The World Buddhist Women’s Conference tour has come to an end. Some members of the group returned home immediately after it ended. Some will remained for a few more days in Kyoto or in Tokyo.
Our travels took us from Tokyo, among the world’s most populous cities, to Shimane prefecture, one of the least populated prefectures in Japan. Green hills and fields merge with pockets of buildings and homes. From the brackish lakes shijimi clams have been harvested for centuries. The clams are often served in miso shiru. Very delicious.
We came to Shimane to visit the temple of Mikame sensei’s family which was established three hundred sixty years ago. Deep in the hills of Sambecho in what is now a state park is the village of Oda. Sambe refers to the three conical mountains nearby. The characters for sambe are the same characters for Mikame. The Mikame family has shared the life of nembutsu here for nearly four centuries.
Shinshu is the largest Buddhist tradition in Japan. There are temples that have thousands of members. Many more thousands of temple are found in towns and villages across Japan. Such temples are an integral part of their communities. Sometimes providing leadership always guiding members through example a life of gratitude and kindness. When we arrived at Tokuzenji, Mikame sensei’s family temple, we were welcomed as friends of an extended community that reached to over 5,000 miles away. As we read Shoshinge together and later enjoyed a special bento prepared by the family and friends of Tokuzenji the life we share became easier to recognize and appreciate.
The nembutsu life of gratitude and kindness is not a practice, it is the result of recognizing our own shortcomings and the compassion that continues to support us as we are. Infinite life and immeasurable light are abstract ideas that are expressed in everyday life when we are mindful and attentive to our actions and the kindness we receive.