Buddhism teaches that our life is absolutely dependent upon the caring and understanding of other people, that human life is fundamentally not possible without other people laboring unseen on our behalf and unsustainable without animals and plants giving up their life energy so that we may live. Without the blessings of the `aina (Mother Earth, Nature, the land, sea, and air), all that we have and all that we are would not have come into existence.
Awakening to the Truth of the interconnected nature of all life, the Reality of our total dependence upon other beings, is the first step in accepting other people just as they are—regardless of age, skin color, education, wealth, poverty, material possessions, position, political beliefs, religion, atheism, spiritual path, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Awakening to the Truth frees our fundamentally self-centered heart-minds to assume unconditional responsibility for the welfare of our fellow human beings, animals, plants, and the Earth that sustains all life—the first step in letting Aloha into our hearts, and truly living Aloha each moment of every day.
When we see all life and all people as our `ohana family, our anger, greed, and delusions fade into the background, empowering us to feel mahalo, a profound gratitude precisely because we are not worthy of such blessings, such caring and understanding, such kind and gentle consideration from others in our lives.
In the Hongwanji tradition, we cannot help but put our hands together in gassho-anjali, bow our heads, and say Namo Amida Butsu, taking refuge in the Buddha Amida, the Buddha of all-inclusive Compassion and all-encompassing Wisdom.
You don’t have to believe anything, give up anything, or change who you are to benefit from the Teachings of Buddhism but it is your choice to take, or not take, the first step.
You can wait until tomorrow but be mindful of the impermanent nature of all things in this unrepeatable life.
The heart set upon tomorrow,
how like cherry blossoms
blown away at night
in a sudden storm
—Shinran, founder of Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, age 9
May your day be filled with Aloha, Mahalo, and `Ohana!