Every Day is Thanksgiving

Published November 24, 2016 by

As Jōdo Shinshū Buddhists, we strive to truly understand our absolute dependence upon other people and all forms of life to sustain our own lives.

Only by awakening to the interdependent, inter-connected, and impermanent nature of human existence can we begin to appreciate the gift of life, the preciousness of this moment, and our profound debt of gratitude to countless people and beings, to life in all its forms, to great compassion and wisdom for embracing us always despite our faults, limitations, selfishness, and the pain and suffering we inflict, knowingly and unknowingly, upon others.

Buddhism teaches that our ego-centric desires and self-centered impulses, the stubborn belief in our exceptionalism, and our desperate clinging to ‘me’ and ‘mine’—the illusion that somehow we are special, different from others, entitled to and deserving of all that is good and none that is inconvenient, uncomfortable, or distasteful—are the root causes of our discontent, stress, anxiety, depression, and addictions.

When we awaken to the truth that we exist solely through the benevolence of others, we can only bow our heads, put our hands together, and say Namo Amida Butsu in gratitude and joy for being allowed to walk this path together, to be part of the great ‘ohana of life, to have aloha fill our hearts, and to just say mahalo on yet another wonderful day.

On this Thanksgiving Day, and every day, let us pause and reflect upon the causes and conditions, the inconceivable chain of events and situations, the hard work of people working the land, raising animals, or preparing the food, and the animals, fish, vegetables, fruits, and living beings who gave up their very existence so that we could be here together on this day, in this moment, with family, friends, companions, and community.

The Japanese phrases “itadakimasu” and “gochisou-sama” are a simple way to be mindful of our debt of gratitude for great compassion and wisdom in our lives, and a shorter version of the following Jōdo Shinshū Buddhist words of thanksgiving.

Before the meal: “itadakimasu



Ooku no inochi to minasama no okage ni yori, kono gochisou wo megumaremashita.

We are able to receive this wonderful meal only because of the efforts of many unseen people working tirelessly and many living beings who gave up their lives to sustain ours.



Fukaku go-on wo yorokobi, arigataku itadakimasu.

In joyful appreciation of our debt to those people and beings, we gratefully accept this gift of life.

After the meal: “gochisou-sama



Toutoi o-megumi wo oishiku itadaki, masu masu go-on housha ni tsutomemasu.

We savored a most wonderful meal, and shall now endeavor to work even harder to repay our debt of gratitude.



Okage-sama de gochisousama deshita.

Through the benevolence of many people and beings, we received the gift of a wonderful meal.

Namo Amida Butsu!

Kerry Kiyohara

Minister Lay Assistant with Tokudo Ordination

November 2016

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