Message from Rev. Kakei Nakagawa Rinban,
(as printed in the July, 2015 newsletter)
Attitude of Sangha for Listening
1. Listen as if you are listening for the first time.
2. Listen as if the message is for you alone.
3. Listen as if this is the last thing you will ever do in your life.
We often hear the term "O-Bon". We should be familiar with it, and it should give us great inspiration. It is a state in which we, deep in our minds, all wish to be happy-ended.
We have all heard the story of the great disciple Mokuren (Maudgalyana), the story of the good son, as the origin of O-Bon.
When I was in Japan, one member advised me, "Young Sensei, every year at O-Bon time we hear the story of Mokuren, the good son. We know that story very well. Could you please tell us another story this year?"
With his comment, I thought, there is a complete difference between knowing and understanding. So I said to that person, "I'm very anxious that you really understand what Mokuren experienced, and how the Buddha led him to realize the truth-reality of life. This is not just a story of the good son but a story of true and real happiness. I suppose you shall have to listen and reminded of this story again and again at O-Bon time."
Anyhow, I think that you too will be hearing the same O-Bon story at the Valley temples during this O-Bon season again.
I hope you remember the three steps to the ‘true listening’, that I suggested in my article last year.
The first step: You enjoy the story as it is.
The second step: You realize the intention of the teller.
The third step: You recognize that the story is not remote from you, but yourself.
Message from Rev. Alan Sakamoto, Fresno Betsuin
(as printed in the June, 2015 newsletter)
My Dog is a Bodhisattva
(a most excellent and profound teacher)
How are you this month? Renka and I, as many of you may know, have a dog named “Buko,” and she turned one year old this month. There is no doubt that she has changed and transformed our lives, and we can’t imagine our lives without her. However, the amazing thing is that she is truly a Bodhisattva, and can teach us many important lessons. I have mentioned the role of a Bodhisattva in prior newsletter articles, and in many Dharma talks, but I would like to share some of the lessons that we have learned from Buko.
We should be happy for everything in our lives. I am always amazed how happy and excited Buko is when I come home. She is so excited and happy, and acts like she hasn’t seen me for days, even thou it may only be an hour. She is also so happy to eat and play. There is never enough time in the day for her to play. We’ve forgotten to just be happy and satisfied for the little things in our lives. When was the last time you just played for the sake of playing?
Let go of our attachments. This was and continues to be a valuable lesson. Buko loved to chew on Renka’s slipper, and we would find one slipper here and another in different part of the house with new holes in the sole. One morning I found her proudly holding my favorite belt in her mouth. Of course, the other side of the belt was somewhere else. Getting mad at her does no good. What’s done is done. I need to be able to let go of my material attachments.
Mornings are awesome! And, kisses are good. After a good night of sleep, Buko is the first one in the house to wake up, and she leaps up to bounce on the bed and kiss our faces. She’s ready to play, eat her food, play some more, and life is good. She is always willing to lick our faces or kiss us. It’s her way to show her love and affection. I am not a morning person, and it takes a few cups of coffee before I get going. I need to learn to appreciate the beauty of the morning and the thankfulness that I woke up. I am healthy. I am able to walk. I am able to eat. I have a nice home. I have a nice car. I have a nice wife, and I have a wonderful dog. There is quite a lot to be thankful for, and there is always room to show my love to those I care about.
Let it go! One of us can be mad at her for something she has done, like chew slippers. She looks sad, hangs her head, and knows that she has done something wrong. But, within seconds, maybe mili-seconds, she is ready to play and is scouring the house for the next interesting thing. How many times do we hang on to the anger, frustration and negative emotions that we encounter each day? Sometimes, we hang onto them for days, weeks, and even years. We lose sleep worrying about stuff, we can’t eat, and develop serious physical problems. Dogs just let it go. They don’t hang on. This is an admirable trait, and one we should all aspire to adopt.
Unconditional love! Buko loves everyone and everything. She has a pure heart and thinks that everyone is here to help her play. She doesn’t care what you look like, what job you have, how much money you make, the kind of car you drive, or even whether you are a male or female. Everyone is her friend. And, this is how it should be for all of us. We are too quick to pre-judge and discriminate based on those aforementioned things. We should just love everyone unconditionally.
Food is always important. If you’ve ever had a dog, then you know that they’ll eat at anytime and are very happy whenever they receive food. I’m the same! I guess I have learned something from my dog.
Some of us are “dog” people, and some are “cat” people. Whichever one you may be, you can learn valuable lessons from your pets. They teach us how we can become better people. They are our teachers. They are our Bodhisattvas.
I go to the Buddha for guidance.
I go to the Dharma for guidance.
I go to the Sangha for guidance.
Rev. Alan Sakamoto