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Our Debt of Gratitude

August 07, 2021

by Rev. Kathy

Rev. Anne, Mike Iseri, and I completed the 2021 Obon cemetery visitations last week. Visiting the different cemeteries is a reminder of how much I owe to so many people. Because we are all interdependent and interconnected, it is mind-boggling to consider how many people have touched my life.

Buddhist ministers/ priests at cemetery Obon

Each one of us owes a debt of gratitude to a multitude of beings throughout our lives and beyond. We are lucky to live at this time as a human being, having the ability to listen to the Teachings of the Buddha and our founder, Shinran Shonin.

Here is a short story to illustrate how precious our lives are. This story comes from the website

“…Buddha’s own words from the Sutra Containing the Excellent.

‘If there were a huge, deep ocean as big as this entire world with a golden yoke floating on its surface, and, at the bottom, there were a crippled, blind turtle who surfaced only once in a hundred years, how often would that turtle raise its head through the yoke?”  Such an event would be extremely rare, but not as rare as gaining the birth of leisure and fortune.’  (Quoted from Path to Enlightenment in Tibetan Buddhism by Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden, page 211).”


Sea turtle swimming



There are different variations of this story of the turtle, but the message is clear. We are so lucky to be who we are at this time and place. We owe a debt of gratitude to our parents and the generations that came before them. If not for everything in our past history coming together in just the right way, we would not have our present lives.


We owe so much to our family and friends. We can never do enough to repay that debt. One small way to show our gratitude to all the generations that have made our lives possible is to make the best of the lives that we have been given and make every effort to make our moments count.



Rev. Kathy Chatterton

Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple


Buddhist minister/priest