There is a discussion in my email regarding the repair of the Hondo roof. There are several tiles that are either broken or have come loose. The condition of the tiles could allow rain to get under and begin to cause damage to the sheeting under the tiles and eventually damage the Hondo.

A number of years ago the entire roof was repaired. The tiles were completely removed and the sheeting replaced. Then the unbroken and new tiles were returned. It was a huge undertaking. From that time we have some tiles left over that we can use to replace the current broken tiles. There is still a lot of planning. The lead person we’re working with to repair the roof worked on the Mountain View temple roof. Many years have passed since then so he will stay on the ground and direct the repair. It’s nice to know that he has done similar work before and appreciates the importance of this job. He was recommended to us by our project manager for the Dharma Center.

When I look at my email and see “Broken tiles” in the subject line I am reminded of the phrase, “bits of rubble into gold”. I am sure it would only be a Jodo Shinshu minister that would make that connection. Sometimes, broken tiles are used with rubble. This phrase is attributed to the Bodhisattva Dharmakara who transforms us foolish bombu into Buddha.

Jodo Shinshu is amazing in that way. It does not require you to be more than who you are. Many of our senior ministers use to use the Japanese word “sonomama” which means “just as you are”. We are made to become Buddha just as we are. This was of ultimate importance for Shinran who saw himself as someone incapable of becoming Buddha. Like the broken tile someone whose usefulness or potential was not apparent. This is the person who is the focus of Amida. The person least capable of cultivating the mind that simply sees things as they are. Free of prejudice.

Shinran expresses this in the the second chapter of the Tannisho:

“I have no idea whether the nembutsu is truly the seed for my being born in the Pure Land or whether it is the karmic act for which I must fall into hell. Should I have been deceived by Master Honen and, saying the nembutsu, fall into hell, even then I would have no regrets.

“The reason is, if I could attain Buddhahood by endeavoring in other practices, but said the nembutsu and so fell into hell, then I would feel regret at having been deceived. But I am incapable of any other practice so hell is decidedly my abode whatever I do.”

Perhaps my mind is the only place where this connection between actual broken Hondo roof tiles and Amida’s intent to transform the unenlightened into Buddha might occur. There is a Buddhist saying, “I am the very last unenlightened being.” With this mind, even a discussion of Hondo broken tiles can be a reflection on the compassion of Amida.