Message from Rev. Kakei Nakagawa, Rinban
(as printed in the January, 2016 newsletter)
“Shin-nen Akemashite Omedetou”
= “New Year’s Day breaks and Bud is sprout”
Happy New Year!
A thought for the New Year is to let go or have no attachments. We cling too much to things. We create troubles, tensions, and many problems because we are possessive and clingy. We need to learn the teaching of non-attachment and “let it go.” “Let it go” does not mean to be careless or neglectful, just as non-attachment is not indifference. It is simply freedom from clinging and possessiveness.
When you do something, do it with all your might but do not possess or be possessed by it. Do not cling to it. When it is finished, just let it go.
Many parents disrupt the future of their child because of their clinging or possessive love. One must let him/her go when he/she is grown, just as cubs are pushed off by the mother lion in the jungle. Lovers should love, but should not possess; when love becomes possessive, it spoils. Money is a wonderful and very important thing in life, but when one clings to it, he/she becomes a miser, and when one is possessed by money, one is dissociated from a proper humane life. If one clings to opposition, it causes furious anger. If one clings to well-being, greed will rule his/her entire life.
It is so easy to cling to words that others have said or actions that others have done in the past, and thus we create problems. We should be careful. If we cling to the past, we are going to neglect the present. The world and life are continually changing moment by moment. THAT is the truth-reality of this Universe. So instead of clinging to the past, we have to live a fresh new life each day. We should not cling to the future and neglect the present, because the future is unknown and yet to come. We should live our best in the present.
Finally, all things in this world and life come and go as they will. Let the Way take the ways and let go of your clinging. This is the greatest release. Even to life we should not cling, but let it go, and we are able to live freely. Many difficulties were transcended by letting go.
These are my thoughts for the New Year.
Reverend Kakei Nakagawa
Message from Rev. Matthew Hamasaki
(as printed in the January, 2016 newsletter)
It has gotten much colder than it was when I arrived in Fresno. It definitely feels like winter and that means that it is almost the end of the year. How quickly time flies! It seems even quicker when autumn only lasts a week. As the year comes to a close, one of the things that comes to my mind is the tradition of the New Year’s resolution. This is the practice of making a promise to do some-thing for the rest of year. The basis of this promise is usually centered around self-improvement. Oftentimes this means physical improvement like eating healthier or exercising more. It could also be for improvement in the relationships that people have with one another. For in-stance, a pledge to open and hold doors for people. Another could be to try to see friends at least once a month. Going even deeper into the root of this promise, these resolutions all arise from, first and foremost, self-awareness. Realizing that one can improve on one-self is the important step that everyone must take in order to make a resolution. If someone thought they were already perfect, they would never strive to be better. Next, the person must be aware enough to under-stand the areas in their life which could use improving. This takes some thought, but I think deep down we all know where we could be better people. And finally, which takes even more thought, is finding a solution and deciding what action to take to remedy this. After making the resolution, the most difficult thing is after: keeping it! Making habits is quite hard, and breaking old ones is probably even harder. But, if little by little we can try to keep it in mind and not worry if sometimes we forget or we fall off the wagon here and there, eventually our resolution becomes something that starts to be automatic. It doesn’t take as much energy to remember and it soon it almost feels odd when we don’t do it. This concept is a very Shin Buddhistic one; self-reflection on the limitations we have naturally as hu-mans and working with them to help us become better people. Striving to be perfect in every way in a single instant is close to impossible, but by breaking it up and trying little by little to improve our lives piece by piece, we can foster a spirit of progression and enjoy the journey throughout life year by year.
Message from Rev. Alan Sakamoto
(as printed in the January, 2016 newsletter)
Happy New Year! How were the holidays? Did you eat too much? Watch too many foot-ball games? I think that one of the most fascinating parts of the New Years tradition is the making of resolutions. What resolution(s) did you make? Common ones I hear involve, going to the gym, dieting, and, yes, even going to church more often. Perhaps, one of your resolutions is to be more compassionate, and a kinder and gentler person.
In every religion, one can find a version of ethics and reciprocity as a moral rule, we know it as the “Golden Rule.” Simply stated, we are to treat others as we would want others to treat ourselves. This seems like a very rea-sonable lesson and way to include in our daily lives. One of the more famous and common stories and explanations is that of the “Good Samaritan.”
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is found in the Bible, Luke 10:25-37 (New International Version). An ex-pert in the law, asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eter-nal life?” Jesus answered, “What is written in the law?” The expert replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” He asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii (an amount equal to 2 days of wages) and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’“ Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
A study was conducted by Darley and Batson (1973) who designed an experiment to determine what factors might be most relevant to explaining the differences in behavior of one who compassionately acts versus one who does not. Subjects in this experiment were students at the Princeton Theological Seminary. As each subject arrived, he was informed that he was to give a talk that would be recorded in another building. Along the way to the place for the talk, the subject encountered a "victim" slumped in a door-way. The question was under what conditions would a subject stop to help the victim.
Half of the subjects were assigned to talk on the Good Samaritan Parable; the others were assigned a different top-ic. Some of the subjects were told they were late and should hurry; some were told they had just enough time to get to the recording room; and some were told they would arrive early. Judging by their responses to a questionnaire, they had different religious and moral orientations.
The only variables that made a difference was how much of a hurry the subjects were in. 63% of subjects that were in no hurry stopped to help, 45% of those in a moderate hurry stopped, and 10% of those that were in a great hur-ry stopped. It made no difference whether the students were assigned to talk on the Good Samaritan Parable, nor did it matter what their religious outlook was.
All the students were studying religion, and we can find examples of the “Golden Rule” in every major religion, yet, the distinguishing factor in whether or not one of these students stopped to help was how hurried they were. Isn’t that interesting? You may be thinking that perhaps the students didn’t see the “victim” in the study. The conclusion indicated that some students just stepped over the “victim.” Hmmm? The results of the study seem to indicate that just thinking about doing something doesn’t imply that we will indeed “do something!” Maybe, our New Years resolution should be about slowing down instead of adding more all the additional things we want to do.
I go to the Buddha for guidance.
I go to the Dharma for guidance.
I go to the Sangha for guidance.
Rev. Alan Sakamoto