Quite often, listening to opposing views can bring out the best in us. When we are able to consider positions and perspectives from a different and broader perspective than our own, we open our hearts and minds to endless possibilities.
Right now, we are in the middle of a presidential election campaign and voting is already taking place. I have been reading that the voter turnout could be record-breaking. What that means to me is that hopefully people are listening and paying attention to what the candidates are saying and to different points of view. By voting, they are exercising a responsibility and right which is so essential to maintaining a democratic society representing 'We the People.'
Of course we do not know what the outcome of the election will be. We really do not know what the outcome of many situations will be. These past few months living through the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly taught us that. But regardless of the outcome, it seems to me that in exercising our right to vote, the election which presents sharply different policy positions and personalities and values is not dividing us, as many people say, but might even be uniting us, bringing us together in our shared commitment and hope for a better tomorrow. As Americans, through our elections, we are given the privilege to assess our goals and how best they would be represented.
We all have different approaches in how we make decisions, whether it involves who to vote for, or how we live our everyday lives. I have chosen the path of the Buddha to accompany me on my personal journey. Knowing that as simple minded as I may be, and how many errors I may make in my own life, the Buddha does not forsake me. Whatever situation or decision I face, I always go back to the basics of The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to try and understand what Shakyamuni is saying to me before I put my thoughts and my words into action.
the Buddhist tradition, that desire to do something, to take action, is often referred to as Gyo (Practice). It literally means or suggests that at some point we need to put our thoughts into action. In his personal awakening, the Buddha wanted to do something useful, to ease the sufferings of all sentient beings. For me, this Gyo comes from an awakening of my own role in the dynamics of life, a realization that it's not about me, it's about us, and the deep interrelationship and interdependence of all things. It helps me answer the question "what can and should I do?" when I am faced with uncertainties and differing views.
Entrusting in The Three Treasures, "I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha" on behalf of New York Buddhist Church and as your Resident Minister, I want to express my sincerest gratitude to all of you who have been supporting our temple this year. Everyone is going through some form of difficulty, and not being able to support each other by gathering together in person has made this time even more challenging and sad. We are all in the same situation as we worry about the future, and are saddened by the loss of so many lives and livelihoods. However, I feel strongly that each and every one of you is a very precious and valuable resource, and I am so grateful that we have been able to gain strength from each other as we continue to stay connected virtually as a spiritual community. Thank you. All of you are always in our thoughts, and always welcome, no matter what your views may be! Namo Amida Butsu.