Calendar of Events for
1 Buddhist Broadcast on KBIF (900 AM) 7:25 am
National Council Meeting in Seattle
2 National Council Meeting in Seattle
Church/Parsonage Clean Up 8:00 am
Dharma School Service (no minister) & Beautification Day 9:30 am
3 CBE Lecture at Parlier - Rev. Marvin Harada 7:00 pm
4 CBE - Intro. to Meditation at Fresno FDC Rev. Kakei
Nakagawa 7:00 pm
6 CBE - Intro. to Jodo Shinshu at Fresno FDC Rev. Alan
Sakamoto 7:00 pm
8 Buddhist Broadcast on KBIF (900 AM) 7:25 am
Reedley Crab Feed & Silent Auction 5:00 pm
9 CCBWL Conference at Fresno FDC 8:30 am
No Dharma School Service
Crab Feed Clean Up 10:00 am
11 CBE - Intro. to Meditation at Fresno FDC
Rev. Kakei Nakagawa 7:00 pm
12 Buddhist Discussion in English at Parlier
Mr. Curtis Koga 7:00 pm
15 Buddhist Broadcast on KBIF (900 AM) 7:25 am
16 Dharma School Service 9:30 am
17 V & P Meeting in Hanford 7:00 pm
20 Church Board Meeting 7:00 pm
22 Church Bus Trip to Sacramento 7:00 am
Buddhist Broadcast on KBIF (900 AM) 7:25 am
23 Combined Ohigan, Monthly Memorial &Dharma School Service 9:30 am
BWA Meeting 11:30 am
25 CBE - Intro. to Meditation at Fresno FDC
Rev. Kakei Nakagawa 7:00 pm
29 Buddhist Broadcast on KBIF (900 AM) 7:25 am
30 Dharma School Service 9:30 am
Message from Rev. Alan Sakamoto
(as printed in the March, 2014 newsletter)
Ananda: Guardian of the Dharma
We are taught, and know the story of Siddhartha Gautama’s life who attains enlightenment and becomes the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. However, it is through the recollection of Shakyamuni’s disciples and followers that we are able to read and recall the Buddha’s lessons. This can be seen with the beginning words of each Sutra, “Thus I have heard.” Ananda was the first cousin of Shakyamuni Buddha, and one of his principal disciples. He is known for having outstanding memory, able to recite the Buddha’s talks word for word, and he had the unique position as the only one to have heard almost all of the Buddha’s talks.
For twenty-five years, he was the Buddha’s constant companion, attendant and helper. He saw these twenty-five years as his opportunity to be in “higher training,” and as a learner. Ananda was also a very capable teacher of the Dharma. The Buddha did not hesitate to ask Ananda to take his place when he was not feeling well. It is written that the Buddha said, “Ananda, monks, is wise, one of great understanding…If you had questioned me about the same matter, I would have answered in the very same way that Ananda has answered.” Buddha’s respect was so great that he referred to Ananda as “the living embodiment of the Teachings.”
Many of the Shakyan clan left their regular lives to follow the Buddha including the desire by many women to join his Sangha. This effort was led by the Buddha’s Aunt and Stepmother, Mahapajapati Gotami, Queen Maya’s sister. Three times, Mahapajapati requested to join the order to the Buddha, and three times, she was kindly denied. Out of compassion and kindness, Ananda decided to intercede. He asked the Buddha if women could attain enlightenment, and the Buddha agreed. He asked the Buddha a few more questions, and the Buddha finally agreed to accept women as nuns in the Sangha. The Buddha wasn’t against women followers. He just wanted to make sure that they understood the hardships of a monks life, one without a permanent home. Soon after, the Buddha warmly accepted women into the Sangha. Accordingly, we have to be thankful to Ananda’s compassion and timely interjection.
The most famous and well-known story about Ananda involves the Buddha’s famous last words while he was on his deathbed. The Buddha said: “So Ananda, each of you should be an island unto yourself, dwell with yourself as a refuge and with no other as your refuge; each of you should make the Dharma your island, dwell with the Dharma as your refuge and with no other as your refuge.” The Ultimate Truth of the Dharma is the most important thing in one’s life, and each of us must find our own path to that Truth.
Ananda is also known as the “Treasurer of the Dharma.” He was present at the First Buddhist Council which was convened shortly after the passing of the Buddha, where many of the Buddha’s discourses were documented in the Sutta Pitaka. As mentioned, his excellent memory served as the basis for the recollection of the Buddha’s talks.
In contrast to most of the Buddhas disciples, Ananda is depicted as sympathetic and imperfect. However, he was held in very high regard as the Buddha even gave a talk about Ananda, and presented him as kind, compassionate, unselfish, popular and thoughtful toward others. He was the last of the Buddha’s direct disciples to attain enlightenment.
Many times our focus is on Shakyamuni Buddha and his life, yet much in our tradition can be found in the disciples and others in Buddhist history. This is just a “thumbnail” sketch of Ananda, and I hope that it wets your appetite and curiosity to learn more and research more about this and other important figures in Buddhism.
Namu Amida Butsu
Rev. Alan Sakamoto