Dhammapada, a collection of verses of Shakyamuni Buddha
Worshippers Giving Offerings to the Bodhi TreeSouthern Ināda, Andhra Pradesh, Amaravati, Satavahana Period (c. 100 BC – AD 200) - Cleveland Museum of Art
They’re addicted to heedlessness – dullards, fools – while one who is wise cherishes heedfulness as his highest wealth
Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis
Stephan Pastis’ creation, Pearls Before Swine, is a caricature of our different human qualities and traits expressed through his anthropomorphic animals. You have to admire the cartoonist’s skill - using few words and a few frames of drawing to target of our bonbu selves with gentle humor, humor that may help us be more heedful.
Lint, who thinks of lint? It’s more of a nuisance, having to clean out the lint filter each time the dryer is used. But Rat is on target when he says “…your clothing stolen piece-by-piece by your dryer.”
No one argues the obvious - lint on the dryer screen used to be bits of our clothing. Imperceptible bits, bits we don’t even notice or think about. Then, one day, a favorite shirt doesn’t look so good anymore. The “good” ended up as lint on the screen. And as ridiculous as Pig is in the last frame, there is no way to get it back, there is no redo, and there is no reclaiming what time and life changed.
Maybe that is the point of the Dhammapada reading on Heedfulness. Heedfulness is different from being aware. We don’t have to worry about being heedful of the big things in life like a move to another city, the purchase of a house, the death of a loved one. We have no choice on those – they hit us in a way that can’t be avoided. They’re the “high alert” of heedfulness.
Heedful is more about being alert and attentive, about being on guard - about being on guard for the small seemingly inconsequential things. Just like a small raised lip on a sidewalk catches the toe of our shoe and we take a fall. It’s the small things that really trip us up over time, little by little. We think “oh, it’s no big deal,” or we blast our car horn when the driver ahead doesn’t move as soon as the light turns green, or feeling righteous dismay, frustration or anger at those who don’t think the way they “should” about politics or Chicago vs. New York City pizza.
Can we really be addicted to heedlessness? I know I am. This was a major topic for Shakyamuni Buddha. In fact, a word search in literature shows this term was used quite a bit until the 20th century. It took a nose dive in the 21st century. This isn’t something we think about as a society or as individuals. Is it easy to be heedful? I think it is really hard, for most of us.
This is when “awareness” kicks in. I can at least practice to be aware I am not being heedful -even after the fact. Is it different for each of us? Yes, since we each come with our own causes and conditions. Is it easy to live of life of compassion, wisdom and gratitude? Again, not really. We live in this day to day world of lay people, householders as Shinran Shōnin would say. We have a million things to do and don’t have time enough.
This rare gift of life as a human, a gift we want to live with compassion, wisdom and gratitude, is time limited. Paying attention, being heedful is, as the Buddha says, our “highest wealth.” And maybe, when that day comes, we may not have to wake up to find we only have a shirt of lint to wear.
Excerpts of Buddhist voices across teachings, across contients, across time.
The Primal Vow – Hongwan
by Rev. Ryuta Furumoto, Senshin Buddhist Temple
Number Eighteen is the Best Number
If you are an athlete, what number would you like on your uniform? 23, 24, 32, or 10? You would probably want the same number as your favorite star athlete’s, wishing to be like him or her. But for Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, Number 18 is the best number to put on the uniform. The number eighteen is the number of the most important vow of Amida Buddha, which is called the Primal Vow, or Hongwan, in Japanese.
Shinran Shōnin’s teacher, Hōnen Shonin, call the Primal Vow the “King Primal Vow,” or “the Selected Primal Vow.” This special vow assures your birth in the Pure Land. Shinran Shonin also stated, “once you are grasped by Amida, you will never be abandoned.” In sports, if you make a terrible mistake, coaches, teammates and fans abandoned you. It is often said “Yesterday’s winner is today’s loser,” but in Jodo Shinshu no matter what you do you will never be abandoned by Amida Buddha. Star players, normal players, bench players, retired players, and quitters are always accepted without any distinction.
Anyone Can Be Accepted By Amida Buddha
The Primal Vow does not discriminate. Regardless of differences in ability, skin color, nationality, gender, age, language, culture, social status, wealth, etc., anyone can attain Buddhahood by the power of the Eighteenth Vow. Since that vow suggests the realization of the equality of all beings, it is sometimes interpreted as the true and primal wish that all beings share in the deepest part of the heart and mind.
The 43 Vows of Amida Buddha
in the traditional understanding, the Eighteenth Vow is expressed as Amida Buddha’s (or Dharmakara Bodhisattva’s) Primal Vow that promises that all beings be born in the Pure Land. In “The Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life,” it is taught that when Amida Buddha was in the stage of bodhisattvahood and was called Dharmakaya, he established 48 vows in order to liberate all beings from the state of suffering. After taking myriads of ages to complete practices to fulfill the vows, Dharmakaya Bodhisattva became Amida Buddha and created the Pure Land, were all beings could be liberated.
The 18th Vow
Among the 48 vows, most of the vows mention characteristics of the Pure Land, such as divine abilities of bodhisattvas, devas, and people in the Pure Land. But the 18th
Vow states the method by which people can attain birth in The Pure Land. This is the reason eminent Pure Land masters and Shinran Shonin focused on the 18th
vow. It reads:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings of the ten quarters, with sincere mind and entrusting themselves, aspiring to be born in my land, and saying my Name perhaps even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment. Excluded are those who commit the five great offenses and those who slander the Dharma. (CWS vol. 1, p. 80)
In summary, this vow refers to the recitation of Namoamidabutsu and the threefold mind (sincere, mind, and entrusting, and aspiration to be born in the Pure Land), which is expressed as Shinjin, awakening, and entrusting or faith. This is an easy practice for anyone. Rich or poor, foolish or wise, monk or lay, good or bad, young or old, anyone can recite Namoamidabutsu and equally be born in the Pure Land. The trust of the sentient being is changeable; hence Amida Buddha transfers Shinjin to practitioner, thus assuring birth in the Pure Land.
The Primal Vow is the core of the teaching of Jodo Shinshu; therefore the main temple of our denomination in Kyoto is named the Hongwanji, the Temple of the Primal Vow. As Jodo Shinshu Buddhists, listening to the meaning of the Hongwan is crucial.… And even if you cannot have number 18 as your uniform number, don’t worry about it. From the Buddha’s side, the 18th Vow power is always reaching to you. You are grasped and never abandoned.
INTRODUCTION TO SHIN BUDDHISM – VIRTUAL CLASS – 8 Sessions May and June
Rev. Ron Miyamura will conduct his popular Introduction to Buddhism class in a “virtual” format.
When: Classes will be held via ZOOM on successive Wednesdays – May 5, 12, 19 & 26, June 2, 9, 16 & 23 at 7:00 pm.
Cost: There is no cost for the class and all are welcome to participate. If, however, you’d like to make a donation we suggest $30 for the 8 sessions (click to make a donation).
Registration: To register please contact the Temple office via email at email@example.com or you can contact Rev. Ron directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. A new Zoom link will be issued weekly to registered participants.