The Land of Bright and Light

Vow 3: If, when I obtain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not all be the color of pure gold, may I not obtain perfect enlightenment.

Vow 4: If, when I obtain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not all be of one appearance, and should there be any difference in beauty, may I not attain perfect enlightenment.

-Vows 3 and 4 of the 48 vows of Amida Buddha

Since I was a child, I was fascinated by rainbows.  The other day as Carmela and I flew into Seattle we saw an amazing circle rainbow.  There was a time when we were driving to the temple in Salt Lake and we saw the entire sky shimmering with rainbow colors, like the surface of a bubble.  No matter where or what type of rainbow, the rainbow makes me think of the aspiration of human beings to realize there is more to the world then we see with our eyes alone.  Which made me think of this story and how the rainbow was born.

 Once upon a time there was a land that wasn’t very bright or light.  In this land lived families of various colors, the red family, yellow family, and blue family. Each family basically stayed to themselves.  The red families, stayed among other red families.  The yellow families only with other yellows and the blues with the blues, as a result the land stayed rather dim, not very bright or light.

For generations, these families of color stayed separate and lived only among their own kind.  As a result, in each of these separate families of color beautiful stories, histories and traditions developed.  The reds told of how they came from fire.  The blues told of how their wonderful blueness came from the sky.  The yellows told of their ancestors the sun and stars.  Each of these families would look toward the heavens and remember their ancestors and hope to reach greatness in their own way.

            However, the children often wondered why they couldn’t play with one another.  They would see the other colors playing in the distance and wonder what they were doing.  The little reds would go home and ask, “Why can’t we play with the other children.”  The elder reds would explain, “We have never mixed with the other colors.  Our family has a wonderful tradition of redness, why would you want to leave and become yellow or blue?  We think it best that you stay with us reds.  You should be proud of who and what you are.” 

The blue children would go home and ask, “Why can’t we play with the reds?”  The elder blues would explain, “What a silly question, it’s because those other children aren’t blue.  Doesn’t that seem logical?  This world has many colors, if we mixed up, how would you know what you are.  Blues should stay with blues, reds with reds and yellows with yellows.  Otherwise all we would get is a bunch of mixed up colors.  The world would become black and dark.  There would be no order.”  The blue children asked, “Is there something wrong with mixed up colors?  Have you ever seen mixed up colors?”  The elder blues looked at one another and smiled, “You know, when we were young, we often thought of mixing the colors, just as you do.  But we eventually realized that blues should stay with the blues.  After all, isn’t the sky blue, we should tolerate the other colors and we do, by providing them with the sky?  Look into the heavens and isn’t it blue?  If the yellows or reds, don’t like our sky, they could leave, since they stay, they must like it the way it is.  We think it best that you stay with our own kind.  It was good enough for me; it was good enough for my grandfather and his mother before him.  Enough of this silly talk.”

The yellow children would ask their parents, “Father yellow, Mother yellow, why must we remain apart from the other children?”  The elder yellows would reply, “Children we love you for who you are.   Our ancestors the sun and the stars shine for all.  This is where we came from, the sun and stars.  We shine on all.  However, while shining upon all, isn’t the sky still the sky, the sun still the sun and the fire still fire.  This is the way of the world, the blues with the blues, the yellows with the yellows and the reds with the reds.  Now go to sleep my children and rest.”

Time slowly passed, in this land not very bright or light.  At about the same time, within each of these families, a very special child was born.  Each of these children listened to the stories of their family histories and loved them.  However, questions arose within each of them.  The red child began to wonder, “When I walk in the sun, I feel the same warmth as that of my ancestor the fire.  I wonder what that means?”  The blue child wondered, “I can see the sky and it is vast and beautiful.  However, if the Sun were not out, would I be able to see the blue?”  The yellow child wondered, “The Sun provides for all of us, it is warm like fire.  With the Sun and fire, I can see the blue sky, isn’t it all a part of the same thing?”  These questions persisted within each child and one day they left their families to find the answer to their questions.

Each of these children, missing their families, walked and walked.  Without their knowing it, they were all walking in the same direction from different points.  As they neared one another, they each experienced something miraculous.  This land that wasn’t very bright or light, began to change.  They saw upon each of their horizons, lightness and brightness.  From these different points, they began to run towards the light.  As little red, blue and yellow ran, they suddenly ran into one another.  Great fear filled each of them, for the stories of the mixed colors had been taught well and each had listened.  Yet at that same moment of great fear, a great energy burst forth.  They each joined one another and began to sail across the sky, red with blue, blue with yellow, yellow with red.  Across the land of not bright or light, a wondrously bright and light rainbow filled the sky.  Upon each of their families this great and wondrous white light, a mixing of the colors, brought joy and happiness.  A rainbow of light filled the world, awakening the families of red, yellow and blue.

Once upon a time there was a land not very bright or light.  Yet, through the questions of three children, a wondrous joining of colors began.  This is the story of our land of bright and light.  To the great joy of the families of red, yellow and blue, it was not blackness, that was created and the colors did not need to mix into nothingness.  Rather, through the joining of the hands of the children of color, great light filled the land.  Our lives are the new stories of the families in the land of bright and light.

 -J.K. Hirano