧たちが食べないように和尚さんが次のように言いました:「これは大人用の薬じゃ。子供には毒じゃ。食べたら、死んでしまうぞ。決して食べてはいかん。」

その後、和尚さんの外出中、一休さんは和尚さんの大好きな硯 (すずり)を割ってしまいました。仲間の小僧たちは和尚さんが帰ってきたら大変だと心配していましたが、そこで一休さんはとんちを働かせました。一休さんは和尚さんの水あめを持ってくると、皆で全部食べてしまいました。そして、食べ終わると、畳の上にジッとして寝るように言いました。

和尚さんが帰ってくると、硯は割られ、水あめは無くなり、小僧たちが皆床に寝ていることを見て、「一体何のことじゃ」と一休さんに聞きました。そして、一休さんは次のように答えました「私たちの不注意で硯を割ってしまいましたので、毒の水あめを食べて、命でお詫びしようとしているのです。まだ死んでいませんが、もう少ししたら毒が効いてくると思いますので、少々お待ちください。」和尚さんはこのとんちを聞いて、笑うしかなかったそうです。

過ぎた一年間の日頃の行いを省みて、仏様の智慧の光に輝いてる人生を送ることができただろうかと反省するのは念仏者の新年の迎え方です。私は自分の都合で、嘘をついたり、真実を認めなかったりする癖があります。私たちは自分のいつわりが明らかにされた時、どのような態度をとるでしょうか?素直に認めることもあれば、頑固になって認めないこともあります。和尚さんが自分の嘘がばれて笑ったのは、「我」から解放され、プライドに縛れていなかったからだと私はこのとんち話の味わいを感じています。

一休禅師は1461年に本願寺で営まれた親鸞聖人の二百回忌法要にお参りされたとき「襟巻きのあたたかそうな黒坊主こやつが法は天下一なり」と詠まれたと伝えられています。親鸞聖人は教行信証に善導大師の次の言葉を引用しています。

心のうちにはいつわりをいだいて、貪り・怒り・よこしま・いつわり・欺きの心が絶えずおこって、悪い本性は変わらないのであり、それはあたかも蛇や蝎のようである。身・苦・意の三業に行を修めても、それは毒のまじった善といい(略)この毒のまじった行を因として、阿弥陀仏の浄土に生まれようと求めても、決して生まれることはできない。なぜかというと、まさしく、阿弥陀仏が因位において、菩薩の行を修めれたときには、わずか一念一刹那の間であっても、その身・苦・意の三業に修められた行はみな、真実の心においてなされたことによる事に由るからである。

(『浄土真宗聖典 顕浄土真実教行証文類 現代語訳』170〜171頁)

親鸞聖人が説かれた念仏の法というのは、阿弥陀如来の智慧の光が私たちの心を照らしてくれることにより、私たちの本当の心の有様に気づかせてくれ、私たちが仏様の真実の心に帰依することによりお浄土に往生できるという教えであります。

 

南無阿弥陀仏


Poison Candy

At this time of year we have many opportunities to eat delicious food as we gather to celebrate the winter holidays with our friends and families. During New Year’s many of our temple members will enjoy traditional Japanese dishes like ozōni stew or the traditional osechi menu. When we eat these traditional Japanese dishes we feel a deep connection to the past and the lives of those who have come before. This past year I had the opportunity to try mizuame, a thick, sugary syrup that has been enjoyed by Japanese children for centuries.

It was the first time tasting mizuame, but I had been curious about it since first hearing of it in an apocryphal story about the Zen Buddhist monk Ikkyu Sōjun Zenji (1394–1481). Ikkyu was a contemporary of Rennyo Shonin (1415-1499) the eighth abbot of our mother temple, the Hongwanji. Ikkyu and Rennyo were renowned Buddhist priests active in the Kyoto area, and while there are no authoritative historical records of their relationship, legend has it that they were good Dharma friends.

Ikkyu is said to have been an unrecognized son of the Emperor Go-Komatsu (1377–1433). His mother left him in the care of a temple in Kyoto at the age of six to be raised as a monk. The tales of Ikkyu’s youthful exploits and sharp wit continue to delight and inspire children and adults in Japan to this day.

One day the abbot of Ikkyu’s temple received a gift of mizuame. It seems the abbot had a sweet tooth. To discourage his young students from pillaging this special treat, he told them that the jar did not contain candy, but rather a special medicine that was safe for adults, but poisonous to children.

Later, while the abbot was away from the temple on official business, young Ikkyu accidentally broke the treasured inkstone that the abbot used for brush painting and calligraphy. His fellow monks immediately began speculating about what severe punishment they would all face upon the abbot’s return. Ikkyu, however, remained calm and reflected on the situation until he arrived at an elegant solution to their dilemma.

Ikkyu invited all the other young monks to join him in eating up the mizuame. When they had finished off the whole jar, he instructed them to lie on the tatami mat floor as if they were dead. They waited there on the floor until the abbot came home. When the abbot walked into his quarters, he was astonished to see all the young monks lying on the floor of his room, next to the broken inkstone, and the empty jar of mizuame. When the abbot demanded an explanation, Ikkyu confessed, “We broke your precious inkstone, so we tried to give our lives in apology. We ate all this poison, but for some reason, we haven’t died yet. I’m sure it will take effect soon, so we’ll just keep lying here until it does.” When the abbot heard this explanation, he knew that he had been bested by Ikkyu’s quick wit. The abbot burst into laughter, admitted defeat and dismissed the young monks.

It is our custom to take the arrival of the New Year as an opportunity to reflect deeply on our daily activities over the past year and ask ourselves if we have lived in a way that reflects the light of the Buddha’s wisdom that we receive in the Nembutsu. It is in my nature to tell lies and twist the truth at my own convenience. The real test of our character is how we respond when someone shines the light of wisdom on our actions and reveals our attempts to deceive ourselves and others. Do we freely admit our deception and gracefully own up, or do we double down on the falsehood? The abbot’s ability to gracefully own up to his deception shows that he is free from pride and ego.

Legend has it that when he saw a portrait of Jodo Shinshu founder Shinran Shonin (1173-1262) wearing the white scarf that indicated his mastery of the Tendai Buddhist doctrine, Ikkyu remarked, “The Dharma taught by this monk in the warm scarf and the black robe is the finest in the world.” In the Chapter on Shinjin from Shinran’s True Teaching Practice and Realization, he quotes the follow passage from the writings of Shandao:

We are filled with all manner of greed, anger, perversity, deceit, wickedness, and cunning, and it is difficult to put an end to our evil nature. In this we are like poisonous snakes or scorpions. Though we perform practices in the three modes of action*, they must be called poisoned good acts or false practices. . . . To seek birth in the Buddha’s Pure Land by directing the merit of such poisoned practice is completely wrong. Why? Because when, in his causal stage, Amida Buddha was performing practices as a bodhisattva, in every single moment – every single instant – he performed his practices in the three modes of action with a true and real mind. [True practice] depends on this.

(Collected Works of Shinran, p. 84-85)

*three modes of action: bodily action, words, thoughts

In the Nembutsu teaching of Shinran Shonin, we begin by recognizing the light of Amida Buddha that continually shines into our hearts and minds, showing us that our path to liberation is found in deep entrusting in the true and real mind of the Buddha.

Namo Amida Butsu


狂象

日本の仏教では、釈迦牟尼如来が悟りを開いたことを記念する成道会(じょうどうえ)は12月8日に行われています。サンマテオ仏教会では、皆様が一緒にご参拝できるよう、今年12月3日(日曜日)9時半からの成道会を行いますので、是非お参りください。成道会はゴータマ・シッダッタが悟りの道と智慧の光を求めた歩みを繰り返した、仏様の素晴らしいところを褒めたたえる法要です。その智慧の光を得た瞬間にシッダッタが仏となって、後に釈迦牟尼(釈迦族の聖者)と呼ばれるようになりました。

釈迦牟尼仏は悟りを開いてから45年間、争いと迷いの多い世の中においても智慧と慈悲に輝いた生涯を送られました。下記のエピソードにその智慧と慈悲を拠り所とし、釋迦様の名称を恨んだ従兄弟の提婆達多(だいばだった)に対する釈迦牟尼の素晴らしい対応が描かれています。

その時に世尊の中に提婆達多の名くるものがあつた。学識世に勝れて、夙(つと)に一方の識者をもつて任競られてゐるが、世尊の教化が日に旺盛となつて、すべて世尊の門に走るのを見て、内心に嫉妬(しっと)を起し、あらゆる方便(しゅだん)を用ひて世尊の教化を妨ぐる正法破壊の鬼となつた。

或る時に耆閣崛山に登つて、折から其の麓(ふもと)を通行せらるゝ世尊に向つて、大きな岩石を投じ、もつて世尊の命を絶たうとした。けれ共石は共石は分れた左右に飛び、竟(つい)に世尊を害することは出来なかつた。

又或る時に彼れは、平坦の道の上に狂酔のした悪象を放つた。象は雷霆のやうに吼(ほ)え廻り、其の勇悍(ゆうかん)さは雲の走るに似て、道の左右に倚り狂ひ、暴風のそれにも似て、鼻牙四足の蠋るゝまゝに摧碎(くだ)き廻つた。

それがためは王舎城の巷路は、死體の山を築き、血の海と化し、衆(すべて)人みな家を閉して出でず、城内をあげて戰慄(せんりつ)し、たゞ驚嘆の聲に充(あ)ち、國を逸れて逸れて他國に走らうとするもあれば、穴を見出してこれに難を避けんとしては、反つてこれがために死傷するものも夥(おびただ)しかつた。

世尊は其の時五百の大衆と共に、町に行乞に出でられた。總ての人は世尊の危険を恐れて行乞を止めて歸り給はんことを乞ふた。

けれ共世尊は心泰然として更に動せらるず、反つて畜生の心の貪りと嫉みの苦に煩えてゐるのを憐まれ、彼れの心を和げやうとせられて、反つて狂象の側に近づかれた。

五百の弟子たちは恐れをなして逃げ避けてゐるにもかゝわらず、世尊は阿難を一人召し連れて醉象の前に立たれた。

盛んに荒れ狂ふた酔象も、一目、世尊の尊容を見奉るや否や、即所(たちどこ)に其の見を世尊の前に投げ出した様は、大山が一時に崩るゝかと許り思はれた。

世尊は手に蓮華をもつて狂象の頭を摩ぜられて、彼に向つていはるゝやう。

『象よ、汝は消して大龍を害してはならない。象と龍と戰ふことは、非常に困難の事である。若しも象が大龍を害しやうと思ふたらば、どうしても汝は畜生の苦患から免るゝことは出来ない。

貪瞋癡の迷酔は、実に醒め難いものであるけれ共、これを醒ます方便はたゞゞ佛道ある許りである。

それであるから、汝今より心を改めて、自ら内に省みて此の三毒の酔より覚めなくてはならぬ。一度苦海に沒入するときは、ますます深底に入る許りである』

と、狂象は世尊の説を聴いて、狂酔の心は頓に覚めて、即ち世尊の正化に潤(うるお)ふことが出来て、其の心は渇せるものゝ、甘露の水を得たに似て満足に充ちた。

仏所行讃 : 現代意訳, 池田卓然 訳著, p. 286-288

釋迦様は酔象を恐れなかったので、敵意なしに慈悲をもって対応されました。この酔象の話では、忍辱と慈悲によって恐ろしい敵の心を転回できる可能性が示されています。私にとって、釋迦様のような慈悲を実践することは非常に難しいので、親鸞聖人の次の言葉に他力念仏が大慈悲に生かされている道であることをありがたくご聴聞させていただきます。

浄土の慈悲というは、念仏して、いそぎ仏になりて、大慈大悲心をもって、おもふがごとく衆生を利益するをいふべきなり。

(『歎異抄』第四章)

 

南無阿弥陀仏


The Maddened Elephant

In Japan, Bodhi Day, the day of Sakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, is traditionally observed on December 8. This year we invite you to join us for a special Bodhi Day Service on Sunday, December 3 at 9:30 a.m. Bodhi Day is a time when we reflect on Siddhartha Gautama’s heroic journey in search of the light of clear wisdom that shines through the darkness of ignorance and mistaken thinking. When he fully realized that light of wisdom in his mind, he became a Buddha, or “Awakened One,” who would come to be revered as Sakyamuni, the Sage of the Sakya Clan.

The 45 years of Sakyamuni’s life that followed his realization of Buddhahood, provide a model for manifesting the awakened mind in the midst of the violence and chaos that has existed in our world since ancient times and sadly continues to this day. The following episode from the traditional biography of the Buddha describes how Sakyamuni relied on the wisdom and compassion of awakening to respond to the mayhem caused by his cousin Devadatta, who envied the Buddha’s renown and sought to usurp his leadership of the Sangha.

At that time, when Devadatta saw the excellence of the Buddha’s qualities, deep in his heart he felt jealous and withdrew from the trances. He used evil means to destroy the order of the Right Law.

[Devadatta] ascended Mount Grdhrakuta, let a rock fall, and tried to hit the Buddha with it, but the rock split in two and fell to the Buddha’s left and right.

On the level and straight royal road [Devadatta] let loose a maddened evil elephant. His rolling roar was like thunder. His ferocity burst forth, forming a cloud. He rushed on like a storm, mighty as a fierce wind.

His trunk, tusks, tail, and four feet—coming into contact with them would absolutely bring destruction. In the alleys and streets of the city of Rajagrha, those he had killed and injured lay scattered about. After their violent deaths, the corpses lay spread out in the streets. Brains and blood were spattered all around.

All the men and women were afraid to go out. The whole city trembled [in fear]. One heard only voices calling out in panic. Some left the city
in a hurry, and others hid in caves.

The Tathagata and a group of five hundred then arrived and entered the city. The people in the windows high on the pavilions advised the Buddha not to proceed.

The Tathagata was composed at heart and complacent, and his countenance was free from distress. He was mindful only of the suffering of envy. His compassionate mind wished to put [the elephant] at ease.

As a multitude of gods and dragons followed all around, [the Buddha] gradually approached the place where the maddened elephant was. All the bhiksus had fled, so he was accompanied only by Ananda. Just like the one specific nature of all kinds of characteristics of the Law, he did not move.

The maddened elephant burst forth in a rage, but when he saw the Buddha, his mind immediately became calm. He threw himself down and made obeisance at the Buddha’s feet, as if Mount Tai had crumbled.

With his lotus-like palm, [the Buddha] patted [the elephant] on the head, just like the sun shining on a dark cloud. As [the elephant] knelt at the Buddha’s feet, he expounded the Law to him, saying:

“No elephant may injure the greatest dragon! It is hard for an elephant to fight a dragon, but if an elephant wants to injure the greatest dragon, he will never be reborn in a wholesome destination!

“The infatuations of greed, anger, and delusion are difficult to subdue, but the Buddha has subdued them. That is why you should now reject greed, anger, and delusion. If you do not reject them, [you will be] sunk in the mud of suffering and they will further increase.”

When the elephant had heard the Buddha’s exposition, his madness was destroyed and his mind immediately gained insight. He was content in body and in mind, as when one is thirsty and drinks the nectar of immortality.

(Buddhacarita: In Praise of the Buddha’s Acts, translated by Charles Willemen, pg. 153-154)

Because the Buddha does not feel threatened by the elephant, he is able to meet it with compassion rather than aggression. This story illustrates the power of patient compassion to transform even the most terrifying adversary. I find it exceedingly difficult to exhibit such awakened compassion in my own life. Nevertheless, I take comfort in Shinran Shonin’s assurance that the nembutsu is indeed the path to a life of boundless compassion:

Compassion in the Pure Land Path should be understood as first attaining Buddhahood quickly through saying the nembutsu and, with the mind of great love and compassion, freely benefiting sentient beings as one wishes.

(Collected Works of Shinran, p. 633)

 

Namo Amida Butsu


かぎりなき生命

この一ヶ月の間に悲劇的な災害が相次いで起こり、一つの災害の収束を待たずして次の災害が起きています。災害で身内の方を亡くされた方々に、サンマテオ仏教会を代表してお悔やみを申し上げます。無量の慈悲の働きによって別離の悲しみが癒されますことを心より願っております。このような大変な時にこそ、人生の正しい方向を示して下さるよりどころを仰ぐべきではないでしょうか。私のよりどころは仏様の教えとその教えに照らされていた方々の人生です。

九条武子様(1887〜1928)は偉大な詩人であると同時に仏様の智慧の光に照られた人生を送られた方でした。1923年の関東大震災の際には救援活動に積極的に取り組まれました。震災の経験について次のように述べていらっしゃいます。

 

 四面(しめん)、炎(ほのほ)につゝまれたなかに、纔(わづ)かに生(せい)をとゞめてゐる人(ひと)たち、――そこには貴(たふと)きも賤(いや)しきも、学問(がくもん)ある者(もの)もなき者(もの)も、老(おい)たるも若(わか)きも、凡(およ)そ世(よ)のありとあらゆる階級(かいきふ)、あらゆる種類(しゆるゐ)の人(ひと)たちがゐた。
 しかし、刻々(こくこく)に迫(せま)る惨(いた)ましき運命(うんめい)の前(まへ)に臨(のぞ)んで、心(こゝろ)から念(ねん)じられるものは、みな一様(いちやう)であつた。
 久遠(くをん)の生命(せいめい)へ。――
 それは、一切(いっさい)の仮象(かしやう)から放(はな)たれた者(もの)の、最後(さいご)の願(ねが)ひであつた。人生(じんせい)最後(さいご)の念願(ねんぐわん)においては、貴賤貧富(きせんひんぷ)の差別(さべつ)はない。

(『無憂華』 108頁)

 何人(なんぴと)も久遠(くをん)の生命(せいめい)を慕(した)ふ心(こゝろ)に燃(も)えてゐる。しかし何人(なんぴと)も瞬間(しゆんかん)の幻滅(げんめつ)になやまされがちである。久遠(くをん)へとあこがれるわれらの現実(げんじつ)は、つねに幻滅(げんめつ)への連続(れんぞく)であるところに、人生(じんせい)の皮肉(ひにく)な悲哀(ひあい)がある。
 世(よ)に久遠(くをん)を説(と)く者(もの)の、如何(いか)に多(おほ)いことであらう。しかしながら、過(す)ぎし日(ひ)の経験(けいけん)と、なやましき現実(げんじつ)とを無視(むし)して、自由(じいう)に創作(さうさく)するところに、かぎりなき生命(せいめい)を見出(みいだ)すのではない。たゞ、久遠(くをん)の光明(くわうみやう)に照(て)らし出(だ)されてゐる、現実(げんじつ)をかへりみるもののみ、光(ひかり)ある営(いとな)みが与(あた)へられる。須叟(しゆゆ)にして滅(ほろ)び去(さ)るみづからの営(いとな)みが、現(げん)に光明(くわうみやう)の遍照(へんぜう)の裡(うち)に在(あ)ることを思(おも)へば、久遠(くをん)の生命(せいめい)の把握(はあく)は、短(みじか)き瞬間(しゆんかん)の現実(げんじつ)のなかに在(あ)ることが知(し)られる。

(『無憂華』 101頁)

 

11月12日(日曜日)午前11時半から永代経法要を行いますので、是非ご参拝ください。御講師は嶋裕史師です。「永代経」とは「永代読経」の意であり、「先にお浄土に往生された方々を偲びつつ、永代にわたり読経が続くこと」を意味します。また浄土真宗では故人の命日を縁にして仏恩報謝のお念仏に励み、仏法を聞く機会をいただいたことをよろこぶ法要であります。葬儀にあたり、永代経の過去帳に故人の名前を加える際に永代経懇志(お布施)いただきます。先亡者への感謝の念が込められているお布施のおかげで、サンマテオ仏教会は設立以来今日まで続いており、これからも仏教会が存続する限り永代経法要は永遠に続けられます。永代経法要が続くというのは仏教会が仏様のみ教えを聞く場として永遠に機能することを意味します。サンマテオ仏教会が不安定な時代の中にあって全ての人々が心の安らぎを見いだすところとして続くことを願っております。

 

南無阿弥陀仏

 


Limitless Life

Over the past month, tragic disasters have occurred one after another, following so closely upon each other’s heels that we scarcely have time to come to grips with one disaster before being confronted with the next. Our San Mateo Buddhist Temple Sangha offers our deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones in these disasters, and offer our heartfelt wishes that those affected will find solace and peace of mind through the working of boundless compassion. In times like this, we seek a guiding light to show us the way forward in our lives, an axis of clarity that will enable us to maintain peace of mind in the midst of all this chaos. I find that guiding light in the teachings of the Buddha and in lives of those who have brilliantly reflected the light of the Buddha’s wisdom.

Lady Takeko Kujo (1887-1928) is one of the bright lights of the Buddha’s wisdom shining in our world during modern times. She was a renowned poet and great humanitarian who worked tirelessly in service of the poor who lived in the slums of Tokyo during the early twentieth century. The following reflections that she composed in response to the devastation she witnessed first-hand during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 shine with the light of precious wisdom.

 

Those with just a little life remaining were crowded on all sides by fire—those with high rank and low, learned and unlearned, old and young, people from all classes and abilities.

But all these people, who were moment by moment approaching their imminent fate, had one common wish.

Eternal life.

That is the final wish of everyone who has nothing more to rely upon. In this final desire, there is absolutely no distinction between great and small, high and low, old or young, male or female.

(Muyuge: Flower without Sorrow, p. 106)

 

  We all burn with desire for eternal life.

  We are, however, apt to be tormented over disappointment of the moment. Cynicism starts when our aspiration to live forever is disillusioned by its briefness.

  Many preach eternity, but it is impossible to discover the limitless life by merely talking about it, disregarding the experiences of yesterday and the torment of today’s reality.

  Only those who reflect on the fact that they are continually bathed in the light of eternity, will live a life in which there is light. Only when we consider that our life, though decaying moment by moment, is always bathed in the omnipresent life, will we begin to grasp the eternal life that is found only in each moment of reality.

(Muyuge: Flower without Sorrow, p. 99)

 

On Sunday, November 12, at 11:30 a.m., special Guest Speaker Rev. Yushi Mukojima, Resident Minister of the Mountain View Buddhist Temple, will join us for our annual Eitaikyo Memorial Service. “Eitaikyo” literally means “perpetual sutra.” It is a shortened way of referring to “a service in which we chant sutras in perpetuity to honor those who have left this world before us.” The funds to conduct the Eitaikyo Service come from donations made when an individual’s name is added to the Eitaikyo Register. Traditionally, Eitaikyo donations have been made by the family of the deceased when a loved one passes away. This practice of dana, or generosity, in grateful memory of a loved one is what has allowed this service to be conducted without interruption since the establishment of our temple. The Eitaikyo service will continue to be conducted as long as our temple exists. By continuing the Eitaikyo service, we ensure that our temple will remain a place to gather and hear the Dharma into the future without end. In this way, we hope that our temple will be a continual place of refuge for all who seek peace and comfort in turbulent times.

 

Namo Amida Butsu


浄土のはなよめ

十月にサンマテオ仏教会で念仏に生かされたご婦人方をお偲びします。その一人に江戸時代の終わり頃、山口県六連島に住んでいたお軽(かる)(1801〜1856)という妙好人がいました。

お軽は若い時は気が強いことでよく知られました。19歳の時に結婚しましたが、夫は仕事で下関や北九州に行って、お軽をおいて長く島を離れることがよくありました。お軽はそのことを恨み、島の唯一のお寺の住職に相談したところ、住職が言ったこととは、その夫との間の問題が仏法を訪ねるご縁になったことに感謝すべきだという意外な答えでした。

それからお軽はよくお寺にお参りし、仏法を聞き、ありがたい念仏者になりました。人間の先入観はなかなか離れないので、周りの人たちはお軽の心の転回をすぐには受け入れられませんでした。お軽は常に阿弥陀如来の浄土に心を向け、外面的や世俗的なことに興味を示さず、変わり者としてよく扱われました。

六連島では、五月五日の節句は唯一漁が許される日だったので、その日は誰もが海にハマグリやウニを獲りに行きました。お軽もそれに参加し、必死にたくさんの貝類をとりました。それを見た島の人たちは「よくお寺参りをするくせに、私たちよりも殺生をしている。」とお軽をあざ笑いました。

その夜、島の人たちはその日に取った貝を料理し、それぞれの家の前に貝殻の山ができました。お軽もたくさんの貝を取りましたが、家の前に貝殻は一つもなかったので、気ちがい婆々が貝殻ごと食べていると噂しました。

しかし、その夜遅くに一人の人が余った貝を新鮮に保つための海水を取りに浜に行った時、誰かが木の桶から何かを取り出して、海に入れる姿を見ました。近づいて見ましたら、貝を海に戻しながら、「怖い思いをさせてごめんね。助けられたのはあなたたちだけ、本当にごめんね。南無阿弥陀仏。南無阿弥陀仏」と言っているお軽でした。

島の人はお軽をあざ笑いましたが、お軽は人の目を気にしませんでした。必ず阿弥陀如来の浄土に往生する信心が定まったので、お念仏の安心に生かされました。そのように次の詩を読みました。

きちがい婆々といわれしわれも

              やがて浄土のはなよめに

(『妙好人おかるの歌』6頁)

 

南無阿弥陀仏


A Radiant Bride

During the month of October, we remember the women of the Nembutsu whose lives shine with the Buddha’s light of wisdom and compassion. One of the great Nembutsu poets of the late Edo Period was the Myōkōnin Okaru (1801-1856) who lived on the tiny island of Mutsure in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

As a young woman, Okaru was known for her strong personality and fiery temper. She married at age 19, but her husband travelled frequently for business and would stay away from home for long stretches at a time, causing Okaru to become frustrated and angry. When she eventually turned to the priest of the local Buddhist temple for counsel, he surprised her by saying that she should be grateful for this relationship trouble, because it was the karmic condition that led her to the Buddhadharma.

From that point on, Okaru visited the temple regularly, and her heart became settled in the peace and joy of the Nembutsu. People are often reluctant to let go of their preconceptions, so it took time for her fellow islanders to appreciate the change of heart she had experienced. With her mind always directed toward Amida Buddha’s Pure Land, Okaru showed little concern for worldly matters. To her neighbors, she appeared unkempt and peculiar.

The May 5th Children’s Day celebration was the only day of the year when the people of Mutsure were allowed to fish and harvest shellfish in the abundant waters that surrounded their island. Not only did Okaru join her fellow islanders on the beach, she was particularly zealous in gathering as many shellfish as she could. As the other islanders noticed the great trove of shellfish she had amassed, some people made snide remarks, saying “Okaru walks around all day saying ‘Namo Amida Butsu.’ If she’s such a devout Buddhist, how can she take the lives of so many living beings?”

That evening great mounds of empty shells piled up outside each home as families feasted on the day’s catch. When her neighbors noticed that no empty shells had been discarded outside Okaru’s house, some thought “That crazy old hag is eating her clams, shells and all.”

Around midnight, one of the islanders went down to the beach to collect fresh seawater for storing his uneaten shellfish, so they would stay fresh for the next day’s meal. Approaching the water, he noticed someone hunched over a basket, speaking softly. As he drew closer, he saw that it was Okaru carefully releasing the shellfish she had gathered back into the sea, saying “I’m sorry. I must have scared you when I took you away from your home today. I gathered as many of you as I could before the other islanders could get you. I’m sorry I couldn’t save more of your relatives. Now, return to your home, little shellfish! Namo Amida Butsu, Namo Amida Butsu.”

People would occasionally sneer at Okaru, but she did not pay any mind to what others thought of her. She enjoyed peace of mind in the Nembutsu, confident that the most important matter of her birth in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha was settled. In the words of one of her poems:

Though mocked (in this world)

              As a crazy old hag,

In the Pure Land

              I will be a radiant bride!

(Myokonin Okaru and Her Poems of the Shinjin, p. 47)

 

Namo Amida Butsu


蝉の声

夏が終わりにさしかかるにつれ、そろそろ心が9月24日の秋のお彼岸法要に向かいます。この季節はお寺の雰囲気をより味わうことができ、小林一茶(いっさ)(1763~1827)のこの俳句がこころに響いてきます。

小坊主や袂の中の蝉の声
こぼうずや たもとのなかの せみのこえ

昔から日本ではお寺が子供の教育の重要な役割を果たしてきました。現在にいたっても多くのお寺が近所の子供たちが通う保育園や幼稚園を経営しています。一茶の当時、子供の保護が出来ない家族は子供を小僧としてお寺に預かることも珍しくありませんでした。一茶自身が信仰していた浄土真宗のお寺は家族で営むことが多く、子供は幼い時から仏教のお勤めと教えを学んでいました。

蝉の鳴き声といえば日本の夏を思い出します。昔から、蝉という大きくて、立派な泣き声をする昆虫は子供に興味深く、多くの子供たちが蝉を捕まえ虫籠に入れて遊んできました。上記の俳句を読むと一茶の周りの小坊主たちが在家の子供たちと同様に遊んでいたことが分かります。その当時、あるお寺は修行の道場でありながらも、一方で子供の楽しい遊び場としても存在していました。小坊主たちはお勤めを学び、教典を勉強しつつ、夏には蝉を捕まえ、それを衣の袂に入れて遊んでいたのです。

出家してお寺に入った小坊主たち以外に、在家の子供たちも寺院の中の寺子屋で読み書きや算盤を習いにお寺に通ってきていました。サンマテオ仏教会で行われている「サマー寺子屋」というサマーキャンプは日本の寺子屋の古い仏教教育の伝統を受けながら運営されています。

サマー寺子屋に参加している子供たちは交代交代でお勤めの調声をし、毎朝大乗仏教の根本実践法である六波羅蜜(布施、持戒、忍辱、精進、禅定、智慧)を学びました。サマー寺子屋が行われていた一週間の間、お寺は小学一年生から高校一年生までの子供たちが仏教の伝統と教えを学ぶ道場であると同時に、面白いひょっとこの面を作ったり、友達と歌を歌ったり、駐車場でバドミントンをしたりして、子供たちが楽しく遊ぶ場でもありました。

一茶は念仏に生かされていた人でした。念仏に生かされるということは親鸞聖人の言葉に次のように表されています。

男女貴賤ことごとく 弥陀の名号称するに
行住座臥もえらばれず 時処諸縁もさはりなし
(『浄土真宗聖典 註釈版』 594頁)

念仏に生かされるということは日常生活から離れることなく、毎日の仕事と遊びの中で仏様の智慧の光に照らされていることに気づくことを意味します。9月17日のお参りでは、サマー寺子屋の子供たちがお勤めを担当し、寺子屋の思い出を発表してもらう予定ですので、是非ご一緒にお参りください。

南無阿弥陀仏


Cicadas

As summer draws to an end and we prepare to welcome the change of seasons with our Autumn Ohigan service on September 24 at 9:30 a.m., I have been enjoying the following haiku by the Japanese poet Issa (1763-1827) that captures the atmosphere of our temple in recent weeks:

Kobōzu ya
tamoto no naka no
semi no koe.

Little monk, I hear the cicada in the sleeve of your robe.

Buddhist Temples have long played an important role in children’s education in Japan. Today many temples run preschools and kindergartens that are attended by local children. In Issa’s day, it was not uncommon for children whose families were not able to provide for them to be placed in the care of a Buddhist temple, where they received education and underwent religious training. Issa himself was devoted to the Jodo Shinshu Nembutsu tradition, in which most temples are run by families, with children being brought up from an early age to help out with religious services.

The call of cicadas is a constant refrain to late summer life in Japan. These large and vocal insects are fascinating creatures, and catching them and keeping them as pets has been a favorite entertainment of Japanese children for centuries. This poem tells us that the children Issa knew who had entered Buddhist life at an early age had fun and played just like other children. Buddhist temples in Issa’s day were places for serious religious practice, but the life of many temples was also punctuated with the joy and playfulness of childhood. The young monks at the temple learned to chant and studied the sutras, but they also caught cicadas and carried them around in the sleeves of their robes.

In addition to children who ordained and lived the monastic life from a young age, there were children who lived with their families but regularly went to a Buddhist temple to learn to read, write and calculate with an abacus. These early education programs conducted by temples were called terakoya. At the San Mateo Buddhist Temple, we model our Summer Terakoya program after the terakoya that have played such an important role in the education and spiritual growth of Buddhist children for generations in Japan.

During our Summer Terakoya, the participants took turns leading sutra chanting in the Hondo and the recitation of the Six Paramitas (giving, discipline, patience, endeavor, meditation and wisdom), the six key virtues that serve as the cornerstone of Mahayana Buddhist life. While Summer Terakoya is a place for children grades 1 to 9 to learn Buddhist traditions and deepen their understanding of the Dharma, it is also a place to play badminton in the parking lot, design a silly hyottoko mask, and sing songs with friends.

Issa lived in the Nembutsu, a Buddhist way of living that permeates our lives and was encouraged by Shinran in the following words:

For all people – men and women, of high station and low –
Saying the Name of Amida is such
That whether one is walking, standing, sitting, or reclining is of no concern
And time, place, and condition are not restricted.

(Collected Works of Shinran, p. 385)

In the Nembutsu, we find that rather than abandoning our daily activities to pursue an ideal of Buddhist practice, our lives are transformed such that we encounter the boundless wisdom and compassion of the Buddha in our everyday activities of work and play. If you’d like to learn more about how our Terakoya youth experienced the joy of the Nembutsu during their time at the temple this summer, please join us for service on Sunday, September 17, when the Terakoya participants will be leading service and talking about their experiences.

Namo Amida Butsu