First, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who prepared and attended the welcome party for my parents’ visit at the end of July. We were very happy to see all of you at the service and party!
We are able to live a convenient life thanks to the development of technology and a longer and healthier life thanks to good medicine and the study of the disease. We should have a better life than before, nevertheless, there are still many factors that bind our lives and make us feel cramped. What is that for you?
I would say that one factor could be the tight time limitations that we have in our human society. We live in a modern society where we are pressed with various deadlines every day such as work deadlines and personal deadlines. The end of the fiscal year or tax season are particularly hectic times. Many of us are probably looking at our calendars and thinking, “I have to do this by when?” This could be felt by everyone who has worked for a company or studied at school. When I was a student, I was not very good at meeting homework deadlines sometimes, which annoyed my teachers sometimes, but not always. We know what we have to do, but so why don’t we start working on it as soon as possible? In my case it is because it is hard for me to get excited about doing the heavy lifting until the deadline is near. Growing up, there are still countless deadlines in my life. I have a monthly deadline for articles for our temple’s newsletter and I always try to start early in order to meet the deadline. You are reading this article, which means I met the deadline. I did it!
Having “deadline” means “to bring a thing to an end, in particular, to terminate the handling of affairs, etc., by setting a deadline or time limit.”
In other words, it means to put a condition on the time for something to be done. Our society is built on such promises. Human beings cannot live alone. Whether directly or indirectly, we are all connected to someone and live in relationships with someone else. In order for two or more people to get together and do something, a commitment is necessary. In today’s society, the world cannot move forward unless we meet each other’s deadlines. However, deadlines do not meet my convenience.
I have to meet the deadline. Deadlines are necessary as commitments to make our lives better and smoother, but we all find ourselves caught up in the rush to meet some deadline, always asking ourselves, “When is the deadline for this?” We spend our time being swamped by lack of time, always saying, “I can’t finish this by the deadline.” This can be very stressful at times. Especially nowadays, we can easily manage everything with the online stuff and smartphones. We are able to do more things than in the past, and after all everyone has become more greedy. This has led to an increase in deadlines, and a pervasive contradiction in which the convenience of the world causes us to suffer.
Life has become more convenient, and at the same time we are driven by time. Everything goes at a fast speed, and we have to catch up with it. If we can’t make it, we might not be able to survive in this society and may be abandoned by someone else. If you are in a difficult situation, you might be able to ask your friends or coworkers for their help. But they don’t always come and help us because they have their own deadlines and things to do on their side. We are living in such a lonely world that separates us from things and people in a short span of time.
It is precisely because we live in such an era that we need a place to be able to liberate ourselves from the life that is limited by time and rely ourselves on something that is not limited by time or anything.
A presence that says, “ I’m always by your side.” Such a presence and heart with limitless compassion are what we need in this world full of limitations.
Amida is such a Buddha of enlightenment.
“Amida” is an old Sanskrit word meaning “the Buddha of infinite light and life.” Amida is the Buddha does not have deadlines and the one going beyond any limitation of either time or space. So, Namo Amida Butsu is a calling from the Buddha to tell us that “You will never be left alone at any time.” Even those who have passed away are always with us included in the same wisdom and compassion of Amida.
We are all driven by deadlines, but what if, on the other hand, there were no deadlines? If there were no deadlines, people would never do anything. If we are told that we can do something anytime we want, we may not end up doing something we don’t want to do forever… Life is like that, too.
We tend to be indifferent to important things unless they are related to our own gain or loss.
If I ask you “Let’s listen to Amida’s wish, which is the most important place to rely on in life,” my attitude is to put it off, saying, “I’ll listen to it someday.” But, what if the tomorrow never comes or even the next moment? It is Shinran who sees through this attitude and recommends, “Let’s listen to Amida’s wish together now.”