I am grateful for all of the causes and conditions that have brought you and me together. Now our lives have crossed through some great act of coincidence, and here you are reading my words. Coincidence. Words. When we look at the word “coincidence”, we have two parts: the prefix “co-” means jointly or together; and the root word “incident” is an event or occurrence. The word “coincidence” itself means a remarkable concurrence of events without causal connection. In Buddhism we learn that all things are interconnected and interdependent, so when we put it all together a coincidence is really just a whole bunch of remarkable interconnected events.
There are so many events and coincidences that had to occur to make me the person that I am, and you the person that you are; and I am grateful for this because I’m awesome and you’re awesome. But the coincidence that brought us awesome people together is being introduced to Jodo Shinshu. (Tacky, I know, but I am truly grateful for this.)
For as long as I can remember, my family has always been connected to Jodo Shinshu by association. My dad’s best friend has always been connected to Vancouver Buddhist Temple and we would often attend their events. We never went to services, but always enjoyed the bazaars, Obon festivals, and the lasting tradition of the Family Retreat at Manning Park in British Columbia. (If you haven’t been before, you really should join us!) Fast forward a few years, and my mom is looking for a new job and is offered one as temple secretary. (Coincidence?)
Sensei Kuwahara, Anthony Chor, and Socho Aoki
At this point, I’m in my late teens, and going to the temple was never really in my long agenda of school and assignments (or computer games and sleep…). Once I was finished high school, I was looking for ways to spend my summer and my local temple minister, a young, quiet, yet enthusiastic Aoki Sensei reached out to involve the youth of Vancouver Buddhist Temple for a 3-day “boot camp-like” Summer Dharma Retreat. (Coincidence?)
Having nothing else really planned, I made it to the retreat. It changed my perspective on Jodo Shinshu and the community. Since then, through the teachings of the dharma, I understand the interdependence of our lives colliding with each other; I understand that loss is unpreventable and that everything is impermanent; I understand that life is suffering and that my attitude towards the way I see the world depends on me. The world of Jodo Shinshu has opened my eyes to the world around me, all because of this string of remarkable events that have brought me to the now. Pretty remarkable coincidences I must say.
Being in my mid-twenties, life can get pretty busy and a little bit scary sometimes, but I plan to continue to remain mindful of the remarkable events that have brought me to the teachings and continue to be there for the Jodo Shinshu community. The community is changing and I want to be part of all of the remarkable coincidences that are changing with it. Thank you for being part of that too.