As the end of the year approaches, I find myself reflecting on the past year. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic our lives have been drastically altered. I can’t wait until a vaccine is widely available. Hoping 2021 brings us good news.
When I was looking through my Dharma School bag, I came across a book that was written by Monshu Kojun Ohtani (the head priest of Nishi Hongwanji.) The book is called Moving Forward Just As You Are – Living in These Uncertain Times.
I would like to share an excerpt from the book with you.
When faced with what seem to be insurmountable personal problems, we can overcome these ordeals by remembering that we are not alone.
I believe the reason why we are able to cope with our anxieties and sorrows is because we are not alone. We are able to live by supporting one another through our connections with each other. I myself, have special bonds with those around me. That is why I always feel that we should not ever leave alone those who are left in solitude.
In Japan, people often used to say, “okagesamade ‘thanks to everyone and everything’” or “otagaisama ‘we are in this together.’” When something good would happen to a person, he/she would say “okagesamade,” not forgetting to give appreciation to the other person. When something bad would happen, people would say to each other “otagaisama” in order to express solidarity in identifying with each other’s struggles. These people understood the idea that “Being on my own, I am not a complete person,” that without the support of each other, we cannot live. That is precisely why these words naturally came about.
This passage really touched my heart in many ways. After the loss of my father-in-law, I realized how much he contributed to my family’s life. “Okagesamade” we are able to live a wonderful life together. I am also thankful to all my family and friends. Without all of them, my life would be empty. There are so many things I am thankful for.
Okagesamade – Arigatougozaimasu
I know that it is difficult for young children to understand “okagesamade.”
A simple way to convey this message is through food. A lesson from the “Buddha is our Teacher” book – page 36-37, teaches the students that all lives are interconnected. Meat and fish used to be living beings before they ended up on our plates. Even fruit and vegetables were alive. We probably don’t even think about the fact that we are receiving life from our food. “Okagesamade” we are able to eat nutritious foods and stay healthy. We hope that all children take a moment to “thank” the other living beings for providing a life line for them.
Namu Amida Butsu