Formula in Buddhism: The 15th Vow

You see the formula below. These are essential steps when we learn the Teaching of Buddha. It goes as follows:

1. To Learn Buddhism is to learn myself,

2. to learn myself is to learn Buddha's compassion.

3. to learn Compassion is to forget myself,

4. and to forget myself is to throw me into Buddha's World.

The 15th Vow

Please recall that each Vow appears to clarify what I am. The 15th Vow goes as below:

"If the men and devas in my country, after obtaining Buddhahood, are limited in the length of their lives, except those whose lives may be shortened or lengthened in accordance with their original vows (wishes), may I not achieve the Highest Enlightenment." 

This vow says that every being in Amida's World can control the length of their lives in accordance with their wishes. If one wants it short or long, the vow says that it is possible. What does this mean to me?

Thinking of my life, for example, I think it is possible to kill myself, or if I am careful about eating and exercise, I think that I would live longer. I think I can control the length of my life. But is this true or false?

Suicide: Before the novelist, Akutagawa-Ryunosuke, committed suicide in 1927 at the age of 35, he wrote down the process in detail; he knew that many people misunderstood suicide or they did not know it accurately. So, before his suicide, he thought it was his responsibility to clarify what suicide is and how it happens. To condense his explanation - a person has to prepare many things such as how, when, where, family, friends, financial part, etc. Once all conditions are satisfied, then suicide happens. In short, suicide itself does not happen all of a sudden nor does it happen because of "cause." It is very conditional. Even when a person wants to die because of a certain reason such as illness, the person's intention is just one of the causes or conditions. In other words, a person can't do it in accordance with his wish and intention alone.

Longevity: A dying man called me and we met. He knew his situation and his days were running out within one week. I mainly listened to him. He said, "I wish I could live two more years. If so, my daughter will be a high school student...I wish I could live six more months. If so, I could see my son would be graduated from high school.....Sensei, I wish I could live a little bit more...but I know I can't....."

There are uncountable numbers of conditions in this world which drive us to death such as wars, weather conditions, sickness, old age, accidents, injury, etc. Even when I am very careful about my health, there is no guarantee I can live long. My life is also very conditional, or the length of my life truly depends on conditions I am in.

The 15th Vow clarifies anything happens to me whenever and wherever conditions entrap me. This is the life I have been living. I have become aware of it through this Vow. Anything happens to me. So there is no surprise!

In Gassho, 

Rev. Doei Fujii

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