“A Mother’s Tears” Memorial Day Dharma Talk 2021

Rev. Kerry reflects upon the Dharma reality-as-it-is that Memorial Day begins and ends with “A Mother’s Tears”. Full text of the Dharma Talk is below the video.

This Dharma Talk was recorded LIVE FROM MAKAWAO! at Makawao Hongwanji Buddhist Temple on Maui on May 30, 2021.

Let us live happily then, hating none while in the midst of those who hate. 

Let us dwell free from hate while among those who hate.

Gautama Buddha, Dhammapada

Memorial Day weekend marks the traditional “beginning of Summer,” when kids have summer break, the weather turns warms, and the ‘ohana gathers together to feast around the BBQ, talk story, laugh, and simply enjoy being together.

Especially this year, 2021, as vaccination rates rise and hospitalization/death rates fall, there is a new sense of hope that we are moving in the right direction for managing COVID-19. 

Sooner, rather than later, we look forward to restarting full in-person activity at Makawao Hongwanji, including religious services and observances, sharing the Dharma experience, and community-building as Buddhist “practice.”

Thus, we have even greater reason to “celebrate” Memorial Day in 2021!

Let’s all stay on guard, be safe, and live aloha this weekend.

As Buddhists, Memorial Day is a wonderful opportunity tolisten to the Dharma, tohear the Dharma, and to make the Dharma your own “great torch in the dark night of ignorance” in this Samsara world of confusion and delusion.

As Buddhists in the Hongwanji tradition, we often refer to “reality-as-it-is” as opposed to “reality-as-My-Ego-wants-it-to-be” — this is Awakening, Enlightenment, Becoming Buddha.

Thus, Memorial Day Weekend, “party time, whooya!”, is “reality-as-My-Ego-wants-it-to-be”…and yes we all deserve to have some fun after a year of great change!

But, when we pause for a moment to reflect upon reality-as-it-is, we realize—awaken to—the deeper and profound meaning of Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is a somber and solemn occasion when we remember “when Jiro didn’t come marching home again…” 

Memorial Day is to honor the fallen, the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunties that marched off to war, and didn’t come marching home again.

Memorial Day is when we must awaken to the reality-as-it-is that Memorial Day begins with a mother’s tears.

Rev. Gensho Hara, resident minister of the Lahaina Jodo Mission and one of the longest-serving Japanese Buddhist ministers in Maui, shares the story of how the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Makawao Veterans Cemetery, which is now a large ceremonial occasion, actually began with a Japanese immigrant mother’s tears.

The story is universal. It is a story of “a mother’s tears”…

A son or daughter marches off to war, a mother’s tears.

A son or daughter marches home again, a mother’s tears.

A son or daughter does not march home again, a mother’s tears.

This experience is shared by all parents of sons and daughters that march off to war; and by brothers and sisters, uncles and aunties, cousins, and the ‘Ohana of life.

Shakyamuni Buddha taught that being born human, one of the greatest sufferings in life is the loss of a loved one. 

The pain, grief, sorrow of bereavement comes to all people without discrimination because all things arising from causes and conditions, including ourselves, eventually and inevitably cease to exist.

Thus, Memorial Day serves to remind us as Buddhists of the Truth of Impermanence, the Dharma reality-as-it-is, applies to all things, all people, without exception.

When we “listen to and hear” the deeper meaning and significance of Memorial Day, we pause for a moment to reflect, remember, and express our shared sadness for those mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, cousins, friends, community, the great ‘ohana of life, who lost a loved one to war.

Tomorrow, Memorial Day 2021, when you see an American flag, pause for a moment and reflect upon the Dharma, the reality-as-it-is, that you, of all people, are embraced by Great Compassion and your path in life is illuminated by the Light of Infinite Wisdom, that Namo Amida Butsu, Amida, is working in your life, right here, right now.

Namo Amida Butsu!

How sad, when we reflect upon Memorial Day as beginning and ending with a mother’s tears.

Namo Amida Butsu!

How grateful, when we remember the sacrifice of others so that we may live today.

Namo Amida Butsu!

How joyful, when we realize that this moment of this unrepeatable life is given to us!

Namo Amida Butsu!

This Memorial Day weekend, please take a moment to remember a mother’s tears…

Namo Amida Butsu!

Now, let’s fire up the BBQ! Please be safe out there!

The essence of Shin Buddhism is gratefully receiving the Faith of Shinjin through the working of Amida’s Great Compassion and Infinite Wisdom in our lives in every moment of each day of this unrepeatable life!

Then, in gratitude, we put our hands together, bow our heads, and say Namo Amida Butsu!

Just Say It. Namo Amida Butsu

Just Say Mahalo.

Mahalo for joining us this morning.

May your day be filled with aloha!

Namo Amida Butsu!

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