Living beings are limitless, I vow to liberate them all.
Blind passions are limitless, I vow to sever them all.
Dharma gates are inexhaustible, I vow to know them all.
Unsurpassed is awakening, I vow to realize it.
Commentary from Genshin’s Ojoyoshu, Section on the Correct Practice of the Nembutsu
To begin with, the manifestation of practice is generally called the mind that vows to become a Buddha. It is also referred to as the mind that seeks the highest awakening while transforming living beings below. The manifestation of practice is also expressed as the Four Universal Vows.
These vows can be understood in two ways. The first way is to understand the Four Universal Vows as they arise from life situations. This is compassion conditioned by a feeling of sympathy for living beings, or compassion conditioned by an appreciation of the Dharma. The second way is to understand the Four Universal Vows as they arise from true reality. This is unconditioned compassion.
This month we reflect upon the following verse as it relates to our journey to the Other Shore of enlightenment:
The Name embodying the Primal Vow is the act of true settlement, The Vow of entrusting with sincere mind is the cause of birth; We realize the equal of enlightenment and supreme nirvana Through the fulfillment of the Vow of attaining nirvana without fail.
Each year during our Obon and Hatsubon Service, I am reminded of the power of the Buddhadharma to provide guidance and support for us as we navigate our feelings of grief. As school for my sons usually begins a few days after our San Mateo Buddhist Temple Obon Observance, I have come to associate our Obon with the end of summer. Opening the freezer at the temple to put away the Obon service manju for an occasion when we can all enjoy them together, I noticed three large bags of frozen hamburgers. I was suddenly reminded of the delicious hamburgers grilled at the temple picnic and all the experiences that we did not get to have this summer: bazaar—which marks the start of summer in my mind, the annual BWA service at the Japanese Cemetery in Colma, followed by brunch with BWA members at Denny’s in South San Francisco, a family trip to Japan, our summer Terakoya day camp, spam musubi at Obon Odori practices, and chanting together with a Hondo full of attendees at our Obon and Hatsubon service.