Headquarters of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist temples of the continental United States. North America District home of Hongwanji-ha, based in Kyoto, Japan.
Guided by Shinran Shonin's teachings and Amida's compassion, we recite Namo Amida Butsu in gratitude. The national headquarters for 61 temples in the continental United States of Jodo Shinshu Buddhist (Hongwanji-ha), which follows the Hongwanji in Kyoto, or more commonly known as Nishi Hongwanji. Over 100 years of history in the U.S. and is associated with the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada and the Hompa Hongwanji of Hawai[i Mission. The National Headquarters also has a second location, BCA Jodo Shinshu Center at 2140 Durant Street in Berkeley, CA. Originally the organization was known as the Hongwanji Mission of North America.
Mission: To propagate the teachings of Shinran in the United States.
Operating as usual
Happy Bodhi Day. On this day, Siddhartha Gautama attainted enlightenment, becoming Shakyamuni Buddha.
Rev. Dr. Takashi Miyaji's interview on NPR's Morning Edition this morning. Listen to Sensei discuss Bodhi Day and chant the Vandana & Ti-Sarana.
npr.org NPR's Scott Simon asks Takashi Miyaji of the Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church in Union City, Calif., about Bodhi Day on December 8.
Rev. Dr. Takashi Miyaji of the Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church will be featured tomorrow on NPR "Weekend Edition" with Scott Simon! He will talk about Buddhism and the significance of Bodhi Day.
This interview aired Saturday, December 5, 2020 and is now available on the NPR site here: https://n.pr/2JuXK4Q
Today is #GivingTuesday, but we know that your giving extends beyond one day. With grateful hearts we thank our members and friends for all that you give throughout the year to your temples and BCA programs.
The Social Welfare Fund supports those suffering from deprivations of basic human needs. During this momentous year, the Fund has directed nearly $70,000 in grants to food/hunger programs, Western region wildfire relief, and charities connected to local temples.
The Dana Program supports annual operations of the Center for Buddhist Education and Institute of Buddhist Studies. Funds collected through January will be applied to next year’s education programs.
Please consider making an online gift to support our programs via http://bca.kindful.com. Thank you again for your support.
What Is the Meaning of ‘Legacy’?
By Rev. John Iwohara, Gardena Buddhist Church
Legacy: Anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor: "the legacy of ancient Rome."
The above is one of the definitions for the term “legacy” as defined for us by Random House through its Dictionary.com website. I wanted to quote this definition because of how it seems to me that we have recently been changing the way that we use words like “legacy.”
Although the sample sentence given in the definition is “the legacy of ancient Rome,” and more or less describes what we — the future — received from our past, the way that we tend to use the word legacy today is, “What will you do to establish your legacy?” or “What legacy do you hope to create?”
Whereas the use of the word legacy in this context appears to focus on what can be done in the present, it is probably more accurate to say that it is focused on the individual. If legacy, used in this way, is about the person, then the focus of legacy has changed.
Instead of being focused on what has been handed down from a previous generation or culture, it is more focused on the potential future status of a particular person. In the original use of the word, individuals received and then participated in a legacy. It was not something that one consciously worked to create. A person can contribute toward a legacy, and there are certainly accomplishments that one can achieve within a legacy, but the focus was always on what was received. It was never something that an individual purposely created in the hopes of being remembered by the future.
I wanted to share this because Shinran Shonin, the founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, does speak about legacy. He frequently expresses his joy in being able to participate in the legacy of the Buddha-Dharma. He states, for example:
"How joyous I am, Gutoku Shinran, disciple of Sakyamuni. Rare is it to come upon the sacred scriptures from the westward land of India and the commentaries of the masters of China and Japan, but now I have been able to encounter them. Rare is it to hear them, but already I have been able to hear.
Reverently entrusting myself to the teaching, practice, and realization that are the true essence of the Pure Land way, I am especially aware of the profundity of the Tathagata's benevolence. Here I rejoice in what I have heard and extol what I have attained. "
— “Collected Works of Shinran,” Page 4 (Passage from General Preface of the Kyogyoshinsho)
Further, in the concluding line of the “Shoshin Nenbutsu-ge,” Shinran Shonin writes:
"With the same mind, all people of the present, whether monk or lay,
Should rely wholly on the teachings of these venerable masters."
— “CWS,” Page 74
From the time Rennyo Shonin made the “Shoshin Nenbutsu-ge” part of the daily morning ritual at the Hongwanji, every time we chant it at any of our BCA temples we are reminding ourselves that right here and right now we are participating in and contributing toward the legacy of the Nenbutsu or Namo Amida Butsu. We, like Shinran Shonin, are able to “rejoice in what we have heard, and extol what we have attained.”
From the November issue of the "Wheel of Dharma" newsletter:
Photo by Joe Gotchy
We Need to Wake Up and Do the Right Thing
Rev. Matt Hamasaki, Buddhist Church of Sacramento
A little over a year ago, climate change activist Greta Thunberg wrote, “When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning! I have Asperger’s and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And — given the right circumstances — being different is a superpower.”
I look at the world around me today and I could not agree more that right now we need something different. We need a change. And not only in how we treat our planet, our home, but in just about every aspect of our lives. For too long as a society we have been driven by selfishness, ignorance, and hate and it has eroded us to where we are now.
While this may seem like an onerous task and a bleak outlook, from the Jodo Shinshu perspective, this sort of scenario is exactly what we needed to wake up and do the right thing.
The most clichéd way of putting it might be like a phoenix rising from the ashes. From a less popular standpoint but still clichéd in the Jodo Shinshu circles, it is like ice melting into water: the more the ice, the more the water.
Our failure to address our inadequacies has been built up so large over time that we are now in a position not to just see the holes in our society but exasperated enough to demand something better. When I say demand, I do not mean to pass the buck to someone else. More than one issue has been perpetuated with that kind of thinking. I mean that we must demand it of ourselves. Perhaps if we were all Buddha, we could connect all the dots and recognize what we would have to do to create a better world. But alas, we are human and the only thing we are barely even capable of changing is our own actions.
Are we holding ourselves accountable for our choices, whether it is our activity or our indifference? Are we educating ourselves or making excuses for distracting ourselves from the suffering around us? Are we holding the people who represent us in leadership positions in every community we belong to or blindly following?
These questions are difficult, and the answers are not absolute. But by asking them, we are finally stepping into the light. Amida Buddha exists as Infinite Wisdom and Compassion. For too long have we been living ignorant and apathetic. To be on this new path will be unusual and, honestly, quite arduous. It is tiresome to learn something new and stumbling along the way can be discouraging. However, I have faith in the people around me and I have faith in the future. Oftentimes, people have equated Shinjin to faith to much debate. Perhaps some of this faith is the Shinjin directed to me by Amida Buddha.
But recently I have interpreted another aspect of the Shinjin that may not have been so deeply discussed; that a requisite facet of Shinjin is dedication. No matter what faculties a person may have, all people are capable of being dedicated to something. Sometimes, it becomes their superpower. In my own experience, the people who I am convinced have Shinjin are undoubtedly the most dedicated.
So, I ask of you, reader of this article, dedicate yourself to a less selfish, more compassionate world. In the face of unfavorable circumstances, reject the idea that life must be this way, deny the lazy tendency to lean toward the status quo and create something unfamiliar. Doubt the way you think and question your elected officials. Push yourself to uncomfortable situations that will move the needle towards understanding and kindness. And if you are already doing so, keep on going. Obviously, if we were able to see a payoff, that would be ideal, but it will be slow and if we cannot witness the end, do not give up.
I will close with one of my favorite proverbs: “a society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
Because of the greed in our society, right now we are sitting in the scorching sun. I’ll ask one final question: We may not be old, but what trees are you planting?
From the November issue of the "Wheel of Dharma" newsletter:https://www.buddhistchurchesofamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2020_11_wod.pdf
Photo by Mike Payne on Unsplash
Upcoming event at member temple Berkeley Buddhist Temple.
The Berkeley Buddhist Temple is holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance Memorial Service at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 20.
By holding this service, we are expressing our love and support of the transgender community and that we will not forget our transgender family.
The online service is being organized by Rev. CJ Sokugan Dunford and will be accessible on the temple's Facebook and YouTube sites. Buddhist Churches of America Institute of Buddhist Studies Bradley Menda Kiyonobu Kuwahara Rumi Taylor
A Renewed Faith in Our Youth
By Rev. Marvin Harada, Bishop of the BCA
On Sept. 6, I participated in the annual Southern District Jr. YBL conference. I have attended this conference for the past 34 years as a minister. And when I was a minister at the Orange County Buddhist Church, the OCBC hosted the conference a number of times.
The young people look forward to this conference because it is held at a hotel and we all get to stay overnight. The kids stay up till all hours of the night and there is a banquet and dance in which everyone gets dressed up and takes memorable pictures.
However, this year’s conference was different than all of the past 34 years that I have attended. It was different than all 69 previous years of the Southern District conferences. What made it different was that it was held “virtually” because of the coronavirus pandemic that we are all enduring.
The young people, especially the cabinet of the S.D. Jr. YBL, put this together, and we all met by Zoom over the internet. There were approximately 150 people attending, and some were Zooming in from Hawaii and other YBA chapters outside of the Southern District.
I was so impressed by our young people. They could have just totally cancelled the conference because of the virus. But these young people decided to make the best of the situation and they put it on virtually for the safety of everyone.
We had an opening service, a wonderful Dharma talk by Rev. Jon Turner, and there were videos and slide shows of the events of the past year. Nobody sulked about not being able to have an in-person conference. Nobody complained about all the fun they were missing out on because of the virus. They did their very best to put on a meaningful conference, despite the circumstances. We even had the installation of the new cabinet, all of whom are enthused and excited about another new year in Jr. YBA.
They chose a very appropriate theme, “Sharing the Dharma Virtually.” Actually, this could be a theme for the entire BCA. We have to find the most effective way to share the Dharma virtually during this pandemic crisis. If we can find an effective way to do that, then we will have truly planted the seeds of the Nembutsu in this culture.
There is a lot that we can learn from these young people. We can learn from their optimism. We can learn from their enthusiasm. We can learn from their sincere desire to make new friends and to widen the circle of their Sangha. We can learn from their dedication. We can learn from their spirit and their spontaneity.
Sometimes we adults get a little bleak in looking at the future of the BCA and our churches and temples. We see declining membership. We see financial challenges. We see aging buildings that need repair. But what I saw and experienced obliterates any doubt or pessimism about our future. Our future is in good hands. Our young people are solid. They are grounded in the Dharma. They have a spiritual maturity way beyond what I was like when I was their age.
My hats off to the young people who put together the conference, but also to all of the young people at the local level that are involved in their YBA chapters and temples. They work hard at the Obons and the bazaars. They wash dishes. They take out the trash. They sweep the floor. They put away tables and chairs. Why do they do it? Because their temple means something to them. Because Buddhism means something to them. Because their Sangha means something to them.
May these outstanding young people continue on this path of the Nembutsu in earnest, and without a doubt, they will carry on the torch of the Dharma to future generations.
This article appeared in the November issue of the "Wheel of Dharma" newsletter:https://www.buddhistchurchesofamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2020_11_wod.pdf
Of Halloween, Masks, and Nembutsu Teachings
By Rev. Candice Shibata, Buddhist Church of Stockton
I think I say this every month, but last month flew by! I still cannot believe that the year is almost over! However, before we ring out 2020, many of us may be reflecting upon this upcoming holiday season and wondering if we should or can spend the holidays with our extended family members.
I always look forward to seeing my family and enjoying (too much) delicious foods at our family gatherings, which warms my heart and my tummy. The pandemic has definitely shed some light on the gratitude of being able to freely see our loved ones prior to March of this year.
Speaking of the holiday season, Halloween always seems to be the observance that kicks off the festivities at the end of the year with the abundance of shared sweets and candies. To be honest, I was never too fond of Halloween.
I believe that it is mostly due to being afraid of Halloween masks, which began early on in my life and continues to be a memory that still gives me shivers when I think about it. It may even contribute to my love of comedies instead of scary movies.
Despite the distance between our family in California and my mother’s family in New York City, we still had many opportunities to visit with each other during vacations and are still very close.
I remember our cousin coming for a visit in California and while he stayed with us, he scared me (multiple times) with a Halloween mask of an old man. I am sure it was funny for my older cousin, but no matter how much I may have anticipated his teasing, it completely scared me!
Looking back, this mask was not gory or particularly scary. However, it was being caught off guard seeing him in that mask as an old man that scared me the most. As a young child, I may not have completely understood the reality of aging and how it affects all of us. I can only imagine how Siddhartha Gautama felt as he left the comforts of the palace for the first time and encountered the sights of an old man, an ill man and lastly, a man who passed away.
During these outings, Siddhartha Gautama was accompanied by an attendant who revealed to the young prince that all living beings experience this process of life. These encounters, in addition to meeting an ascetic who was living a simple life, compelled Prince Siddhartha to leave the palace to search how to end suffering.
As humans we also wear masks that prevent us from seeing reality clearly, others and ourselves, which in turn causes suffering. These masks blind us in the form of greed, anger and ignorance. Sometimes our own insecurities create masks we wear so we can feel brave when facing others.
However, the teachings of the Buddha and Shinran Shonin can give us strength and comfort to help us to remove our masks of greed, anger, ignorance and insecurities to live our lives with gratitude and humility.
Rev. Shibata wrote this article for the October newsletters of the Buddhist Church of Stockton, Buddhist Church of Lodi and the Walnut Grove Buddhist Church. We are reprinting this with the kind permission of Rev. Shibata.
From the October issue of the Wheel of Dharma newsletter:https://www.buddhistchurchesofamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2020_10_wod.pdf
Photo by Finan Akbar on Unsplash
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Camp Three Holy Youths at St. Sava Mission is a St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church Camping Ministry Program. Also involved are other Orthodox Churches
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Predicamos el mesanje de Hechos 2:38 "Arrepentíos, y bautícese cada uno de vosotros en el nombre de Jesucristo para perdón de los pecados;
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