As we greet the New Year, I offer a heartfelt prayer for everyone’s happiness and for world peace. This past year, the whole world has had to deal with the new coronavirus pandemic. I hope that this year will be as calm as possible.
In Japan, we have the custom that we begin the New Year by paying a visit to shrines and temples. In doing this, we are surrounded both physically and mentally with a feeling of freshness. I think this is especially important.
In Dogen Zenji’s writings, we find these words, “When one person truly resolves to return to the source, space in the ten directions truly resolves to return to the source.” Even though there are differences in religion – some people believe in God, while other believe in Buddha – that belief is nothing less than returning to the true nature of the origin.
When Shakyamuni had true awakening under the bodhi tree and became the Buddha, it is said that he exclaimed, “The great earth has simultaneously realized the Way together with all sentient beings.” It can be said that enlightenment means to clearly wake up and correctly understand the principles of things, but I also think it is to return to the source and experience a clear, true heart and mind.
No one lives alone. It is important for us to be aware that we are living and alive with all things in nature. We all want to take the true path that is best for each of us.
The earth can be thought of as a ship joined together floating through space. I believe that there is no greater happiness than helping and encouraging each other to take care of the precious connections we have of living together now. This is the way I would like to endeavor this year.
Head Priest of the Sotoshu