Silent Zone
                                   Koju Fujieda
                                    Ryokeiji Temple

"Thank you, Reverend, for reciting the Sutra for our memorial service. While hearing it, I indulged myself in the memory of my parents as if I were in a silent zone." "What? What is a silent zone?" "I was a telegrapher on board a ship. At that time, I used to sit facing the clock, whose three minute-zones after every 15 and 45 minutes were specially marked in color. During the three minutes all telegraphs were stopped for listening to any would-be SOS (signal of sea disaster). It was called a silent zone. Today, away from daily noises, I could listen to the voices of the Buddha and my ancestors to my peace in mind." This is a heart-filling episode I heard from a priest in Hokkaido.
Surely, our modern time is a noisy age: the TV, radio, telephone, cars, stations, ---overwhelm us all the day. Floods of information are also tremendous---newspapers, magazines, inserted bills, various ads, public information---we are soaked in the oceans of printed letters and characters, and pictures and designs. In addition, the information dealt by smartphones and PCs are countless.
In the midst of such a time flow, we cannot escape from our private and domestic affairs. Involved in those whirlpools, we are sure to get older and start to complain of physical and mental disorders. Isn't this the reality of our "spending our life in vain"?
Knowledge, which is the core of our information and civilization, is certainly indispensable, but it remains a "means" to live in this world. It is different from wisdom that teaches the "meaning" of life. We would like to find even a brief silent zone when we can reflect ourselves and listen to the Buddha's calling.
In December or Shiwasu (Teacher-Running busy month in Japanese) , if we can detach ourselves from the worldly noises like "Carol" or "NHK Kohaku" and concentrate to the morning or evening service in front of the home altar, or to the Year-End Temple Bell, it will be a significant "silent time". This silence is not a mere void, but the most precious time when you can hear the voiceless call from our life origin, life home, or tranquil wisdom free from delusion.