Learning from Students

Posted by:

K. Ken Fujimoto

We have been fortunate here in San Jose and the Coast District to have the four International Ministers Orientation Program (IMOP) students visiting and participating in events and programs here. These students are young ministers who are going to be overseas ministers in Hawaii, Canada or our BCA or are strongly considering the possibility. They come to the Jodo Shinshu Center and the BCA for a number of weeks as part of their orientation and training.

This year’s group is a varied and interesting one. They all have unique backgrounds and interests. One spent a number of years in the area and received some of her education here while her father worked here for a Japanese company. Another did undergraduate work studying traditional Japanese arts with a focus on pottery. This person also studied at the IBS for a year as an exchange student. This variety enabled them to not just observe, but to also contribute to the programs they attended in the area.

They accompanied Rev. Kuwahara who is heading the program to our Tuesday evening study class and participated in the discussion after his presentation. They added different insights and information to the discussion. They also attended the recent Nembutsu Family Convention held at the Mountain View Temple and were drafted into a panel discussion that was arranged at the last minute for the Japanese speaking group in attendance. There, they shared their hopes and vision and a little of their background and their motivation for wanting to become overseas ministers for the Hongwanji. This was an uplifting and positive experience for all in attendance.

Personally and broadly speaking, these students taught me or made me realize a couple of important things. The first was that two of these young ministers were students of friends of mine and a third was the child of an old acquaintance. This made me realize just how senior a senior minister I have become. The other was the importance of what we often refer to as the beginner’s mind. The refreshing nature of their outlook and excitement was something from which we can all learn.

I have often mentioned an old Japanese adage that literally translates into “one must not forget the beginner’s mind.” This actually means that we need to remember that joy and excitement experienced in the process of learning or experiencing something new or doing something for the first time. When we get used to doing something, we often lose sight of that joy and excitement and get jaded and into a rut. We go through the motions and may get things done, but not with the enthusiasm we once had. Remembering the reality that each time, though it may be similar, is a new experience and something from which we can gain and learn, will make even the most mundane task, something invaluable.

My hope for these young ministers is that they will be able to pursue their dreams and remember to never lose that sense of excitement and joy in what they do. Their decisions to come to the BCA should be a positive thing for all concerned. I also thank them for reminding me about the value and importance of remembering the joy and excitement of doing things as if it were the first time each and every time.

© October 21, 2013