Message from Rev. Kakei Nakagawa, Rinban
(as printed in the May, 2016 newsletter)
In the month of May, we observe “Sh?-so, Go-wotan-ye”, celebrating the birthday of J?do Shinsh? founder, Shinran 1173-1263, the Hearer of Dharma (=Sh?nin). I wrote an article about his realization in the May issue of BCA’s publication, “Wheel of Dharma”. I hope you to read it and enjoy the unique-ness of Shinran’s teachings.
This month, I’d like to share my interpretation of ‘The Preface of Sh?shin-ge’ that is based on D.T.Suzuki’s translation, and hope that it will help you understand Shinran’s teachings a little better.
Rev. Kakei Nakagawa, Rinban
The Preface of Sh?shin-ge
Regarding Buddha’s Wish-for-the-world, we should note that there are both the true and real Living (Gy?) and true and real Awakening (Shin), and that there are the Living and Awakening as provisionary means.
Buddha’s “17th Wish” is concerning our Life, in which all the Buddhas extend their true intent. Buddha’s “18th Wish” is concerning our Awakening, in which we are urged to recognize the goal of the Buddha’s intent, that Living and Awakening are those which are specifically focused in Buddha’s Primal Wish.
Those with whom Buddha’s intent is concerned are all people, whether ignorant, good, bad, great or small. To be assembled in the true and real Buddhahood is the natural condition of the rare circumstances which are beyond thinking and arguing. The true and real Buddhahood is the Realm of Recompense established by the Buddha of Recompense. Here is the wonder of the Original Sense of Care that the Buddha solely realized. Here is the ocean of one absolute reality of true Suchness. Herein lies the central purpose of “The Larger S?tra”. Here is the true significance of the essential ‘Power of Benefiting Others (Tariki)’.
This being so, I, Shinran as a Hearer of Dharma now taking refuge in the words of ??kyamuni Buddha; turning to the commentaries by the seven great masters, I realize how Buddha’s kindness really is. Hence compose the following “Sh?shin Nenbutsu Ge”…
Message from Rev. Matthew Hamasaki
(as printed in the May, 2016 newsletter)
Winter is definitely gone and the weather is heating up. While it may not be consistent and we have some cooler and windier blustery days, we are getting close to cracking the nineties and it is still only the middle of April. And although I would love to be enjoying this wonderful weather which is no longer freezing but not yet scorching, I find myself wallowing in the suffering that is my allergies.
It’s not just the inconvenience of sneezing and itchy eyes; it’s also the pain that occurs from consistent irritation. Almost like scratching over a scab over and over again so that it never can heal. And while I may have had allergies during my time in Davis because the agricultural scene there is also very strong, I do not remember it ever being this bad. It may not just be me, though, as other people have told me that the allergies this year are the worst they’ve experienced as well.
In order to cope with allergies to lessen my troubles, I have tried what seems to be many different things. From allergy pills and nasal washes, cleaning the house more frequently and eating honey from local bees, filtering out the air to diffusing essential oils into the air I feel like I’ve tried all I can and everything has just helped a little bit. But my allergies still persist and so I will keep looking.
Our lives are similar to this not just on a seasonal basis, but every single day. We are suffering not from the reaction our body has to the pollen in the air; we suffer because of the reaction our mind has to the events around us. And we have two choices: to continue suffering and do nothing about it or to go out and try things and see what works.
As a Buddhist minister, I clearly have an affinity for Buddhism and so it’s something that works for me. And it’s not that all of it speaks to me all of the time, but I’ve found some points that stick with me that I remember when I need it (or a little after). If you’re reading this, you probably also have found something in Buddhism as well. I encourage you to keep looking into Buddhism in all its facets as well as anywhere else you can find something that will help! Not everything will be profound and how meaningful it is may change with time but this is not to discourage you. Rather, it is a call to challenge everyone to put in the work to make their lives better; sifting through what doesn’t work and finding what does.
Message from Rev. Alan Sakamoto
(as printed in the May, 2016 newsletter)
What Are You Waiting For?
The other day, one of my friends, told me to get my butt off the couch and go and do something. That statement had quite an impact of me, but not in the way you might think. I thought that it would be interesting to quantify how much time that I might have remaining in my life. So I looked online, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that the average life expectancy for one born and raised in the United States is 78.8 years old. If we put that in picture-form:
That’s 80 symbols (I’ll round to 80 for ease of description). That’s it! If you’re under 80 years old, like I am, then go ahead and cross off the number of “@” symbols to indicate your age, and then look at the grouping again. The number of remaining symbols sure looks a lot fewer. Now, I can multiply that by 12 to get the representation of the number of months remaining, or 52 for weeks, or 365 for days. And the picture is quite astonishing after you cross out the characters that represent your current age. I think one of the most interesting realizations is that these could all fit on one side of a piece of paper.
But, instead of measuring and calculating this by the units of time, lets try and do this by using something else. How about the number of Super Bowl games left, or maybe the number of Hanamatsuri’s or Obons left. Maybe that is just like the example of the number of years left in your approximately life. So, how about something else. Say you like to go to the Coast to escape the hot summer Valley weather. And, in this example, you don’t go every year; maybe you go every other year. And, for the sake of this example, you are 50 years old. That means you will only go to the coast 15 more times (80 years – 50 years old = 30 years/ 2).
Say you read one book a year, then in the same example you only have 30 books left to buy and read. Will you read them all?
This year we have a Presidential election, which occurs only once every 4 years. As a 50 year old, you will only see, 7 more elections, and if each President is elected to an 8 year term, then you will only see 4 more Presidents. 4! THAT'S IT!
Some things in our lives don’t occur evenly and only once a year. Take for example, your relationship with your children or parents. In this example, say your child leaves home at the age of 21. I know some of you wish this could be true. And, if that child returns to see you 14 days a year, then in the example of the 50 year old, then you will only see each other 420 more times. To put that in another perspective, the child lived with you for 21 years of your 50 years, or 42% of your 50 years, and you will only see them 4% of your remaining life. Now that is pretty sobering.
What are you going to do with this information? You could hope that science figures out more ways to make us live longer. Or, maybe you could do something about this right now.
You can change that 4% figure or 14 days a year if you live longer than the statistical average. You can also change that number if you see your children or parents more frequently. One way maybe to live in the same town or city. Another would, of course, to live in the same house. But, as you are saying to yourself that “I can’t live in the same house,” then realize that you may have to change your priorities in life.
You may want to take more vacations with each other. You may want to have better “quality time” together. Perhaps you will bite your tongue a bit instead of saying something that will ignite the next World War between the two of you.
You may want to remove or revisit all those grudges you hold, not only with your family members, but with others too.
You may want to come to the temple on Sundays, and not just for major holidays and fund raisers. You may want to donate money to the see the new Fresno Hondo construction so that you will have a place for your children and grandchildren to attend. And, yes, you may even want to learn more about Buddhism, and how it can help you live the remaining days in a more thankful and joyful way.
We all have a very limited amount of time left. And, I realize that I need to focus more on the quality of the time remaining. The time remaining is precious. So, it looks like my friend is right…I need to get off my butt.
I go to the Buddha for guidance.
I go to the Dharma for guidance.
I go to the Sangha for guidance.
Rev. Alan Sakamoto