This is the first of the three articles by three MVBT Girl Scouts who are working for their Padma Award. Each scout is writing about a woman who is a Buddhist Reverend with the BCA.
By Cadette Kurumi Mukojima
This summer, I had a great opportunity to interview Rev. Yukiko Motoyoshi, who is a BCA minister emeritus. She told me that the most important thing was being aware of yourself, knowing yourself and that the true teachings of Buddhism always starts with ”I”. She also said that Buddhism is not Buddhism unless it is connected to our everyday life.
Motoyoshi Sensei is a person just like myself, who is a daughter of a minister and had been listening to the teachings of the Buddha since her childhood. Her father was the 18th generation reverend and she became the 19th generation of Buddhists reverends in her family. Her father’s youngest brother took over the family temple in Fukui, Japan.
Even though she had been listening to the teachings of Buddha since she was a child, she started getting interested in Buddhism when she entered college. When she experienced an identity crisis, she was able to find the answers through the teachings of Buddhism. She told me that she couldn’t see who she was, what she was, where she was going, and how she was living. She was not able to see any value in everything. There was no direction in her life. She told me, “One day, I went outside and felt the warm Hawaiian sun and gentle Hawaiian breeze. I also felt lives of trees and flowers. They are all alive and they are so beautiful,” I thought. I suddenly felt that I was embraced by Amida Buddha. “I wasn’t alone, but I was always with Amida Buddha.” With that feeling, I was able to reflect on myself and the surrounding in more a calm and clear mind. In other words, instead of looking at one’s self and the world from clouded eyes (i.e., limited, discriminative and self-centered mind), I was able to see myself and the world more objectively. I was NOT completely free of discriminative and self-centered mind, but it was certainly little bit (it was just tiny bit, though) better than before. Because of the interdependent and empty nature of the world, I became what I am, who I am and how I exist.”
She states, “In happiness and in sadness, the teachings of Buddha (especially “interdependence” and “emptiness”) enables me to be aware of the true nature of that very moment. This helps me to live that moment truly and appreciative as much as I am able to.”
Buddhism made her more aware of herself (who she was and who others were). As she got older her perspectives started to change and because of that her appreciation for Buddhism became greater.
One question I asked her was, “What do you think women can do in our community today to contribute to the betterment of the community?” She told me that we are all different. Buddhism teaches us to see the connection with others, while also seeing the connection within ourselves. She also said as follows: “I am a woman and this is as much as I can do. I will serve the community because I am a person and not just a woman.” She told me that contributing to the community does not matter whether I’m a woman or a man because I’m a person who is part of the community.
After talking with Motoyoshi Sensei, I learned that recognition is important. Everyone is different and recognizing each other’s differences in a good way is important. Knowing the differences of each other and still being kind to each other are the teachings of Buddhism. Buddhism enables us to know who we are and understand each other better. The most important thing is to know that we are part of the community.
I’ve grown up attending the MVBT since I was in kindergarten. But to be honest, I hadn’t listened to Buddha’s teachings seriously because I was optimistic about my life. But when the pandemic occurred last year, I had the opportunity to think deeply about my life. I figured out that I didn’t know what I was doing, who I was, where my life was going, and what I’m going to do in the future. I think this was an identity crisis, maybe? Although I wanted to try to find the answer to these questions, I didn’t want to tell my parents because I didn’t want them to worry. However, after talking with Motoyoshi Sensei and hearing how Buddhism enabled her to find the answers to her identity crisis, I was very impressed with it. Since then I’ve tried to find ways to connect Buddhism in my everyday life with the stories and teachings my dad tells every Sunday Service. I started being able to look at everything (myself, friends, family, homework, etc.) carefully. As you can see, talking with Motoyoshi Sensei helped me connect Buddhism in my everyday life, and see everything around me and myself in a calm manner.