Updated: Are We Walking Too Slowly on the Right Path?
Are We Walking Too Slowly on the Right Path?
Actual Story: The late 11c Buddhist priest Eikan, who practised constantly moving, uninterrupted recitation of Amiatabha Buddha's name, grew sleepy and tired while he was walking around the back of the central image during this practice, coming to a stop . Just at this moment the main image turned his head back and said "Eikan hurry up!".
Adapted Story: Once upon a time, there was a monk in medieval Japan who was trained in the Pureland teachings since young. The monk was very diligent in his chanting of the name of the Buddha, in the hope of "meeting" Amitabha Buddha someday in his meditation.
One day when the monk in deep meditation, he saw himself strolling slowly on an unobstructed bright and straight path... till he was suddenly overtaken by someone from behind. The monk then doubled up his steps to go after the person to take a good look at him. When the monk got closer, the person in front suddenly stopped and looked back over his left shoulder at him, asking, "Why are you walking so slowly?" He took a good look at the person's face and to his surprise saw that He was Amitabha Buddha (Amida Nyorai, in Japanese) who had just spoken to him!
Momentarily shocked, the monk immediately awakened from his deep meditation, and returned to reality. He then pondered over the meaning of "Why are you walking so slowly?" Suddenly, he realized he had not previously put in the RIGHT EFFORT to learn and practise the Dharma in depth. From then onwards, he became very diligent, eventually becoming a famous abbot of his time.
When he became an abbot, he commissioned the making of a unique standing statue of Amitabha Buddha looking over His left shoulder, symbolically documenting his meeting with the Buddha of Immeasurable Light. Till today, thisstatue of Amida Nyorai still exists in a monastery in Japan.
The statue cautions practitioners of the Dharma that Right Effort and diligence is required to truly learn and practise the Dharma. Our days and waking hours in this world are limited. With the passing of each day, our lifespan is continually shortened. There is thus no room for complacency or laziness. Certainly, when it comes to realising the Dharma, we should all walk faster whenever we can. When we meet the Buddha, what would you like to hear Him say?
Mikaeri Amida Nyorai: "The Tathagatha Amida [Buddha] Looking Back." Emphasizing Amida's infinite compassion, this National Treasure from Zenrinji temple in Kyoto shows him looking back for any stragglers to take to the Pure Land. (Click on image for larger view)Namo Amituofo
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