This last Labor Day weekend, I was in San Francisco for the 16th World Buddhist Women’s Convention. It was two days of discussions, dharma talks, and interactions with people from all around the world. The convention brought together five districts of Jodo Shinshu buddhist churches in one place. The theme this year was “Live the Nembustu”. The “Nembutsu” or specifically “Namo Amida Butsu” is the expression that Shin Buddhist practice to create a sense of gratitude for the teachings of the Buddha. So that brings up the questions, how does one “Live” the Nembutsu? How do you take what is essentially a phrase and transform it into action? That was the central idea of every discussion and talk at the conference.
Several speakers at the WBW conference spoke about their life experiences that lead them to Dharma and helped them see the Nembutsu in their lives. Many of these experiences were tragic. But their talks weren’t tragic. They all spoke of how these sufferings they experienced allowed them to realize the truth of the Dharma. As long as we are lucky enough to be living in this world at this time, we will experience hardship. These hardships are only suffering if we make them suffering. We suffer because we try to cling to a world that doesn’t exist. Regret come out of clinging to a past that no longer exists. Anxiety is worrying about a world that doesn’t exist yet. But if you can pull back and find the beauty in this moment we are in right now, then you can find peace. And that is what I saw with all the speakers who told their stories at the WBW conference. They had all suffered, but that suffering had helped them realize how lucky they are to be here, in this place, on this day. That suffering had helped them feel gratitude for the teachings of the Buddha and for all the positive things they have. These sufferings had brought them peace. Tragedy is unavoidable, because we are alive and interconnected with everything. You get to decide how you will affected by tragedy. Find what you can be grateful for. Find the beauty in your life. Choose Peace.
How has tragedy helped you find peace in your life?