World of Samsara

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World of Samsara

2,600 some years ago the Buddha revealed to the world the Truth of the Dharma in what became known as the Four Noble Truths.  The Buddha cited the First Truth to be the world of dukkha often translated that the world is full of suffering. The literal meaning of dukkha is an off centered axel of a cart causing the un-smooth ride of the cart.  The analogy is clear here, our life is described as dukkha a bumpy ride as we move through life.  The Buddha explicated the eight types of dukkha as the following: birth; old age; sickness; death; not getting what we desire and getting what we don’t desire; not getting along with others we encounter in life; separation from our loved ones; attachment  to the five skandhas[1].

When the Buddha revealed these truths he did so out of compassion for all sentient beings. We find ourselves today facing a national crisis where our government policy is creating the separation of children from parents.  It is a suffering not created by natural circumstances nor by social conditions but by political biases and racism, policy makers who do not understand the depth of suffering being created and the many causes and conditions which bring about the continual arrival of refugees to the United States.

As a Buddhist we must be wise and compassionate and make every effort to see the larger picture and do what we can to alleviate and end the suffering.  When viewed through the narrow lenses of political biases we are not seeing the suffering that many are escaping and seeking refuge. Conditions at their homes must be horrendous for them to uproot their families and make the long trek to the US boarders.  We look at the conditions at the US border without looking at the causes in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras[2].

Suffering is a truth of life as the Buddha so eloquently pointed out.  We must however, note that there is suffering that we experience, but also the suffering that we create that needs to be addressed.  We are all part of the country in which we live and as a result party to the policies enacted by that country. We can do or say nothing or we can have our voices heard.  In either case we should do so with the heart of the Buddha and the compassionate motivation he showed us those many years ago.  Directly or indirectly we are the result of much of the suffering of the world in which we live.  Therefore, the nembutsu is our only salvation.

In Jodoshinshu there is a term sesshu fusha which means to “take in and embrace all forsaking none” Based on the Contemplation Sutra: it is the promise given by Amida “Each ray of Amida’s light shines universally upon the worlds of the ten quarters, embracing and not forsaking those sentient beings who utter the nembutsu”

Shinran said,

“Concerning compassion, there is a difference between the Path of Sages and the Pure Land Path.

Compassion in the Path of Sages is to pity, commiserate with, and care for beings. It is extremely difficult, however, to accomplish the saving of others just as one wishes.

Compassion in the Pure Land Path should be understood as first attaining Buddhahood quickly through saying the nembutsu and, with the mind of great love and compassion, freely benefiting sentient beings as one wishes.

However much love and pity we may feel in our present lives, it is hard to save others as we wish; hence, such compassion remains unfulfilled. Only the saying of the nembutsu, then, is the mind of great compassion that is thoroughgoing”.


[1] The five psycho-physical aggregates, which according to Buddhist philosophy are the basis for self grasping



Rev. Shinseki