THE LIGHT OF THE BUDDHA
Steveston Buddhist Temple
10:30 am - Dharma Service
11:30 am - Sangha Gathering
04 (Sun) 10:30 a.m.|
12 (Mon) 7:30 p.m.
17 (Sat) 10:00 a.m.
18 (Sun) 10:00 a.m.
18 (Sun) 12:00 noon
25 (Sun) 10:30 a.m.
Spring Ohigan, Memorial Service (Shotsuki) & Installation of New Officers
SBT Board Meeting
BCJSBCF Spring Meeting in Hope
Dharma School Theme: Noble Eight-fold Path
Dharma Service (Rev. Kikuchi - Guest Minster for Seattle Betsiun)
01 (Sun) 10:00 a.m.|
01 (Sun) 10:30 a.m.
09 (Mon) 7:30 p.m.
15 (Sun) 10:30 a.m.
26 - 27 (Thu - Fri)
28 - 29 (Sat - Sun)
Dharma School (Theme: Growth, Activity: Planting Sunflowers)
Hanamatsuri Service (Guest Speaker: Rev. Matsubayashi, Seattle Betsuin)
SBT Board Meeting
Memorial Service (Shotsuki)
BCC Ministers’ Meeting in Lethbridge (Rev. Kikuchi will be attending)
BCC AGM in Calgary
Since I moved to the west coast area, November 2005, I have heard the weather in this area is dramatically changing. We had unusually strong winds with rain and more than the usual amount of snow. I feel this is like an angry warning to human beings who have destroyed too much nature and continue to do so without any reflection during this last Dharma age.
With these unbalanced weather conditions, sometimes we lose our mental balance. Recently, I have met several people and listened to their problems. Although they are in completely different situations, they all told me the same thing, “My life seems very good but still I feel empty.” They are all middle-class family people. Good and stable income, nice family around them… Others might wonder about their problems, “Why do they feel empty with such a nice life?” But this “Emptiness” seems to permeate our society. This dark shadow falls on advanced countries where people have more than enough possessions…
Long time ago in northern India, there was a prince who had everything : status, possessions, wife and son… His name was “Siddhartha”. One day he abandoned his family and gave up his life as a prince and left his castle in the middle of the night to seek the cause of his suffering which came from his feeling of “emptiness”. Finally, he found the cause of his emptiness which he successfully overcame. He started his journey to spread the teaching and people called him, “Sakyamuni Buddha”, which means “Awakened one, a sage of Sakya clan”…
When we get injured, our body tells us how serious, and where the physical damage is, doesn’t it? My teacher, Rev. Kakehashi always told us that it happens when we suffer our mental damage, too. When we feel anxiety or emptiness, it is an important sign telling us, “Something is wrong with you!” In Buddhism, all sufferings are caused by “our attachments” and “our judgments based on our self-centered view point”. However, we easily focus on just our attachments and judgments and step inside the darkness instead of facing to “the reality of life”, such as “All conditioned things are impermanent” which means “All things change in relation to causes and conditions.” and “Phenomenal things exist only because of conditions; hence, they have no substance.”, which means “Nothing exists independently or statically.’
By the way, I have recognized a major difference between the Japanese and English languages. We often don’t use the subject?? in Japanese language conversation. For example, we say, “Yesterday went to the hot spring and was really good! Should go, too!” Conversely, English needs a subject to make a sentence and “I” is always a capital…
I heard from a very famous Buddhist scholar, “It must take long period for Japanese Buddhism to become American Buddhism, because the basic mentalities and cultural back grounds are so different. If English speaker changed from feeling capital letter “I” to a lower-case “i”, they can slowly accept Buddhist teaching…”
And there are many positive words in the English language which begin with “self-“ such as, self-development, self-identification, self-achievement, self-advertisement, self-confidence, self-power and so on… Buddhism teaches us “non-self”. This western society is so conscious of “I” and “self” which denies Buddhist teaching and creates our strong mind set.
From the eyes of Buddha, we are losing our way in this modern society with its emphases on “self” and so we have always “empty mind”. Shinran Shonin mentions about emptiness in the following:
“We should not express outwardly signs of wisdom, goodness, or diligence”
People who aspire for the Pure Land must not behave outwardly as though wise or good, nor should they act as though diligent. The reason is stated, “for inwardly we are possessed of falsity” (literally, “that which is empty and transitory”).
“Inwardly” means "within"; since the mind is filled with blind passions, it is empty and transitory.
“Empty” means vain, not real, not sincere.
“Transitory” means provisional, not true.
For this reason, in the Tathagata's teaching this world is called the defiled world of the corrupt dharma. All beings lack a true and sincere heart, mock teachers and elders, disrespect their parents, distrust their companions, and favor only evil; hence, it is taught that everyone, both in the secular and religious worlds, is possessed of "Heart and tongue at odds," and "Words and thoughts both insincere." The former means that what is in the heart and what is said are at variance, and the latter means that what is spoken and what is thought are not real. Real means "sincere." People of this world have only thoughts that are not real, and those who wish to be born in the Pure Land have only thoughts of deceiving and flattering. Even those who renounce this world have nothing but thoughts of fame and profit. Hence, know that we are not good persons, nor persons of wisdom; that we have no diligence, but only indolence, and within, the heart is ever empty, deceptive, vainglorious, and flattering. We do not have a heart that is true and real.
“Reflect on this” means that a person must understand this in accordance with the way things truly are.
(From “Notes on 'Essentials of Faith Alone’ “)
Besides Shinran Shonin mentions about “Emptiness” or “Vain” in his Wasan following…
Of those who encounter the power of the Primal Vow,
Not one passes by in vain (with empty feeling);
They are filled with the treasure ocean of virtues,
The defiled waters of their blind passions not separated from it.
(Hymns of the Pure Land Masters no.13, Bodhisattva Vasubandhu)
In our daily life, we always debate “right or wrong”, by saying “I think!”. We can think something by dividing things into the categories which are created in our minds and label them and finally discriminate them. So we live. Amida Buddha tells us “the true state of life”, the realm of non-ego and “Oneness of Life” which doesn’t have any borders between, “You and I”, “Love and Hate” and “Life and Death”... When we think against “the true state of life”, please remember it appears as a feeling of “emptiness” and “anxiety”.
In Buddhist teaching, it is said that, “In the sky there is no distinction of east and west; people create the distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true… Buddha keeps away from these discriminations and looks upon the world as a passing cloud.”
We say to become a Buddha means “the journey to fulfill the perfect wisdom and compassion which has no discrimination”. Through continuous visits to the temple to listen to the Nembutsu teaching and through encounters with true Nembutsu followers, you can slowly accept the sense of the primal vow of Amida Buddha and the Nembutsu teaching even though it may take a very long time…
“What is a Buddhist?” That was the theme of the recent Northwest Buddhist Convention in Tukwilla, Washington. (South Centre for all you shoppers) This convention was hosted by White River Temple. A small contingent from our temple as well as Fraser Valley and Vancouver temples attended this convention. It was a good opportunity to meet other Buddhists and to exchange views and ideas. We met a good number of old friends and made new ones as well.
I found it most interesting to talk with a number of non Japanese members. It was quite interesting to learn how they had come to our tradition. Most had looked at Zen , Soka Gakkai and Tibetan Buddhism. These people came to find Shin Buddhism more comfortable and more open. These new Buddhists seemed to be very environmentally and politically active. Again and again the subject of global warming and the war in Iraq were mentioned rather passionately.
The 2008 convention will be hosted by Seattle Betsuin, again at the Double Tree Inn in Tukwilla.
The year 2008 will mark our temple’s 80th anniversary. Many of you will be asked to donate your special talents and energies to make this event memorable. We welcome your suggestions and ideas.
The new Steveston Buddhist Temple board has been elected and committees established. The 2006 Executives consisting of a President, 2 Vice Presidents, Secretary and Treasurer will serve again this year. I am most gratified to see the reestablishment of a Dharma School in our temple. Feel free to contact me directly or indirectly with your concerns.
Keirokai on Sunday, March 18th at 12:00 noon. Temple members 70 and over are invited to enjoy the annual festive lunch and concert. Please RSVP to Chizuru at (604) 277-2323 before FRIDAY, MARCH 9TH, 2007. This is very important as we have to order the food at least one week before March 18th and to have prepared the name tags, etc. Keirokai Committee consists of Kiyo Domai and Hiroko Yoshihara. If you have any thoughts on future Keirokai, please let them know.
Temple’s Sunshine Committee: Please notify Etsuko Ogawa at (604) 277-6902 when you heard that a temple member has been hospitalized. She will arrange for flowers to be sent.
May this update find you in good health and spirit in the Light of Compassion of Amida Buddha despite the recent storm in the eastern provinces.
March is the first month of welcoming the season of spring and we observe Higan in our tradition. Higan is the other shore, the Pure Land, that is, the world of all wishes accomplished. Although it is equinox day and supposed to be the best time of the year, we are not sure if the weather is always nice, because of the change of environment which has been the critical and controversial issue in the daily news either in political, medical and economical fields.
In the Pure Land scripture called Amida-kyo, the water in the Pure Land has eight excellent qualities; pure, cool, sweet, moistening, comforting, thirst-quenching, and revitalizing. I wonder if we can find such a water in the Canadian Rockies, in the north of British Columbia or somewhere in Quebec.
It is high time for us to take action in living an environmentally friendly life instead of sitting down and waiting for someone to tackle the solution to the global warming. When the simple existence of our own Mother Earth will be in question, what is the purpose of religion and even the Nembutsu? It may sound very radical, but this is my own feeling in the recent days.
Members of District 4 made sandwiches for Bingo night for the last time in the past month. We thank them for their dedication and reliability. You are always welcome in the kitchen! The numbering of the twelve Fujinkai districts will remain as is to avoid any confusion.
Toban 1 is in charge for the next four months until the end of May. M. Kobayashi and M. Toyoda are phone contacts for the toban.
The soft goods drive is nearing its conclusion. Right now we have 21 bags with 75 bags as our goal. Last year $200 was raised with 100 bags collected. Do your spring cleaning early! Clear away the clutter! Create a simpler life! Do your part in recycling!
Spring Garage Sale at the Temple on Saturday, April 14. 9 am to 1 pm. $15 per table rental ; $25 for two tables. Any donations for the temple tables will be accepted. Phone Hiroko re: table rental at (604) 277-6521 before March 18 or during week before April 14.
On February 11th we had our second Dharma School Service and the theme was Compassion. The children enjoyed decorating sugar cookies and making coloured Valentine's Day cards to give to all their family members and friends. Some also stayed for our delicious annual potluck lunch. Reiko and I look forward to seeing you all on March 18! …..Alisa