Happy New Year
G Sakamoto and Family

A year has passed and a new year begins. It’s a time of celebration and of reflection. We may have had important experiences in this past year, experiences that change the way we think about ourselves and the world. There are many experiences to consider as we think about and engage the world around us.

Buddhism encourages us to see the world as it is. Seeing the world through our preferences can offer opportunities for difficulties to arise. To see the world as it is, is difficult to do. Fortunately, in Jodo Shinshu, although we may not be able to cultivate the mind that sees things as they are we are still assure as we are of the eventual resolution of difficulties. Acknowledging the importance of that assurance we try to live our lives in gratitude.

Looking at the world it’s hard not to disagree with someone about something. Sometimes disagreeing with someone may be influenced by events unrelated to the person or discussion. You may have experienced something disagreeable earlier, maybe even forgotten about what you experienced that is now influencing how you are engaging the world. I find myself being disagreeable, often not truly recognizing the cause of my disagreeableness.

In Jodo Shinshu we recognize this behavior in ourselves. We also realize that the compassion of Amida includes me with all my imperfections. Understanding this, my life can be changed into a life of gratitude. However as grateful as I am for the compassion of Amida, my life of gratitude might hide the consequences of my behavior. What happens to those who I have injured and those who have injured me. They too are certainly contained within the compassion of Amida. Yet they may continue to suffer from experiences caused by me. I may be able to apologize for my actions but when I am harmed by another I think to forgive may be a way forward for healing. Although, receiving forgiveness can be a profound experience, those who we have harmed may be unwilling or unable to forgive. However, practicing forgiveness of those who may have caused me harm is something I can do that may ease the suffering of another.

In this world of samsara there are many great perils in forgiving another. Our ego can assert itself in our forgiveness. It is inherent in the act of I forgive you. And yet it may also be a way of letting go of anger and self importance. To forgive another may require letting go of the I that has been injured and acknowledging what the other may be experiencing.

In this new year we will encounter many experiences that will offer us the opportunity to practice forgiveness. It is not necessarily expressed in words. But through kindness extended to those who we feel have caused us harm we set aside anger and affirm our shared humanity.

As always we are grateful for the support and kindness extended to our family.
Have a wonderful happy New Year.