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Does the sky reach the ground?

When I was in elementary school I remember having art periods. My favorite kind of art was finger painting – it was so gushy and messy! I didn’t like glue and construction paper – for mosaics and stuff – because the glue always stuck to my fingers. I also remember one boy loved to eat the glue! Yuck!

While learning to paint with poster paints I remember how some students would paint a broad section of blue across the top of the paper. I found out that they wanted to indicate the blue of the sky, since that is what you see when you look up.

As I got older I realized that the sky doesn’t just stay “up” but extends all the way to the ground. I tried to paint that sometimes, but it got very messy to put blue everywhere – all the way to the ground.

The original perception of young children is to see the sky only up, so they paint the top of the picture with a blue band. However, at some time one learns that the sky isn’t limited to being upward. It’s hard to rationalize since we do see a blue sky when we look up, but we don’t see blue when we look anywhere on ground level. So what does that mean?

The purpose of this example of perception is to show that we also tend to get confused about where we can and can’t see Amida Buddha’s Wisdom and Compassion. Sometimes, when something very good happens to us, we feel that our karma is rewarding us for some good merit we might have earned. Sometimes, when things go badly, we might feel punished for thinking we are unworthy of Amida Buddha’s gift of Nembutsu. But in each case, we are mistaken. Just as the child is mistaken to think that the blue sky is only up.

Amida Buddha’s Wisdom and Compassion pervades the entirety of this world. There is not a ‘place’ where this Wisdom and Compassion does not exist. It is said that even in Hell Amida’s Wisdom and Compassion works to release the suffering being from their delusion.

So next time you wonder where Amida’s Wisdom and Compassion exist, think about the sky and how it reaches all the way to the ground!  namoamidabutsu.

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