6996 Ontario Rd
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
PO Box 1755
Pismo Beach, CA 93448
San Luis Obispo
Minister: Rev. Naomi Seijo Nakano
Even if I should be subjected to
All kinds of suffering and torment,
Continuing m practice undeterred,
I would endure it and never have any regrets.
Excerpt from gatha, Sanbutsuge
Yet another tragedy has occurred. On June 17, 2015 a young man of 21 or so years of age opened fire on a bible study class in South Carolina, killing 9 people including their pastor. This church was and still is known for their welcoming spirit to all people. It is a congregation that opens its doors, regardless of color, age, gender or economic status. This tragedy affects not only the families but also indirectly affects us. In a minute way, we are interconnected to these people and event.
It was very touching to hear from the family of these victims in “forgiveness” to this young man, at his bond hearing. The families were and still are all in a state of shock, however they were able to find compassion for this young man. Their entrusting in their teachings is so strong that they are able to find compassion in their hearts for this man-child. I say child because he is a lost and disillusioned person, who seemed to believe this was a method of attention. But I do question “why” the young man’s father purchased a gun for him for his 21st birthday.
The victims’ families saw a broken child because of his drug problem, not fitting in with his peers or not having a real direction in his life. This young man has also brought much tragedy to his family and parents. I am not a very good Buddhist for I am in limbo about compassion for this young man. However I do share my Nembutsu with sympathy and condolences to the family of the victims. It was a senseless shooting and tragedy, because this young man thought of only color, ethnicity, prejudice or whatever one wants to call it.
We all have our prejudices. I grew up witnessing how alcohol, drugs and gambling destroyed lives and families. I saw people drinking in the back of my father’s café and their death or lying in the doorstep of buildings and starvation. Their addictions took over their profession, and their lives. They did not realize the harm and hurt they created for others. It is truly a deep reflection on human frailty.
Yet it is easy for me to write about such things because I do not live in those conditions. It is the teachings of patience, mindfulness, compassion and wisdom that we as Buddhist try to incorporate in our lives. Through Amida Buddha’s wisdom and compassion we are guided and directed, We find a sensibility that we can try to live by. These are very easy concept to hear, yet very difficult to practice and incorporate in our lives.
This is a difficult article to write because it affects me as a human being and minister. It has “hit close to home”. We gather every Sunday, and for a while leave the outside world” and when we hear news of such tragedy it comes as a shock. We rely on Nembutsu, however we also have to be aware of what lies beyond our comfort zone. We must teach our younger generation respect, inner peace and harmony, not only internally but also to the outside world.
As the Fourth of July approaches, may it be safe, in gratitude and joyful. We share our Namu Amida Butsu with sincere heart and mind.
Gassho Rev. Naomi Seijo Nakano