10 years ago, I got a shirt as a gift. It was a nice long sleeve Brooks Brothers shirt. Now for many people, they might not think that spending $100 is a lot for a shirt, but for me you could get 3. With this in mind, I only wear it for special occasions. Have you ever worn a piece of clothing in this way?
Trees of seven precious materials fill the land,Amidakyo
Mutually reflecting each other’s brilliance;
The flowers, fruits, branches, and leaves all shine thus,
So take refuge in Amida, the store of virtues fulfilled through the Primal Vow.
The passage above is from the Amidakyo or the Smaller Sukharvativyuha Sutra. Here at the temple we chant it every Dec 30th to help us visualize the Buddha’s Pureland. Imagine the jeweled trees and the colored brilliance of light reflecting everywhere. Even with this image we can find a little peace within. Like this passage, the Naijin or altar is also a visual aid for our inner settlement. On every special occasion the Naijin has a special shirt as well. In 2022, that shirt will be 50 years old. Well, it is not really a shirt, but it is a very special outfit or cloths that we lay out. These cloths are to accentuate how precious these moments are and how powerful the teachings are in our lives. They are our Uchishiki and Mizuhiki. They are important, because in Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime there was a custom of spreading out fine cloths for the Buddha to sit on before relaying the Dharma. Later, they were used to decorate home and temple altars alike. The Mizuhiki is a brocade cloth that covers the front and sides of the front table. Our Mizuhiki is green. Then the Uchishikis are triangle cloths on the altar. You can see four of them. If you have one at home, you can check the back of this triangular piece. It might be white. This was so if you had a funeral, you could reverse it for this purpose.
There is a definite value to having a gift that is worth more than you are willing to spend. In the case of my white shirt, it was to help in the life that I was just beginning as a Buddhist Priest. The gift of a shirt was to help in sharing the Buddha’s teachings and easing the suffering of the world. This was the same with the ceremonial cloths that we use at our temple. Embroidered on the back of some our Uchishiki is the date and people’s names that they were donated in honor of.
What I see when I look at this is the wish to make our lives better. We have been using these cloths for 50 years. Have you noticed them? Many times they are overlooked or taken for granted. They look great for a 50 year old set of cloths don’t they? Our temple is in process of beginning another 50 years with a new set of clothing for our Naijin with the continued effort to awaken and enlighten the world.
Would you like to help in this effort? If you could write a wish for the world, your community, your children, what would it be? How would you make a difference? When the 7 precious materials of these new cloths reflect their brilliant rays throughout the world, how will you feel? Let us work together and all write a message that will last the next 50 years.
But before it is too late, take in these special pieces. As you sit and listen to the teachings, imagine that you are sitting and listening to the Buddha himself. Namu Amida Butsu
Stay Safe and Stay Sangha Strong!
In Gratitude and Appreciation,
Rev. Kory Quon