No matter which way I turn, the Buddha embraces me (Hiroumi Hiroumi)

When physicist Albert Einstein was invited to Japan, he paid a visit to Reverend Jokan Chikazumi and asked him about the Buddha Dharma, especially the heart of the Buddha (―Buddha-mind‖). It is said thatRev. Chikazumi told him the story of Ubasuteyama (the old custom of abandoning old people, usually women, deep in the mountains). A young man was hurrying along a mountain path carrying his aged mother on his back. Along the way, the mother was breaking off tree twigs and dropping them on the path. She was marking the path with a trail of twigs. They young man thought that his mother was leaving a trail of twigs so that she could later make her way out of the mountains. When they arrived at their destination, the son, bidding his mother farewell, was about to leave when she said, "Since I didn’t want you to become lost, I left a trail of twigs for you. Follow that as you make your way back home" is said that when the young man heard this, he didn’t have the heart to leave her there and so once again put her on his back and carried her home. “The trail of broken twigs to the recesses of the mountains is for whom? It is for my child who is hurrying on his way to abandon his parent.” These lyrics reflect the feelings that the aged mother held in her heart. From them, we can clearly see that they were not meant to reproach him for taking her deep into the mountains to abandon her, but rather it was her own abandoning of her ―self", and that as a mother, her sole concern was for the safety of her child. Although her son was intending on abandoning her, she was receptive and accepting of him completely as he was. Rev. Chikazumi told [Einstein] that this commiserative expression is likened to the Buddha’s compassion. Einstein, when he came to know that according to the Buddha Dharma, the heart of the Buddha does not pass judgment of whether something is good or evil, he was elated to have encountered this kind of religion for the first time, and said that in order for us to realize true peace that is free of conflict, we must learn from this. I feel that the gassho of the Buddha is an expression of commiseration and compassion. (Excerpt from the Hongwanji Publication: Monthly Quotes. Translation by Rev. Gene Sekiya)

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