Message from Rev. Kakei Nakagawa Rinban, Fresno Betsuin
(as printed in the February, 2015 newsletter)
In Mongolia, every nomad has been keeping a special relationship with one dog as their best friend, since thousands of years ago.
Immediately after a child is born, parents gave a puppy to the child as a playmate as well as a guard. Most of the time, a Tibetan Mastiff was selected. This dog’s loyalty is perfect and also it is the strongest dog in the continent. A pack of three Tibetan Mastiffs could hunt the tiger.
The child and a puppy grow up together. When parents were absent, the puppy attends to all of child’s personal needs during its early days, becoming first best friends to each other. By the time the child becomes a responsible youth, the first best friend would have died. Nomads would never forget their first best friend with whom the sweetest childhood memories were made. They believe in this one story…
“In the High Ten-shan Mountains, there is one Stupa, entrance to the bridge connecting Buddha-Land and earth. It is called Rainbow Stupa and Rainbow Bridge because of their rainbow colors.
Just this side of the Rainbow Stupa there is a land of meadows, hills, valleys with lush green grass.
When a beloved dog dies, the dog goes to this special place. There is always food and water and warm spring weather.
The old and frail are young again. Those who are maimed are made whole again.
They play all day with each other. There is only one thing missing.
They are not with their special person who loved them on Earth. So each day they run and play until the day comes… When one suddenly stops playing and looks up!
The nose twitches! The ears are up! The eyes are staring! And this one suddenly runs from the group!
You have been seen, and when you and your special friend meet, you take him or her into your arms and embrace, your face is kissed again and again, and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting friend.
Then you cross the Bridge of Rainbow Stupa together, never again to be separated. ”
Interestingly, we can find a similar story in Native America Folklore. Mongolians and Native Americans are both so-called Mongoloids.
The Fresno Betsuin will hold a Nirvana Day service on February 8th combined with a pet memorial service before the picture of the dying Buddha who was surrounded not only by his followers but also by various animals. We are reminded of the reason why the Buddha treated the lives of human and non-human with equal respect.
Members, non-members, friends & family alike are invited to participate by honoring the memory of your beloved pets by bringing a precious keepsake to be commemorated (photo, favorite toy, collar, ashes, etc.) and place the item(s) on the table near the altar.
Message from Rev. Alan Sakamoto, Fresno Betsuin
(as printed in the February, 2015 newsletter)
Right Speech is not Free Speech
I had prepared a different newsletter article for February, but after the recent events in Paris (the shooting and murder of 12 at the magazine offices of Charlie Hebdo), I decided to change my topic to “Right Speech.” Before I continue this article, I would like to tell you that all action that causes the intentional and premeditated killing of others cannot be condoned!
The concept of “Freedom of Speech,” is deeply rooted in our American way of life. Its development began as early or earlier than the landing of our founding fathers on the continent. It is so engrained in our way of life, such that it is listed prominently on the Bill of Rights. As a matter of fact, it is contained within the First Amendment. However, the right of free speech doesn’t mean that you can say anything you want at anytime. This was clearly noted by the Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who wrote that free speech does not allow one to, and I am paraphrasing, “shout fire in a crowded theater.” The right of free speech also should be examined through the lens of the Buddhist Eightfold Noble Path.
Right Speech is the third of the Eightfold Noble Path. Sakyamuni Buddha indicated that Right Speech is to “abstain from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter.” Or, perhaps we can look at this from a more positive perspective and say that Right Speech is “spoken at the right time, contains the truth, spoken affectionately, spoken beneficially, and spoken with the mind of good will.” In a nutshell, Right Speech does not hurt or harm others.
The other day I spoke kiddingly to a friend who commented that I “always picked” on him. I apologized and thought about it long and hard in light of the definition of Right Speech. My comments were not spoken at the right time, nor did they contain the truth, they were spoken affectionately, they were not beneficial, and they were not spoken in the mind of good will. I realize now that my words were rather hurtful towards that person. I was wrong in what I said. Many times I don’t think about what I’m saying as my comments just seem to flow out of my mouth without thinking. They are more of a reaction. I certainly need to be much more thoughtful and mindful in my own speech.
Yet, these thoughts may assume that I condemn the cartoonists and writers at Charlie Hebdo for their use of “freedom of speech,” and, in turn, support those on the receiving end of the satirical cartoon. This would be farther from the truth. These are both on the extreme ends of the spectrum.
The Buddha famously asked us all to take the “Middle Path.” And, at the same time, the walking of the “Middle Path” could become an excuse to stand off and away from the situation. Thereby taking an unattached position and opinion. This position would also contradict that Buddhist concept of interdependence, and how we are all connected with each other. So, in order to take this middle path, we should try to understand the underlying reasons for both parties. This is where “Wisdom” enters the conversation, i.e. the reasons for the importance of free speech, and the reasons for the anger and frustration from making fun of one’s religious figure and religion. From my chair, I can clearly feel for, and see the rationale of both sides, and here is where our “Compassion” enters.
Our world is full of conflicting ideas and opinions. Instead of reacting to events, we all need to be compassionate to understand how disagreements arise, and to use our compassion to help to alleviate the suffering in this world. We need Right Understanding in order to have the Right View, which will lead us to the Right Thought, and use our Right Motivation to do the Right Action or Right Thing. Perhaps this can all begin with Right Speech.
I go to the Buddha for guidance.
I go to the Dharma for guidance.
I go to the Sangha for guidance.
Rev. Alan Sakamoto