THE LIGHT OF THE BUDDHA
Steveston Buddhist Temple
10:30 am - Dharma Service
11:30 am - Sangha Gathering
01 (Sun) 12:00 noon|
09 (Mon) 7:30 p.m.
15 (Mon) 2:00 p.m.
OPEN House (Salmon Festival)
Fraser Valley Buddhist Temple Obon
Vancouver Buddhist Temple Obon Service and Bon Dance
SBT Board Meeting
Obon, Memorial Service (Shotsuki) and Bon Dance
01-05 (Wed - Sun)|
08 (Wed) 2:00 p.m.
13 (Mon) 7:30 p.m.
19 (Sun) 10:30 a.m.
26 (Sun) 10:30 a.m.
JSBTC Ministerial Meeting & Lecture at University of Calgary
Nikkei Place Obon Service
SBT Board Meeting
The warm weather is very nice, however at the same time it creates “Global Warming Problem”. If we optimistically say, “Don’t worry!” in a human-centered way and ignore what is happening on this earth, I think we will definitely suffer the consequences sooner or later… In Buddhism, it is said that “everything is interconnected – Oneness of Life”. Buddha teaches us when we harm Mother Nature and other living beings; we should feel pain and sorrow... In this issue, I would like to share a Japanese book titled, “Kotoba no Chie wo Koete - Dogyo Sannin, Beyond the knowledge of language-Coming along with” written by Ko Samyong (???). It is a message to his 13 years old son, Masashi… Ko Samyong is a second generation Korean Japanese and was born in 1932. On July 17, 1972, Samyong tells what was happened on that day…
“Yes, you were still fine during the day. At least, your daddy thought you were fine. On this day, we went to the Ramen restaurant together. On the way, we talked about going to the sea during the summer holiday, which was coming soon. …When I remember you, something seemed wrong however, I thought it might be from the summer heat. Nobody could imagine it became the last meal we would have together. When we returned home, you said you had to go to the school to do something… But when it was getting dark outside, our anxiousness increased. Then we got a phone call from the police station. They told us to come to there immediately but did not tell us the reason. We had to anticipate a worst scenario. When we entered a dark room in the building, you laid on the bed. You had died. But your face seemed as if you were still alive and smiling. You looked very peaceful. Suddenly, I could not help feeling terrible and started crying loudly. You returned home in a casket and we slept beside the casket. You were between us… We could not stop crying. But your face was so peaceful…”
Machan, Samyong’s son had jumped from the high rise apartment. Samyong reflects the night when he encountered his son’s death and the tears which lead him to such religious works, as “Bible” and “Tannisho” which he read often when he was young. “Tannisho” is a record of Shinran Shonin’s words written by his disciple Yuien. When he read the Bible he found words which described exactly he felt, however, he could not find any such words from Tannisho, although he felt there must be very important message for him in it. But he was sure he heard a voice from Tannisho the night of his son’s death. He reflects, “Because I could not find it, I had to read Tannisho over and over. I started writing down each word of Tannisho as if I was carving each word in my heart. During this time I had to face my deep sorrow with fears, tears and prayer… Then we had a first New Year’s day without you…”
“Suddenly my wife told me, “Why don’t we go to Nara and Kyoto to visit the temples. We should see Buddha’s face and ask them about Ma-suke!” Her words broke the heavy atmosphere. If she did not say that, we might have fallen into the depth of darkness… In fact we had a very difficult time. We sometime lost control. There were many times your mom had to grasp very tightly the arms of the bench in the train station to keep from jumping into the train… To escape our very deep sorrow, we both felt death might give us comfort at that time.”
They went to many temples in Nara and Kyoto though they were not religious. Samyong and his wife finally arrived at Hongwanji temple. Here they experienced a big turning point.
“By accident we sat in the Hongwanji temple near by Kyoto station and remembered we came to this temple before waiting for our train… You were just 10 years old. Although we did not sit long in the temple, you sat down alone in front of Shinran Shonin’s statue by putting your hands together and didn’t move for quite a while…Now we were sitting in the same place and I remembered your face clearly. When I went out from the temple, your mom asked me, “What did Shinran Shonin say about Ma-suke? I asked Shinran Shonin, ‘Ma-suke is at your place now. Please take care of Ma-suke because he is just 13 years old…” When my wife told me, I almost nodded my head. But I said to her without thinking, “There is something wrong.” Suddenly the following words of Tannisho came to my mind: As for me, Shinran, I have never said the Nembutsu even once for the repose of my departed father and mother. For all sentient beings, without exception, have been our parents and brothers and sisters in the course of countless lives in the many states of existence. On attaining Buddhahood after this present life, we can save every one of them. Shinran Shonin finally gave me an answer. To live for my son is not asking my son’s repose to Buddhas. To live for him is recognizing that I have to live my life through accepting myself “as I am” by seeing the mirror of Nembutsu teaching…”
Samyong became Nembutsu follower led by his son.
“By the wisdom of Buddha, human beings can recognize their own darkness which see all lives just as possessions and lose the sense to see the great ocean of life. Ma-chan, I now feel the depth of darkness of human being under my feet. The root of life is not “human’s knowledge” which objectifies all lives and Mother Nature. The root of life is in nature, which is just “as is” because we have knowledge. This modern society seems very happy, however, it is superficial. When we see inside our society, there are many sufferings…In Amida Sutra there is a part about our darkness: “In this Saha world, during the evil period of the five defilements – those of time, views, passions, sentient beings, and life-span – you have attained the highest, perfect Enlightenment and, for the sake of sentient beings, have delivered this teaching, which is the most difficult in the world to accept in faith.” Ma-chan, we are living the time of five defilements and I, myself am defiled with darkness…The sutra says that the defilements are getting darker and darker. "
Further, Samyong tells his son about the darkness of human beings. “We, human beings came from nature; however we walked away from nature and even go further. Where are we going? Your favourite book was “Little Prince”. The prince talked about the knowledge of adults which is filled with calculation with no eyes to see the truth, “as it is”. Ma-chan, you suffered from the darkness of humans which comes from our knowledge. But language, knowledge and science made human beings as human beings. Now we have created a big gap between nature and human beings. And this dark gap seems to give us sufferings… How Shinran Shonin sees his own darkness and light of Buddha’s wisdom? In his works, he calls himself, “Gutoku Syaku no Ran” which means “Foolish and Bald-head Shinran”.
How deep is Shinran Shonin’s “Zan-Gi ”, “deep repentance”…? Ma-chan, now I can see straight the name of “Foolish and Bald-head Shinran”. I now understand it is okay being defiled in the darkness. The importance is whether we can face and put our hands together in Gassho to our darkness. That is why, Buddha embrace our darkness in his compassion. I bow to Shinran Shonin who lived with his own darkness. In the postscript of Tannisho, we can see Shinran Shonin’s Zan-Gi following: I know nothing at all of good or evil. For if I could know thoroughly, as Amida Tathagata knows that an act was good, and then I would know good. If I could know thoroughly, as the Tathagata knows, that an act was evil, then I would know evil. But with a foolish being full of blind passions, in this fleeting world- this burning house- all matters without exception are empty and false, totally without truth and sincerity. The Nembutsu alone is true and real.”
And Samyong concludes his book by stating…
“After your death, I walked my path already 18 years. But I still cannot deepen myself… I feel my delusion is getting darker… However, I really wish to have Zan-Gi like Shinran Shonin. With those wishes, I feel the warmth of “the truth of nature – as itself” inside and outside of myself. You, Ma-chan is beside me, too. You come along with me. Thank you, Ma-chan. See you then. Now I think it is nice to go there to see you.”
Samyong is now travelling his path with this son in the compassionate light of Amida Buddha beyond the border of life and death.
Tradition calls for temples in North America to observe Obon services for the deceased, and include traditional Japanese dances (Bon Odori) on Obon Day. Buddhists consider a memorial service a significant occasion to remember the deceased with feelings of gratefulness and love. In remembering the deceased, we acknowledge the influence of the deceased on our lives…
*Pot Luck on Saturday, July 14th at 6 p.m. at the temple, to welcome Rev. Gibbs of BCA, Oregon Buddhist Temple. Everyone is welcome. Please come and join us that evening.
What is a Buddhist? Is it a person who is well versed in the Dharma on an intellectual basis, or is it a person who lives the Dharma? I ask this question because I encountered a young Theravada monk while hiking the other day.
Before I saw him, I felt a presence. When I came face to face with him we both bowed in Gassho. He was a Thai monk, dressed in traditional robes, and spoke little English. This man was warm and friendly. He was in the company of an older Caucasian member of his temple. This gentleman said that the monk needed to hike up and down the steep part of the trail in order to work up a sweat. The monk said that he hadn’t sweat since he’d come to Canada, and felt the need to do so. We wished each other well and went our separate ways. As I walked away I couldn’t help feel that there was a reason for our meeting, and perhaps it wasn’t by chance.
Bud Sakamoto and I are in the process of putting together an emergency plan for the temple. We are working on procedures. To that end we will be encouraging a number of temple members to take Level 1 first aid, or recertify, so as to be able to offer assistance if and when needed.
If anyone has a wheel chair gathering dust somewhere, the temple could use one or two. We are going to see if we can arrange a Food Safe course at the temple this fall. The gardening committee continues to receive plant donations from members and non-members alike. We’ve planted them and plan to continue the work we’ve begun along the fence. We might even make a sand garden in the back parking lot area. Someone has already offered us a stone lantern. We will be on the lookout for suitable ishi.
Pat Yetman is a member who stands out. His height and strong voice are two of his physical attributes but underlying the obvious is his genial nature and love of people. He is originally from Newfoundland. After his vacation here in 1963 he stayed attracted by the climate. In 1966 he met Jean Yamaoka in Vancouver. Their 1971 wedding was held at Steveston Buddhist Temple. The minister was Okada Sensei. Pat runs the Steveston Pure Water Shop on Chatham Street. Jean works for the Tax Department of the City of Richmond. They have two sons (30 and 33 years old). Both became members a few years ago and are active members either attending Family service or volunteering at our weekly Bingo
18 students, 2 teachers and 1 minister will arrive on Friday, July 20th and will be billeted by local families during their 3 week stay in Richmond. Hongwangi has requested that this year’s program emphasize history of British Columbia and Japanese Canadians as well as personal contact with the senior temple members. Lunch with the Steveston seniors is scheduled for Tuesday, July 31 between 11:50 a.m and 1:00 p.m. Please bring old pictures and any memorabilia which will help initiate conversation with the students and teacher
Post secondary students of any religious affiliation are eligible to apply for two scholarships offered by BCJSBCF in 2007. Complete information re: eligibility, criteria and deadline are available on the bulletin board in the temple lobby or by contacting a temple director.
Hours passed quickly at this session sponsored by the BC Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Churches Federation and attended by over 50 individuals including a significant number from the general public. One of the many concepts put forth struck close to home and possibly to you, the reader. One of the three characteristics of life is impermanence. And only this is permanent. To illustrate that nothing stays the same, Dr. Imamura spoke briefly about his mother who was a vibrant person but now at 86 is showing signs of memory loss. For those of us with aging parents, we can relate to his experience…to appreciate the gifts given to us by our parents and to continue to love and care for them more deeply despite the inevitable changes.
On May 10th and 11th, I had an opportunity to attend the annual World Jodo Shinshu Coordinating Council at Hongwanji, Kyoto. In the past years the representatives from only four oversea districts; Buddhist Churches of America, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, South America Jodo Shinshu Honpa Hongwanji and Buddhist Churches of Canada gathered for the meeting, but this year’s meeting was also included other districts: Australia, Mexico, Nepal, and Taiwan. It seems to me that our Mother Temple is showing strong interest in the international missionary.
In talking about the missionary, as I mentioned at the opening service of our Annual General Meeting in Calgary, it will take a lot of time and effort for one religion to be introduced and take a strong root in the new country. Looking back the history of Buddhism, it was introduced to China in the beginning of the first century. After many years of effort to translate from Sanskrit to Chinese, Buddhism became mainstream in the Tang Dynasty in the 7th century. Naturally Buddhism and its civilization attracted Japan and it was since introduced. But it was academic Buddhism in the beginning and it took another 600 years for Buddhism to become a living religion in the form of Zen and Nembutsu for ordinary people.
Our tradition of Jodo Shinshu came to Canada together with our ancestors as immigrants only 102 years ago. It may take at least a few hundred years for Jodo Shinshu would become mainstream in North America. That doesn’t mean that we have to just wait and see. We must continue to endeavor to share our tradition as well as to understand and live it ourselves. Our progress may be very slow, but I hope it is steady.
Food Fair. Net revenue was down from previous years despite advertising, good weather and diligent hours put in by Toban 1 and other volunteers. Not having presold tickets may have been a factor. On a more positive note the working members worked harmoniously and became better acquainted with one another.
Fujinkai Bus Trip. The outing planned for June 19 was cancelled due to the closeness of the Senior Club’s Skagit Casino trip on June 12. One suggestion was put forth to hold a picnic type gathering at the Temple for the ladies. Also any ideas for next year’s bus trip would be welcomed. Keep in mind that this was originally a replacement for our Strawberry Tea in appreciation to our members. During this summer you may be able to pick up ideas if you have visitors to tour around the Lower Mainland.
Obon. A simple buffet supper will be provided after the service. Please plan on joining everyone for a leisurely and social time.
Our last day of Dharma School was on Sunday, June 17th. The children enjoyed making sushi as a Fathers’ Day activity. Thank you to Mrs. Sakamoto who demonstrated her sushi-making skills to us, as well as to everyone else who helped make the activity a success.
After making sushi, the children took part in a game that Alisa and I set up. Everyone was able to go home with a prize!
Thank you to all the Dharma School children who have attended so far this year. We look forward to seeing you again in September.
Mari Cameron of the Vernon Buddhist Temple is organizing a camping/river rafting trip for youths, 13 years and older. The dates are August 7-9, 2007 and the cost is $75.00 ($50 for the rafting trip, and $25 for lunches). Those wishing to go must take along a sleeping bag, pillow and tent if they have one. Parents volunteering to drive may stay at the camp or make a hotel reservation. For further information, please see the bulletin board.
Cemetery visitations to the Duncan, Chemainus, Cumberland and Port Alberni. See the totem poles in Duncan, and the famous murals in Chemainus. Visit Cathedral Grove in the MacMillan Provincial Park. Visit the Coombs Market (see the goats on the roof). Visit the Malls in the Shopping Centre Capital of BC (Nanaimo) and/or visit the Casino. Join Cumberland as they celebrate their 119th year of Celebrations -- have lunch with them at the Legion Hall, and dinner with them in the Rec Hall. Tour Cumberland, visit the sites where the Japanese lived, visit their Museum.
NOTICE: Due to the Island Obon tour, our August Shotsuki will be changed to August 19th. (Original schedule was on August 12th.)