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  • Writer's pictureSweet Orange

#40 悟り "Truth"

Bishop. Yuju Matsumoto 松本優樹

Title: "Truth"


Once upon a time, when I was a high school student, I attended a Christmas Mass at a church called Kagoshima Cathedral Xavier Church next to my grandma's house.

As a monk, it is not easy for me to explain about Christianity because I am not a specialist, and I may be scolded by specialists or believers.

As I understand it, Christianity is a religion that believes in Jesus Christ (Savior), who was born about 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, preached the good news of the Kingdom of God as a young man, hung himself on the cross to save sinful people, and later resurrected. (Hmm? Is this correct?)

Buddhism means the teachings of Buddha. About 2,500 years ago, a man named Gautama was born in India. After he came of age, he began to search for the truth of how one should live, and how all living beings can be freed from suffering and achieve true happiness. Eventually, he acquired the "truth" and went around telling people how they should live their lives as Buddha, the one who had awakened to the truth. He was respected by people, and his disciples, who respected him, practiced his way of life to escape suffering. Buddhism is a religion and a group of people who believe in Buddha's way of life.

There is no doubt that Buddha was the first to preach the "teaching of truth“. However, it took more than 1,000 years for Buddhism to be introduced to Japan from India, and more than 1,200 years have already passed since Buddhism was introduced to Japan. During that time, the interpretation of the "truth" preached by Buddha changed with the times, and the interpretation changed according to the social background, and thus the sects in Japan were divided.

For example, there is a gap of about 800 years between the founding of the Tendai and Shingon sects and the Ōbaku sect of Zen Buddhism. If you put them all together, it becomes even more confusing.

I am sometimes asked the question, "Aren't the teachings of Buddha different from those of the various Japanese sects?" The content of the teachings of the various sects is not a change from the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, but rather a continuation of the Buddha's teachings in the context of each time period. It may be easier to understand if you look at the various schools of Japanese Buddhism from the perspective of the depths of their history, rather than from a side-by-side perspective.

The differences between the teachings of the various sects may be better understood by comparing it to climbing a mountain. When climbing a mountain, there are many different routes, some zigzagging, some spinning, some climbing in a straight line, and so on. In the same way, although there are various ways of training to reach the "truth" that Buddha enlightened, the summit of "enlightenment" is actually one and the same.

In the sutras, it is explained that "enlightenment is to know the truth of one's own mind”.


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