Dharma Card for February

                  We remain young with belief and grow old with doubt;

              We remain young with confidence and grow old with fear.

              Nobody grows old merely by a number of years.

We grow old by deserting our ideals.

                             ---Adapted from Samuel Ullman’s Youth


                 Photo by Isamu Tsugo


         It is said that on September 27, 1945, when Showa Emperor visited General

    Douglas MacArthur at the GHQ in Hibiya,Tokyo, there was a framed copy of Ullman’s

poem on his office wall, and the Emperor had a photo taken in front of the poem side

by side with a lay man for the first time.

    At a glance I had an intuition that there is something related with Shin Buddhism in
this poem. People who have entrusted themselves to the Original Vow and say the
nembutsu in gratitude have a strong belief that they will surely be saved by Amida
Buddha; they have a definite confidence that they are already in the “rightly established s
tage” assured of birth in the Pure Land and the attainment of Buddhahood; and they
have a high aspiration to be born in the Pure Land.  With such belief (shinjin),
confidence, and hope, they remain young in spirit, but those who doubt the Buddha’s
wisdom and compassion, fear death, and fail to find the true meaning of life
in their
disappointment are sure to grow old and decay spiritually.

     Incidentally, Ullman’s poem starts with this:

        Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind;

it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees;

it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination,

a vigor of the emotions;

it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

I sincerely hope we will keep this freshness of our spirit.