The Rainbow Connection

Those of you who attended this year’s Father’s Day “All Music Service” saw Freddie the Frog’s singing debut with Christina Aguinaga, singing the Kermit the frog’s song, “The Rainbow Connection.” If you missed the service you can visit the OCBC Facebook page, click on “videos,” and you can see the video there.
The words to “The Rainbow Connection” are actually very nice. It goes as follows:

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions but only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong wait and see
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
Who said that every wish could be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it;
Look what it’s done so far.
What’s so amazing that keeps us
star-gazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

(Words and music by Paul Williams and Kenneth L. Ascher)

Rainbows are a beautiful metaphor for hope, wishes, and dreams. Who knows if there isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Just to see a rainbow takes our breath away. It is beautiful, but also brief and fleeting. I know there is a scientific reason for how rainbows appear, but I can’t explain it. I know it has something to do with rain droplets and the sunlight and all that, but we don’t have to know how rainbows work scientifically to enjoy their beauty.

In the “Rainbow Connection” song, originally sung by Kermit the frog, Kermit leads us to dream of the end of the rainbow, or the other side of the rainbow, to find our “rainbow connection,” to find the connection, to “realize” our dreams, our hopes and our aspirations. That’s how I see the lyrics of this beautiful song.

Shin Buddhism is based on a sutra or sermon of the Shakyamuni Buddha called the “Larger Sutra.” The full title is the Larger Sutra on Immeasurable Life. In this sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha tells a timeless story that expresses the deepest heart of the Buddha. At the same time, this story expresses what is at the deepest heart of all beings.

The main part of this sutra is the section of the 48 vows, in which the hero of the story, the main character, a Bodhisattva named Dharmakara, expresses in detail his aspiration to become a Buddha, an enlightened one, and to also save or liberate all beings. On one hand, Dharmakara’s vows could look like mere pipe dreams, like wishing for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. However, when we study and reflect on this sutra, it is about both the aspiration, or the dream, and the realization or actualization of the dream.

For countless centuries over the span of perhaps two thousand years, this sutra has inspired and nurtured Buddhists from India, to China, to Japan. The story of Bodhisattva Dharmakara, who vows to become a Buddha and to save all sentient beings, who “connects” his dreams, his aspirations, with the fulfillment of his vows, this story has been the source of the spiritual liberation of multitudes. Now the Shin Buddhist teachings and this sutra are making its way to this country, and this sutra will continue to spiritually liberate those who encounter it.

Think of some of the amazing people in the history of time who had a dream, a vision, and who also fulfilled their dream and vision - Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, to name a few. Others continue to work to fulfill their dreams and aspirations, like the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh.

Even here at OCBC, we have had both dreams and fulfillment of dreams. Our 50th anniversary project of building a new social hall and to remodel our hondo is just weeks now from completion. There is another side of the rainbow. We are almost there.

The beautiful song “The Rainbow Connection” encourages us to dream and work to fulfill our dreams. The Larger Sutra encourages us to receive the heart of the Buddha, that both aspires for the enlightenment of all beings, and actualizes that path to enlightenment for all beings through the Nembutsu, Namuamidabutsu.

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Namuamidabutsu,
Rev. Marvin Harada