Worshipping our ancestors is part of our custom. After living in Hawaii, I sense that young Americans do not pay much attention to their ancestors. I also sense that they are not making food or water offerings to their ancestors. This is probably influenced by Christianity
In Christianity, the belief is that Adam and Eve were created by God, and we are their descendants, and have nothing to do with our ancestors. How do Buddhists think? We have a father and a mother. The lives of both our fathers and mothers come together, and we are a product of this union. The same goes for our parents. They are descended from our grandparents. Our lives go back to the beginning of mankind. Life has continued, and the lineage has never been broken. The Japanese say that we are linked to our ancestors, and we are grateful for that.
Does this mean that we, as Japanese Buddhists do not believe in God? No, the Japanese respect and revere our ancestors who are a god to us. From the beginning of time, the Japanese would offer the first crop of rice to our ancestors who are gods, and celebrated by partaking food with them. We call this symbiosis, a close relationship between different people, and a part of Japanese civilization. Buddhism arrived in Japan, and taught us to be one with our ancestors. That is why in Buddhism, it is part of our culture to worship our ancestors.
The people in the world, ancestor worship is an important practice. This is because every human being has a mother and a father. No matter what happens, a parent will protect the offspring. So, although our ancestors have passed on, they continue to think of us. We should be grateful for this, and as a human being, it is the right thing to do. If you continue to respect and be grateful to your ancestors, happiness will come your way, no matter what your ethnic origin is. I have met with families who come to this temple, and those who have been praying for their ancestors. They come here once a year for the memorial service, and offer prayers of gratitude. They have few family problems, are surrounded by children who will succeed them, and continue to prosper. Those who have abandoned their ancestors, and only think of running their businesses, will face problems. You may not be blessed with children, and your family may end with one generation.If you pray for your ancestors,your ancestors will watch over you. They may even protect you from serious illnesses or accidents. Your happiness is the wish of your ancestors. It would be very sad if you were forgotten by those who are precious to you. By the same token, your ancestors would be saddened if you forgot about them. That is why you should continue to respect and be grateful to your ancestors.