(5) THE JOY OF BEING BORN HUMAN

In the Kegon Sutra, Sakyamuni Buddha urged all humanity to experience the joy of fulfilling the purpose of their lives:

“It’s so difficult to be born human beings,
Yet, I cannot help but feel the joy of being born human.
It’s so difficult to listen to the teachings of Buddha,
Still, I cannot help but feel the joy of having listened to Buddhism.”

A marathon runner experiences joy upon breaking the ribbon at the finish line. Likewise, we experience joy when we realize the purpose of our lives. Buddha taught that humans are born to realize a world of joy and satisfaction. When this goal is achieved, all the pain, hardship, and troubles that we have gone through turn into joy and happiness. We appreciate politics, economics, science, medicine, moral, ethics, and sports because we become aware that they have helped us to live and realize the purpose of life.

Master Shinran, founder of Jodo Shin Buddhism, explained Buddha’s words as follows:

“The Great Promise which is beyond our comprehension
Is the grand ship that crosses the ocean so difficult to sail.
The Light without obstacles is the sun of wisdom
That forever eliminates the darkness of no light.”

“The ocean so difficult to sail” refers to our lives. “The great promise beyond our comprehension” refers to Buddhism. Life is painful because there are waves of suffering washing constantly over us. These waves are the difficulties we go through for food, clothing, and shelter. The need to get along with people that we don’t like and the separation from those, whom we love, are also like waves washing over us. People who are unable to cope with these problems commit suicide or turn to drugs or crime. They are those engulfed by the strong waves and stop fighting them.

We cannot stop the motion of the waves in the ocean. Likewise we cannot stop suffering. However, when we embark on the grand ship, no matter how strong the waves, we can enjoy the voyage. Buddhism is the grand ship that carries us across the ocean of suffering. Thus, Buddha’s teachings lead people to experience the true joy of being human. He teaches us what the purpose of life is, and how to achieve it.
Master Shinran teaches: “The Light without obstacles is the sun of wisdom that forever eliminates the darkness of no light.” The darkness of no light refers to the dark mind, which is the root cause of suffering. The only way to achieve true happiness is to completely eliminate the dark mind. The sun of wisdom is the power of Buddhism, the Promise of Amida Buddha.

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