“Peace of mind and Namo Amidabutsu!”

E Mikame

With Halloween coming up, I’ve had several oversea friends ask me questions about how the holiday is conducted in Japan. “Is it any different from how we do it?” they ask.

Long story short, the answer is “yes”.

The appeal of Halloween in Japan lies in two things: commercialism and costumes. Many fanatics of “cosplay” (costume play) find the idea of dressing up very appealing, and this is an especially popular mindset among those who go to Harajuku and the otaku (nerd) crowd in general.

Taking this into consideration, this means that Halloween in Japan ends up being mostly for adults who want to dress-up.

So, I am so excited to be able to experience the first authentic Halloween event here in America!

On Halloween, people dress up and say “trick or treat!” to ask for candy. I heard that the origin of the Halloween event comes from the ancient Pagan Harvest festivals to remember the dead. Although the original meaning of it might be far from what we do now, we enjoy the Halloween every year.

I imagined if Amida Buddha said “trick or Namo Amidabutsu-Say Namo Amidabutsu or you will get trick” to us like we have said on Halloween. I would be scared of him. If bad things happened to me, I might put the blame on Amida Buddha. And if I didn’t say Namo Amidabutsu, we might be abandoned by him. It would not be a good relationship between us but would rather be a threat. But his wish is always for each of us to just recite his name, Namo Amidabutsu and to give us peace of mind. I really appreciate that we all are fortunate that this is unconditional.

Not only on Halloween, but also in our human society, we live our lives by expecting something in return. That is just like saying “pay money or you won’t get any service” and “do homework or you won’t get any sweets”. In our world, we take it for granted to exchange those conditions with others and believe that they return something for it. And if you cannot fulfill conditions, we tend to blame others, like saying “he is a bad person.” and evaluate others like saying “she is a good person”. We tend to judge others by our standards. But, if we are in the opposite situation, we are also judged by others. Not only by others, we sometimes judge ourselves by our narrow perspectives and we torture ourselves.

We are all living in the world by asking and being asked with conditions from others, but we are fortunate to encounter Amida Buddha who never asks us for any conditions or any return and judges our lives in this world whenever, whoever and wherever you are. He always assures us that each of us are included in his great compassion even if we go against him. He cannot abandon us because we are suffering without being aware of the true way of seeing the world.

When you recite Namo Amidabutsu, we always receive his great gifts and he allows us to live our lives to the utmost with our peace of mind without any conditions in our lives.

As a Jodo Shinshu follower, I would like to enjoy the first Halloween in my life and express my deepest gratitude to Amida Buddha saying “Namo Amida Butsu”.