Words of Gratitude
by Karen Carson

Happy 104th birthday, Shojushinin-sama! I often recall that Shojushinin-sama used to say that things may not make sense right now, but after five, ten or twenty years, eventually, we will come to understand Buddha’s mercy. Whenever, I think of her words, I clearly recall the sesshin indication that I had received more than twenty years ago. I remembered this particular sesshin because I just couldn’t understand it. The sesshin indicated, “You must remember that there are many people who have passed away from wars. Not everyone wanted to die or to be killed. Regardless of their nationalities and countries, please remember and realize that many people fought wars and were killed. Please also remember those who have lost their sons, husbands and fathers. Please realize the sadness that they had to live through due to their deaths and how they had to continue living without each of their loved ones.” I had always wondered why was this sesshin given to me? I have never experienced war and I have never lost any loved ones because of the war. Just as Shojushinin-sama said, “You will find the answer in five, ten, or twenty years later.” I finally got my answers to my question after I became a Lineage Parent. Right after I became a Lineage Parent, I started to go to Austin, Texas to meet some of my lineage children whom I have never met. When I first started going to Austin, I didn’t know what to expect. However, as I started to go to Austin, I gradually started to learn about my Lineage children. During one of my visits they shared with me that many of them were “Boat People from Vietnam” and showed me a replica of a dinky wooden boat that was similar to their boat overfilled with refugees when they escaped Vietnam. This Vietnamese family was very fortunate to escape from Vietnam and they were one of the lucky families who did not lose anyone. I was told that almost one out of every two Boat People passed away trying to escape Vietnam. This family said that Kannon Bodhisattva was the one who have saved their entire family from this sad history. This is one of the reason why this family became connected to Shinnyo-en. I was born after the Vietnam War so I didn’t really know about the plights of so many Vietnamese people. I also can’t imagine the bravery of many Vietnamese and American soldiers sacrificing their lives for the sake of Democracy. Through my lineage children in Austin, I clearly understood the meaning of the sesshin indication that I couldn’t understand for almost twenty years. After my repentance, with a true understanding, I was able to offer my heartfelt appreciation to so many ancestors of the Vietnamese refugees and American soldiers who showed me how to be selfless and brave. After this understanding, I was able to cultivate my spiritual faculty. I wish to celebrate Shojushinin-sama’s birthday together with those who have survived so many life ordeals. I also do hope that even one more person can become the shining bright light for many people as Shojushinin-sama has shown us during her lifetime.

Thank you very much!
Representing all Shinnyo-en USA followers
-Karen Carson