THE LIGHT OF THE BUDDHA

Steveston Buddhist Temple
4360 Garry Street Richmond, B.C. V7E 2V2
January 2007


Every Sunday
10:30 am - Dharma Service
11:30 am - Sangha Gathering
JANUARY 2007
01 (Mon) 10:30 a.m.
07 (Sun) 10:30 a.m.
08 (Sat) 7:30 p.m.
14 (Sun) 10:30 a.m.
14 (Sun) 2:00 p.m.
21 (Sun) 10:00 a.m.
21 (Sun) 1:00 p.m.
28 (Sun) 1:00 p.m.
New Year’s Day Service (Shusho-e)
January Memorial Shotsuki
January Board Meeting
Vancouver Hoonko & Shotsuki (No Service at Steveston)
Fujinkai AGM
Dharma Service Begins
New Year Engeikai Concert by Senior Club
Steveston AGM

FEBRUARY 2007
04 (Sun) 10:30 a.m.
11 (Sun) 10:00 a.m.
11 (Sun) 10:30 a.m.
12 (Mon) 7:30 p.m.
16 to 18 (Friday - Sunday)
18 (Sun) 10:30 a.m.
25 (Sun) 2:00 p.m.
Memorial Service (Shotsuki)
Dharma School (Theme: Compassion, Activity: Baking cookies & making cards)
Nirvana Day (Nehan-e)
SBT Board Meeting
North West Buddhist Convention in White River, Tukwila, Washington
Dharma Service (No Minister)
Fujinkai Dana Day


NEW YEAR’S GREETING

“Immeasurable Light and Life.”

At the beginning of the year, I would like to send you my greetings. May we all continue to live every day of this year in appreciation of the Nembutsu.

At the Hongwanji the restoration work of the Goeido (The Hall of the founder Shinran Shonin) which began eight years ago, is near completion. In the end of last fall, the shelter canopy was removed and the entire roof of the hall has now become visible again.

A certain percentage of old tiles that were made two hundred years as well as three hundred seventy years ago were also reused and you can tell the enthusiasm and high standard of professionalism in those days. The restoration project is scheduled to continue for two more years, mainly focusing on the interior of the hall, and for the most part, the altar area.

Although the preparation for the seven hundred fiftieth memorial for Shinran Shonin has been in steadily progress in the term of the buildings and other structures of the Hongwanji, with regard to the attitude and action of each one of us, there seems to be much that still needs to be done.

Traditional systems and rites are important and are the basis of our religious organization. However they might be difficult to follow for those who were born and raised in the districts that are far away from the Hongwanji. In addition, some of those traditions may not be essential for them. In these cases, I wonder if there is a short cut to present and inform them the way of life “to hear the Primal Vow and recite the Nembutsu.” Although such ways and means as publications and computers are increasingly available, nothing is more important than the human relationships. This is because we can realize the working of Amida Buddha through people who live in the Nembutsu.

Let us tackle with the sufferings of the modern people while talking about the Dharma using the modern language, and live together intoning the Nembutsu.

OHTANI Koshin Monshu,
Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha


JOBUTSU: TO ATTAIN BUDDHAHOOD

Happy New Year! On this issue, I would like to share about becoming a Buddha, Jobutsu, in the Pure Land Buddhist teaching… Jobutsu means to become a Buddha. Particularly in Japan, it is used when someone passes away; people say “Jobutsu shita”…

I am 35 years old. You might think I am too young to think about my death. But I think it really depends on individual character, experiences and environment. Since I was 3 years old, I felt very empty because I had a very serious question resulting from death of many ants that died under my feet… I was a unique child and my parents were worried about me. During kindergarten time, I was very quiet but always asked my mother “Why was I born just to die eventually like these ants?” My mother always answered me with a perplexed expression, “Oh, Masumi. Don’t think too much. You are too young to think about these topics. You’d better play with your friends in the play ground!” But I kept asking my friends and family, “I know I must die someday like those ants. So why was I born?” When I asked, everyone stared quizzically at me and did not answer. When I started going to elementary school, I naturally stopped asking this question.

When I was 24 years old, my brother had entered Shin Buddhist studies at Ryukoku University as he was going to be a minister in the future. Unfortunately, in a tragic automobile accident on October 2, 1995, his life was taken from him suddenly. When we went to the crematorium after the funeral at our temple and saw his white ashes, we dissolved into tears. He had no face, hair, smile and a voice anymore… I recognised, “I must be like this sooner or later”. And my question from my childhood suddenly burst into the big hole in my heart, “Why was I born just to die eventually?” The question of “death” became a serious issue to me again. I realized that we cannot escape this reality…

Recently, I had an appointment to see a person facing his own death. Throughout our conversation, I just tried to concentrate on listening to his words instead of pushing my opinions. Firstly, he described his life. He loves his family and is proud of his life. And now he was describing and facing inevitable death while planning his own funeral… Through his words and expression, I felt the depth of his grief.

Death seems to deny our present life, such as enjoying time with family and friends, making efforts through working hard to have good life, having a big house, eating delicious food and enjoying hobbies... But we should recognize we all die eventually. No one can replace them. When we die, we lose them all. We have to be ready to lose such attachments.

We often say, “You have a great long life!” when the person lives very long. We might admire the person as if he was a winner of life. But we sometimes see that the longer we live, the more we suffer from the parting of our loved ones. Remaining in this world with grief might be harder than to go to the Pure Land… Who is a real winner of life in the eyes of Buddha? I think the real winner is the person who overcomes the delusion created by our ego and finds precious meaning from his or her daily life and finds equally precious meaning from his or her death.

Shinran Shonin describes “Jobutsu, to attain Buddhahood” in his work Hymns of the Pure Land as follows:

Attaining Buddhahood through the Nembutsu is the true essence of the Pure Land way;
The myriad practices and good acts are the temporary gate.
Unless one distinguishes the accommodated and the real, the temporary and the true,
One cannot possibly know the Pure Land that is naturalness (jinen).
(Jodo Wasan, Hymns of the Pure Land Nr.71)

In the Pure Land Buddhism, “Jobutsu”, to become a Buddha has sense “to face our death” and also “acceptance of death”. It means, when we end this life, we distinguish our limitless desires, blind passions, love, hatred, attachments and all sufferings which come from mental and physical states.

Shinran Shonin sees that we human beings have no abilities to become a Buddha through any self-practice in this world. This is truly unique, when compared to other Buddhist schools because they emphasize meditation and rigorous practices and the followers obey very strict rules during this life as Buddhists. Shinran Shonin says, we, Bonbu don’t have any possibility to become a Buddha before our death… Instead to live as Buddhist which sounds very much like following the path of self-practice, Shinran Shonin lived as a Bonbu which means abandoning any self practice and accepting to live a life full of blind passions with the aspiration of rebirth. But through such very deep self reflection, he could become a person who really needs Amida’s salvation. This unique Pure Land teaching gives us “non-ego” way during our life, which says “Don’t rely on your self, just rely on Amida Buddha.”

I sometimes see the TV commercial saying, “Life is Good!” The Nembutsu teaching completely converts us from “Life is Good!” to “Life is Good! And also Death has Great Meaning, too!” Amida Buddha tells us, “Your Life is a life to become a Buddha in the Pure Land eventually. Now you can just do Nembutsu, recite my Name, “Namo-Amidabutsu” with your aspiration to be reborn into the Pure Land, My Land’.

What is Buddha? In the Japanese Buddhist dictionary, it says, “The Enlightened one”, “One who knows the truth of all things”. We also explain, “One who is awakened into the realm of Oneness”, “One who has no borders between anything such as between you and I, love and hate, and life and death” or “One who completely liberates us from the suffering”.

I mentioned that in the Pure Land teaching there is a sense to become a Buddha is to end this life…

The holiday season gives us pleasure and dreams of prosperity and many people like it. However during the time; I hear about a lot of people committing suicides. Particularly in Western society with a Christmas tradition, heavy pressures and depressions are created by propagandas, saying “YOU MUST”. Under such pressure, some people might feel all alone. Feeling lonely might be the hardest suffering. I cannot judge anyone, who commits suicide. Because Buddha tells us all lives have same quality and preciousness… However, we never encourage suicide even though it may be liberation from all sufferings from this world…

Nembutsu teaching tells us, when we accept our afterlife to live as a Buddha, we can see the true meaning of our present life, which is daily repetition of encountering the Nembutsu teaching and confirming how Buddha tells the truth through the deep listening...

Please enjoy your daily life having fun; however please don’t forget our destination…

Gassho, Masumi Kikuchi


NEW YEAR ENGEIKAI CONCERT
** Sponsored by the Steveston Buddhist Temple Seniors’ Club **

Sunday, January 21st, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. - Steveston Buddhist Temple (Gym)

The Seniors’ Club extends our best wishes to everyone !

A New Year Engeikai Concert will be held by the Seniors’ club as noted above. We all missed your presence at the 2006 concert. We are going to present the same program that received positive feedback. Non-members and families are all welcome ! Please come and join us!! ** for further information, contact Mr. Toshio Murao (604) 277-2362 Mr. Hayao Sakai (604) 277-1940



MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT - Larry Ryan

I’m writing this at the height of the holiday season. The message from the media seems to be, to buy as much as you can as soon as you can, and by the way maybe consider the spiritual or religious aspect of the season.

For once people might consider the plight of others in passing … perhaps help out at a soup kitchen, donate clothing, toys or food. The media is alive with seasonal stories and entertainment. The sounds of the season are everywhere.

Though I was born into western society, I find this aspect a bit foreign. Attending temple this time of the year offers me a quiet refuge. I take comfort in the gathas, sutras and of course, the sangha. It gives me the opportunity to think about people of other faiths and how they might be faring during this season.

We will be celebrating Joya E on the 31st of December. This is not a New Year’s celebration but a year end celebration.

So though we, Shin Buddhists celebrate our own events, coinciding with the Christmas/New Year’s season, we should consider the significance and importance of our faith. We need to study and practice our tradition, so that we can share with others.


BCC UPDATE JANUARY 2007 FROM THE OFFICE OF BISHOP

January is the month of HO-ON-KO (gathering of Thanksgiving Memorial Service of Shinran Shonin), which is the most important service in a year in our tradition. It is not only the opportunity for us to pay tribute to his 90 years of life from 1173 to 1262 during the turbulent era of Kamakura period, but also to review our Shinjin awareness once a year just like you have annual medical check-up.

Shinran Shonin created many Wasan (poems) to explain the meaning of scripture, so that ordinary people could better understand. Here is one of them in the Chapter of last dharma-age.

Realization of true and real shinjin
Is rare in the defiled world of the last dharma-age;
The witness of Buddhas countless as the sands of the Ganges
Reveals how difficult it is to attain.

The reason we put the stress in Shinjin in our Jodo Shinshu tradition is the fact that it is unique and different from the faith in other religions. It is not simply the act of believing something unknown. Shinjin is the awareness of Great Compassion that belongs to Amida Buddha, who constantly tries to reach us. Because it belongs to the Buddha, it is not something we can hold and keep. We only hear His Compassionate Vow to save us who are lost in the world of Five Defilements. All we can hold and keep is the Nembutsu, which is the essence of Shinjin. Whenever we hear of and appreciate the Vow, we simply recite namo-amida-butsu, which gives us strength to carry on this human life with peace of mind.

Shinjin comes from the Compassion of Amida Buddha and its existence is something like AIR. Although we cannot hold or keep, we are rather WITHIN it from the beginning. Therefore we say we are always EMBRACED by Amida Buddha. We don’t need to hold it, but we can only appreciate with gratitude.

May you attend the Ho-on-ko at your nearest temple and continue to cherish the Nembutsu.
Namoamidabutsu, Orai Fujikawa


FUJINKAI NEWS - Hiroko Yoshihara

Reminders to end 2006:
Our soft goods drive (clothing, bedding, towels, fabric, etc.) continues into 2007. The goal of 75 bags is within reach if we all gather up no longer needed items in our homes. If you only have a few pieces, these will all add up. We hope to conclude this by the last week of February when we ask that your collection be brought to the Temple. Due to shortage of space, it is hoped that in one week 75 bags will be gathered and then picked up by either Developmental Disabilities Association or Canadian Diabetes.

Used stamps with ½ inch borders are also desired as part of our BCCWF ongoing project. PLEASE DO NOT TEAR AS THIS MAKES THE STAMP OF NO VALUE. If you do not wish to cut, please forward entire envelopes. Save the Children organization sells these used stamps to stamp stores and the proceeds are used for the benefit of children in developing countries. The ladies of the Richmond group work hard selling handicrafts at the Steveston Craft Fair and sorting the stamps.

Our official name for banking purposes is: Steveston Buddhist Temple Women’s Auxiliary, NOT “Steveston Fujinkai”, “Fujinkai”.

January 14, 2007 is the date of our AGM. Please note that the time is 2:00 pm. this year. More willing hands are needed for our tobans and floater group. Occasional assistance also would be appreciated. Thank you everyone for your support in 2006.

TEMPLE CLEAN UP

Approximately 55 members showed up on a sunny clear day to share the tasks to spruce up the temple for the coming year. Due to a wonderful response, we were able to do additional tasks in a shorter amount of time. Thank you to everyone for giving up precious time during the busy season.

CLOTH TOTE BAGS (FOR SHOPPING)

These are available at the Temple for $5.00 each. This is a project of the Temple’s Youth Group in their effort to help the environment. There are two original designs.

HERRY TREE PLANTING PROJECT - Jim Tanaka, Heritage Preservation Committee

Wakayama Kenjin kai has planted 133 trees in Garry Point Park and to complete this project before 2010 Cherry Tree Blossom Festival, we are asking for donation from people who have not yet supported this worthwhile project for the city. Please forward your donation payable to: Cherry Tree Fund, c/o Keiji Nishi, 5850 Claredon Street, Vancouver, B.C. V5R 3K6. Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.


January 2007 Newsletter (Nihon-go)

January 2007 Newsletter PDF

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