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White Path Message by Rev. Yugo Fujita for September 2018

Dear Temple Members:

I hope you are doing well with the light of Amida Buddha.

This month, I would like to share some thoughts about the term “foolish being” which we often hear in Jodo Shinshu. 

When I first arrived in the US, I was always making mistakes when speaking English. Let me tell you about an early experience I had at Starbucks. 

I like coffee very much but one time, I wanted to try something new.   The guy taking the orders asked me “What can I get for you?”  and I said, “tall latte” and he said, “Got it.”   

So, I was really looking forward to getting a tall latte.  I was waiting in front at the pick-up counter and then he called out my name “Hugo,” and he gave me two tall cups filled with latte.  I told him, “I ordered only one tall latte”, but he responded back “I do not think so, but you can keep both of them.” Apparently, my “tall” sounded like “two” to him. 

I said, “Thank you!” and took the two cups of tall latte and of course, I didn’t want to be wasteful, so I drank both tall lattes!  But sure enough, a little while after that, I got a bad stomach ache. 

After my stomach ache, I was wondering and thinking how come this happened?    I thought maybe it was my poor pronunciation?

I then realized that I was probably making a mistake without even thinking sometimes. I think most of you have probably had a similar experience in your lives? 

I’m sure this happens all the time for many people, especially for non-English speakers like me.  We may think we’re saying one thing, but the other person may hear something else. And this is how we spend much of our lives.  

Shinran Shonin stated in his “Notes on Once-Calling and Many-Calling”,  “we are full of ignorance and blind passion”. 

Our desires are countless, and anger, wrath, jealousy, and envy are overwhelming,arising without pause; to the very last moment of life and they do not cease, or disappear, or exhaust themselves.”

Sometimes you will hear the term “Foolish Beings” used in a Dharma Talk.  For English speaking people, I think this term is a wrong translation.  I think we should use the term “ordinary being.”

Each of us have our own each point of view and unique experiences and understanding of things. Everybody is the same in that we are all different.  Being different is being an “ordinary being.” 

Amida Buddha looks after all ordinary beings, every one of us is embraced by the Buddha.   He does not look after just sacred or special people.   When I learned of this teaching, I realized that I would like to be more tolerant of others. We are all special and ordinary beings at the same time, and Amida Buddha watches over all of us.

Namo Amida Butsu.