Two Minute Warning

I hope everyone is enjoying the new year and appreciating each day — each moment while we are able to live. I gave this Dharma message at the December Shotsuki service, and I was requested to place it in this month’s issue of the Bodhi Mind as well. In the Dharma talk, I asked people: have you ever thought about why we love our games? It doesn’t matter whether it’s football, baseball, basketball, tennis, poker, checkers or chess … We enjoy them all. Why? I think it is because in the games we have created, the rules are clearly defined, and all the participants and spectators know well what is a fair play and what is a foul play. We know the boundaries and we know what is our of bounds. The rules are set. In living life, we often do not know what the rules are. We don’t know where the boundaries are, what is fair, and what is a foul. And most importantly, we never know when we are in the bottom of the ninth inning or the end of the fourth quarter.

In life, we are not often given a “two minute warning”. Therefore, we do not think, “I’ll do my best tomorrow or next week”. We know, “If we are going to try our best to make a difference, we have to do it right now.” Buddhism has often been called “a journey to the present”. It is the path that leads us to the moment that is NOW! In Buddhism, we are encouraged to try to live not taking for granted even one opportunity to be with those we love; to live appreciating the love of family, the companionship of friends and the gift of life each and every day. In life, the rules are not so clearly defined, and there is no guarantee on how long we will have to enjoy the time we have together. In other words, we should try to live feeling each day is the bottom of the ninth inning. If there is something you really want to do, do it NOW!

If there is someone who has shown you kindness, thank them NOW!

If there are people you care for, hold them close NOW!

In Jodo Shinshu, we call this a life of Gratitude, a life of Nembutsu. Only in doing this, can we live so that in time, we can let go of life with few regrets.

Namo Amida Butsu,
Tatsuya Aoki


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