Rissho Kosei-kai
Buddhist Center of New York

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320 East 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
(39th St bet. 1st Ave & 2nd Ave.)
212- 867-5677
Fax: 212-697-6499

 

Minister's Message

Issue May 2017

 Feeling the Buddha in the workings of nature…..

On the morning after my arrival for a temporary visit home, I saw that the Sal Tree in my garden, having weathered the winter and shed all its leaves, was still totally bare. I spontaneously called out, saying, “Spring is already in full bloom! Please realize this soon!”

The very next morning, some tiny, very tiny, leaf buds were starting to appear on the edge of the branches. And the following morning, as if to acknowledge my call, soft yellowish green leaves opened their faces to peek out…

“Sal tree, you’re amazing! Thank you.”

Five days have passed since then. It is magnificent to see the yellowish green leaves grow amazingly larger day-to-day. Also known as the Summer Camellia, the Sal Tree will henceforward have thick green leaves and by early summer, bear trim and beautiful white flowers.

 

The other day, NASA made a momentous announcement suggesting new evidence of “alien life” on Satellite Enceladus of the planet Saturn. It announced that there may be life-supporting conditions present; this information caused quite a stir.The thought that there may be as-yet-unseen life is pretty exciting, isn’t it?The female newscasters on the program covering this topic were happily talking, filled with dreams about the unknown world saying, “Do space aliens exist?...” During this conversation, the idea was also discussed that if aliens are out there, “We would be the earth family”.So, if life-forms exist on a planet beyond the earth, then there could also be a Saturn family, or a Mars family.This is developing into a spectacular story. But first, let us focus on those of us who live on earth.

 

“The earth family.” That is so true. We, who are fellow riders on this spaceship earth, are part of the one great life force. And we have been given the one irreplaceable life on “this miraculous star・earth.” Moreover, this existence is a mysterious and precious life generated from infinite interrelations in the universe and causations immeasurable by human knowledge. So we are taught…

 

However, I think we all experience times in our daily lives that no matter what we do, things do not go as well as we wish.For example, when you experience trouble with family relations, anxiety over an evaluation at the workplace, or a breakdown in a relationship with a friend, do you ever feel like abandoning everything? Was your heart ever broken so badly that you just wanted to escape? Have you ever felt like you just didn’t care anymore, and then acted irresponsibly?

 

I once read a book for psychological counselors, in which the following was mentioned.Does everyone know about the “broken window theory”? This is a famous theory that was used when the New York Subway System was made safer for a better quality of life.“Broken windows” is literally translated as “window that is broken (wareta mado).”If we leave a car somewhere with a broken window, it would be viewed as something “that can be treated carelessly and irresponsibly.” That car would gradually be vandalized and the nearby area would eventually become unsafe. That is the theory.

For the New York Subway System, this theory was taken as a lesson and authorities did the exact opposite. That is, they thoroughly cleaned the graffiti and trash. By promoting the conscious thought, “We need to use this place responsibly with care,” it had become a safer place.

 

When I read this book, I thought of how this theory and the workings of our heart and mind, can be said to be the same. When everything becomes unmanageable and falls apart in our lives, we are apt to think that nothing matters at all.

That is, we ourselves become the “broken windows.” Then, with the thought that “it’s already broken anyway,” we neglect ourselves and become irresponsible. We eventually change to become a “irresponsible, useless self.”

We hope to have the courage to stand still for a moment and reflect; to become clearly aware that we are a Buddha’s child.

We need to believe that we have been given the nature of the Buddha (buddha nature) precisely because we are the Buddha’s child. Each of our lives has a precious existence that surpasses anything in this universe, this world. Please acknowledge and become aware of your own great effort, and that you are trying to do your best to the point of becoming heartbroken.

 

The Sal Tree truly stole my heart and I felt the Buddha in the workings of nature. I also experienced a moment when I felt the oneness of Buddha’s life and my own.

Wouldn’t you also like to enjoy what the spring season offers? Let us all sing praises to spring.Gassho

 

New York Center Minister

Etsuko Fujita

 
 

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Rissho Kosei-kai New York Center for Engaged Buddhism