Rev. Brian Kensho Nagata
After living on this earth for nearly 70 years, I realize that there are countless things in life for which I should be truly grateful....
Unfortunately, I was not born smart, talented or innovative...BUT I am MOST grateful for being a fool, ignorant and hopeless....
How many other spiritual paths will be totally honest and call you a FOOL? Or how many will tell you straight to your face that you are HOPELESS and IGNORANT???
To be quite honest, I don’t think the Nembutsu Path will ever catch on in mainstream America? Let’s be honest, we Americans don’t like to be called FOOLS, nor do we like to be considered HOPELESS or IGNORANT. We are the most powerful and the richest nation on earth---how can you call us foolish and hopeless?
But that’s exactly what I am....I am an American fool that is totally hopeless....
I am totally consumed by my ego, I am the most important person in my life, I am the ONLY person I really and truly love. Next to Buddha or God, I am the next most valuable being in this universe! MY existence is all about ME, ME, ME..... even the Buddha tells me, just be concerned about YOURSELF and no one else... I am THE most important person on this earth!
We pretend to being grateful BUT it’s typically ONLY when someone does something for me OR if something is done for MY benefit that I feel the sense of being “grateful”----BUT how pathetic I am that even my gratefulness is false!!! How hopeless!! I was not grateful when I caught covid. I would not be grateful if I got into a terrible argument with my partner or best friend. I most certainly wouldn’t be grateful if my house burned down or I got beaten up and robbed.
The human feeling of being grateful ONLY arises within ME if something beneficial is directed BACK to me....I am ONLY grateful if something is to MY benefit....boy, that’s a true fool, really hopeless...Me, me, me....
Giving an unhoused individual one dollar certainly makes me feel good, it engages my ego and inflates my sense of self-worth BUT what can you buy nowadays for a dollar? My sacrificing a dollar make me feel like I am saving the world, my great sacrifice of a dollar is equal to the action of a Bodhisattva. What a fool I am...
Did you ever wonder how God or whatever karmic circumstances created human beings crafted such a wonderful and complex creature? How is it that our body was created with 60,000 miles of intertwined blood vessels to keep our blood flowing, supplying our tissues with oxygen and nutrients, and keeping our vital organs, especially our heart and brain healthy?
However, why is it that our human existence from the moment of birth to the moment of death is totally consumed by greed, anger and ignorance? Why couldn’t humans have been created without greed? Why couldn’t we have been molded without anger? And most certainly, why are humans full of ignorance and blind passions?
Does the pine tree in my front yard have anger? Do the twinkling stars have greed? Are ants full of ignorance and blind passions? Each of these things were created by God or through karmic
2,600 years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha broke through the binds of human constraints and realized perfect freedom. 800 years ago, a revolutionary priest named Shinran called things as they are----he wasn’t afraid to say humans are basically hopeless, foolish beings, bound and gagged by their endless egos.
For most of us hopeless ones, it won’t be until that final breath, that final heartbeat that results in the strangulation of the ego that we are finally freed of the binds of ignorance, anger and greed.
And it is at that moment, that this foolish being, this hopeless Brian will be embraced by Namo Amida Butsu forever more.
But if it weren’t for my lifelong existence of being totally consumed in the flames of ignorance and hopelessness, there would not have been any need for the Amida Buddha to have made His promise for me, for the hopelessly ignorant Brian.
In some human paths, humans feel a necessity to ask for forgiveness from a Supreme Being for wrongs they have committed in ignorance and foolishness, but how lucky I am that the Buddha realizes my hopelessness, my ignorance and all He asks of me is to entrust myself in His Promise. He requires no confession or apology of one’s ignorance.
If I wasn’t ignorant, if I wasn’t foolish, there would be no need for His Promise, but how lucky I am.....being a loser, being ignorant, being hopeless and a fool is my most wonderful blessing beyond human comprehension.....
The Nembutsu Path is truly for the foolish, the ignorant and the hopeless of this world....what a magnificent gift!
Namo Amida Butsu
Rev. Brian Kensho Nagata