I hope this message finds you and your family, and temple sangha members stay safe and doing well in an unprecedented time, facing a global pandemic.
The closure of educational institutions, businesses, borders, and houses of worship has a direct impact on our quality of life. We have been asked to stay home, to avoid hugging or shaking hands, and to maintain a spatial distance. The shutdown impacts our spirituality. It’s common to feel anxious, stressed, confused, and isolated. At a time like this, how is it even possible to care for our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, occupational, environmental, and social well-being?
We can find strength in remembering that we are connected and interdependent. These days require resilience, the ability to sustain our purpose and our sense of self and direction. Despite the need to maintain physical distance, we can find strength in remembering that we are connected and interdependent. We can sustain our spiritual well-being by quietly sitting and hearing the calling voice of Namo Amida Butsu from Amida Buddha. We are all connected with the Buddha’s deep wish to have us go through this uneasy time which gives us hope, comfort, and safety.
Our founder, Shinran Shōnin, living through a couple of crisis times in epidemic, famine, and natural disasters in the 13th century in Japan, learned the Amida Buddha’s vow efficiency. That is the power of resilience to get over adversity. Shinran was totally distressed after descending from Mount Hiei but learning the beauty of Pure Land Buddhism from Honen gave him hope and encouragement to stand up again and continue working on the path of attaining Buddhahood. He realized that the Buddha’s Immeasurable Light guides him to the deep joy of living in the nembutsu and Buddha’s Immeasurable Compassion never abandons him anymore, even when he was exiled to Echigo (present Niigata Prefecture) from Kyoto because of the nembutsu prosecution.
Spiritual resilience supported by the Buddha’s wish to us leads to satisfaction, nourishment, and fulfillment. Building our spiritual health and resilience can enable us to encounter difficulties more effectively. Even in these difficult times, remember that you are not alone! Smile. Let us say the nembutsu, Namo Amida Butsu, together with the Buddha. May all beings be happy and seek to lighten the pain of others. I wish you all good health and safety and hope the things will get better soon.
Namo Amida Butsu
Rev. Dr. Mutsumi Wondra is resident minister of Jodoshinshu Hongwanjiha, Orange County Buddhist Church.