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The Great Compassion: An Interview with Reverend Patricia Kanaya Usuki
|Rev. Patricia Kanaya Usuki (photo: Koury Angelo)|
Patricia Kanaya Usuki was born in Toronto, Canada, to an Anglican father and a Buddhist mother. Her parents brought her up in the United Church of Canada, one of the few Canadian religious institutions that welcomed people of Asian heritage.
As an adult, Usuki began a process of reflection on her life. “I’ve had my ups and downs,” she thought, “but mostly I’ve had a wonderful life. Why am I able to enjoy such a life as this?” This question led her to explore the Buddhist tradition more closely. In the Jodo Shinshu (Shin) tradition of Pure Land Buddhism, founded by Shinran Shonin in 1224, she found her answers. Speaking of the Shin Buddhist perspective, she says, “I am the beneficiary of the wisdom and compassion of all life that has come together.” The immeasurable wisdom and compassion of all life is embodied by Amida Buddha, and Shin practitioners express their gratitude by saying the nembutsu, “Namu Amida Butsu.” The phrase literally translates as “I venerate Amida Buddha,” but its meaning declares the practitioner’s joy and heartfelt appreciation: “Thank you, Amida Buddha.”
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