I believe that Buddhism is different from other religions. The reason is that Buddhism never talks about becoming a good person. 90% of all religions emphasize to be a good person. In order to do so, people can believe in God or in Buddha. Or, I can state that they need the help from them. They believe that something beyond this world can show the way to becoming a good person and to be born into better world such as HEAVEN or Tengoku (Heavenly world). Of course, they need to practice many years for this purpose.
On the other hand, Buddhism emphasized to become a Buddha, which means to become an enlightened one. Buddha enlightens the truth of the world. Ii is not necessarily comfortable for us. Sometime it shows the very severe and dark side of this world. To become a Buddha means that we should accept everything in this world, good or bad, as the truth of the world. The truth itself is beyond our value system. In this meaning, there is a big difference from good and truth. Buddhism emphasized that to see the truth is more important than to becoming a good person. Traditionally Buddhists say “enlighten yourself and benefit from other people, then you fulfill the goal to become a Buddha.”
Now I would like to talk about the “other world (shore).” Buddhists, especially Pure Land Buddhists or Shin Buddhist, are concerned about the aspiration to cross to the other shore (world). Why do we have to aspire to cross to the other shore? We cannot stay on this shore when we see the truth of this world. We want to be free from this suffering world. Buddhist calls this suffering world this shore, and “other shore” is the world freed from the suffering or “Ojodo” which is a Buddha’s Land. As long as we try to make us better through our own effort, we can’t escape from this world.
It is impossible for us to do so because we are living in the suffering world. We need a help from the other world and call it Buddha’s Hand, which is the “Other Power.” We can be a happy person in a true meaning when we are aware of the existence of “Other Power” because we do not need to worry about the dualistic conflicting world like ‘good or bad’, ‘right or left’ and ‘black or white’ any more. This is the teaching of Buddha and I call it a very unique religion from other world religions. Let’s cross this world to the other world as soon as possible!
Namo Amida Buddha
Rev. Nobuo Miyaji
Venice Hongwanji supervising minister