The Living Dharma Centre (LDC) presents the following essay as a reflection of some of our thoughts based on our Shin Pure Land Buddhist tradition in honour of our 110th anniversary of Buddhism in Canada. Over the year we will periodically provide a different essay from various sources - our ministers, our minister's assistants, lay members and previous ministers and their families who served in Canada. We hope that this compilation of essays will help open your heart and mind to the Life of Gratitude and the teachings of the Buddha (Dharma).

In Deepest Gratitude,
Amy Wakisaka
Program Director, Living Dharma Centre



Life of A Mother Octopus

The Great Sage Sakyamuni teaches
That Amida’s land is easy to reach
And calls the sentient being who doubts the Pure Land path
A person lacking eyes of mind, lacking ears of mind.

(Hymns to Amida Based on Various Sutras Nr. 90 by Shinran Shonin)

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Masumi Kikuchi Sensei and her son, Ten

We might think how great and how mysterious “Life” is. I feel like my life has completely changed. I am so grateful for my peaceful moment with my husband Aki and one year old son Ten in Amida’s compassion…

One day, when I was in Toronto, I watched a short documentary program about “The Life of the Octopus”. In the program, octopuses were called “Ninja of the Sea”, because they hide very well by changing their body colors and texture depending on the background such as sands, rocks and corals. That really amazed me.

The program also taught me about “The Life of A Mother Octopus”…

The “Mother Octopus” spawned her eggs into rock-shelter and then she remained on the rocks to hide and protect her eggs from enemies. During this time, she could not eat anything and she didn’t move at all. As you might imagine, got weaker and weaker, day by day. After several days, she almost seemed dead; however, she endured all the pain and suffering and held her body against the current of the sea just to protect her eggs. She finally died and her remains flowed into the darkness of the sea. At the same time, countless “Baby Octopuses” came out from the rock-shelter and swam into the world of the great sea with their hopes and joys of new life.

Unconsciously, I shed a tear over the compassionate sight of the “Mother Octopus”. She was born into this world one day, matured, became a mother and protected her babies with her life just “as a matter-of-course”. And she ended her life for new lives just “as a matter-of-course”. Maybe we are struggling by going against “the law of nature”, and create “sufferings” by ourselves in our minds. Such direction seems like going towards “the darkness” and this seems the opposite path of the octopus, which goes towards “the light “, that is selflessness.

Sometimes, I hear that humans are the superior beings amongst all animals. In Buddhism, however, we say all
Shinran Shonin stared into his mind deeply during his lifetime. He found “the darkness in his mind” that all human beings bear from birth to death. In the above Hymn, “A person lacking eyes of mind, lacking ears of mind” describes us. Shinran Shonin cautioned that it is very difficult for us to mindfully listen to Amida’s Primal Vow, though “Amida’s (Pure) Land is easy to reach”. It is said that the Pure Land which has “non-discrimination”, is the world beyond our bipolarities such as “Good and Evil”, “Love and Hate” and even “Life and Death” which we created by ourselves and divided our view points.

Through recitation of the Nembutsu, “Namo-Amidabutsu”, we should humbly learn “the reality of Life” from all living beings in nature which surrender their “Life and Death” to other power just “as a matter-of-course”…

In Gassho,

Masumi Kikuchi-Taniji

October 14, 2015

Rev. Masumi served in Canada for about 7 years at the
Steveston Buddhist Temple and the Toronto Buddhist Church. She still has many dear friends across Canada She is married to Rev. Akira Taniji and they have a son and live and work at a temple in Kyoto.


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