The Reedley Buddhist Church was established in 1936 with the Rev. Rijun Katsueda becoming the first resident minister. After World War II and the relocation of the Japanese residents, the church was rebuilt in 1952-53 and the Rev. Gibun Kimura became the third minister. In 1961, the Sunday School classrooms, conference room, office, and restrooms were started and completed in 1962. A boyhood statue of Shinran Shonin was donated by Mr. Seichi Hirose of Japan and placed in the U-shaped garden. The entire project was completed and dedicated on April 15, 1967.
Rev. George Shibata, our retired resident minister, began his association with the Reedley Buddhist Church in 1975 and completed 37 years in December, 2011. Rev. Hidehito Sakamoto was appointed as resident minister in March, 2012, until December, 2013. From January, 2014 through July 2015, the church was under the supervision of the Fresno Betsuin. In August, 2015, Reedley had three ministers under a shared system of the seven temples of the Central California District Council of the Buddhist Churches of America: Rev. Kakei Nakagawa, Rev. Alan Sakamoto, and Rev. Matthew Hamasaki. The shared system is coordinated by the Central California Ministers' Association, the CCDC Ministerial Advisory Committee, and the staff of the Fresno Betsuin. In December, 2016, Rev. Alan Sakamoto retired from the BCA. At the present time, Rev. Matthew Hamasaki left in January, 2018, to become the minister in Sacramento, and Rev. Nakagawa will be our supervising minister.
The church renovated the conference room and added a new kitchen facility in 2004. They added a new wrought iron fence surrounding the property in 2006, updated the hondo in 2007, and completed a storage building next to the small kitchen in 2008. The social hall bathrooms received an update in 2010 and in 2011 the grounds between the hall and the Japanese School building were graded and decomposed granite was added. In October, 2017 the church grounds between the hall the Japanese School building were cemented, and in January, 2018, a solar panel system went into service to minimize the utility costs.
The membership is approximately 110 members. The Buddhist Women's Association, the Reedley Dharma School, and the Jr. Young Buddhist Association remain active and support all activities sponsored by the church.
The Reedley Buddhist Church welcomes you to join us at any service and encourages new members to join our organization.
Calendar for December, 2019
2 V & P Meeting in Reedley 7:00 pm
4 Post Bazaar Meeting 7:00 pm
8 Bonenkai - Nikkeijinkai 12:00 pm
15 Bodhi Day/Monthly Memorial/
Family Dharma Service /Luncheon 10:00 am
BWA Meeting 12:00 pm
16 CCMAC Meeting - Fowler 7:00 pm
18 Church Board Meeting 7:00 pm
28 Sakata Family—Church Hall 10:00 am
28 Reedley Jr. YBA Mochitsuki
Conference Room 8:00 am
31 Joya-E (New Year’s Eve) Service 7:00 pm
Rev. Nakagawa's Message
December, 2019 Newsletter Article
Rev. Nakata's Message
December, 2019 Newsletter Article
Hello everyone!!! We are in the final
month of 2019. I have already spent 4 months here in Central California and enjoyed the temperature nose-dive from the 110’s to 40’s :-) In November, we observed two historical events in the district level. On November 2, the Dinuba Buddhist Church concluded its church operation. We observed the Closing Service with 55+ in attendance. I was so proud to assist in the Service, along with creating their last “service program brochure.” Before closing the Service, we sang the gatha, On-doku-san. It was a lamentable moment, but I respect their decision and will continue supporting their Church members. On November 9, our Central California Jr. YBA hosted their annual conference at the Fresno Betsuin. 170+ High School Buddhists gathered from various districts and chapters. I have not seen such a huge youth conference in a long while during my ministry in the BCA. I very much enjoyed leading my workshop at the conference. The CC Jr. YBA kids, their parents, and supporters worked so hard to make it successful and they did a tremendous job to maintain the attendees’ smile. I can say it was a historical event in CC. I posted some pictures on Twitter, so please view and get a feeling of how big the event was. I sincerely express my deepest gratitude to them. In our Jodo Shinshu teachings, the idea of “gratitude” is often mentioned during our Services with the gatha, Ondokusan. But do you really know its meaning? Here is the passage of Ondokusan with the general translation:
Ondokusan “59th verse of Shozomatsu Wasan (Hymn)”
Nyo rai dai hi no on do ku wa
The debt of gratitude,
I owe to Tathagata’s Great Compassion
Mi wo ko ni shi te mo ho zu be shi
I will proclaim untilmy life disintegrates into dust
Shi shu chi shiki no on do ku wa
The debt of gratitude, I owe to my dharma teachers
Ho ne wo ku da ki te mo sha su be shi
I will express until my bodily form is finally shattered
When you see the passage of Ondokusan, you may read it with music on your lips. You may croon it like… Nyo~ ra~ i~ dai~ hino~ on doku wa~. Shinran Shonin, the historical founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhist tradition, wrote hundreds of poems during his time, because he was always eager to share his understandings of Jodo Shinshu with as many as possible. These poems are known as wasan. Wa means Japanese writings/-poems, and san means praising. Wa-san can be understood as praising writings/poems in Japanese. Wasan is often translated as hymn, but the word hymn is heavily associated with the Christian culture and their ritual. There are praising writings with song in Islam. They prefer to call them nasheed, instead of Islamic hymn, to respect their culture and tradition. I prefer to call wasan as wasan, not Shinran Shonin’s hymn. Shinran composed three series of wasan. They are Jodo Wasan- Praising writings on Pure Land Teachings, Koso Wasan- Praising writings on Masters in Pure Land Teachings, and Shozomatsu Wasan- Praising writings on Three Dharma Ages. The set of three series of wasan is known as Sanjo Wasan—Three volumes of Praising writings. Ondokusan is the 59th poem in the Shozomatsu Wasan.
In this article, I would like to give you a detailed explanation of Ondokusan.
Nyo Rai Dai hi no On do ku wa
The historical Buddha, Shakyamuni taught that Nirvana is one of the essential objectives and truth in Buddha dharma. Shinran Shonin translated Nirvana as the equivalent to truth, the equivalent to oneness, Tathagata (Nyo rai), the essence of dharma in his book, Yuishin Sho Moni. These equivalents, Tathagata or the essence do not have any color or shape. When things have no color or shape, people in general like me, cannot understand what it is. The historical Buddha had anticipated people may not understand Buddha dharma itself. Therefore, he shared his dharma talk on Dharmakara Bodhisattva who arose from the equivalent to oneness as a colored and shaped being. This is known as Hoben Hosshin, to explain the essence of dharma in comprehendible mean. Hoben is the translation of Upaya in Sanskrit. Dharmakara Bodhisattva had practiced for five kalpas ultimately establishing the 48 Vows in order to become Amida Tathagata. One kalpa is about millions of years. At this point you realize that this is a mythological story. The Buddha shared the story with thousands of disciples including Ananda. After the Buddha died, disciples gathered to collect all the words and actions of the Buddha. Ananda shared his memory of the story on Dharmakara Bodhisattva and the story was recorded. Around the beginning of the first century, the story was published as the Infinite Life Sutra and Amida Sutra in the northwestern India. Shinran Shonin praised nyo rai in the first line of Ondokusan, the nyo rai indicates Amida Nyorai, Amida Tathagata which I explained above, not any other Tathagatas. Shinran Shonin encountered the true intent of the 48 Vows of Amida Tathagata after he left Mt. Hiei of the Tendai Buddhist order. The true intent can be understood as the following:
the sentient beings are at a loss, and don't know what course of action to take in the life of their worldly desires and passions. Through the Buddha dharma as the 48 Vows of Amida Tathagata, the Buddha wanted to let all sentient beings know the way of true beings (the state of enlightenment). Shinran Shonin’s praise is expressed (ondoku) in the Infinite Life Sutra as the Great Compassion (dai hi) of Tathagata.
Mi wo ko ni shi te mo ho zu be shi
For expressing his deepest gratitude (ho zu be shi) to the Great Compassion, Shinran Shonin studied tirelessly to propagate the teachings of the Infinite Life Sutra. An anecdote about Shinran tells that he had continued making corrections in his main publication, Kyo Gyo Shin Sho until he died. It means he really wanted to share the true understandings of Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Teachings until his life (mi wo) disintegrates into dust (ko ni shi te).
Shi shu Chi shiki no On do ku wa
Shinran Shonin stated all Indian, Chinese, and Japanese Pure Land Masters (shi shu) established Jodo Shinshu to lead sentient beings in their worldly desires, who have wicked and sham intentions to the way of true beings in his book, Jodo Monrui Jusho. We as Jodo Shinshu followers understand Shinran Shonin is a historical founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhist sect. However, Shinran believed that the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist teachings did not start with him. His belief was that the Seven Masters took the
teachings and handed their knowledge (chi shiki) through their commentaries from generation to generation (on doku). Finally, Shinran became the recipient of this accumulated knowledge in the Kamakura period of 13th century Japan. With this awakening, thee propagation of Jodo Shinshu became a lifelong endeavor for him. As we hear about the life story of Shinran Shonin, we learn that he experienced the reverence and appreciation to the historical Buddha and the masters who came before him and gave him the opportunity to encounter Jodo Shinshu Buddhist teachings.
Ho ne wo ku da ki te mo sha su be shi
In Japanese, hone (bone) is sometimes used to express “effort”. For instance, there is an expression, “hone wo oru.” It literally can be translated as “break a bone.” Figuratively, the Japanese expression should be understood as a “one makes an unearthly effort,” or “one does things until he breaks his bone.” We sometimes hear that top athletes practice so hard that they hurt themselves. This is a true case for hone wo oru, breaking a bone. Kudaki means “shattering.” Shinran Shonin thought oru (to break) was not adequate to express his reverence and appreciation to the masters, so he wrote kudaki to express his deepest reverence and appreciation (sha shu be shi) from the bottom of his heart. Shantao, one of the Seven Masters in China, stated “Until my life disintegrates into dust, until my bodily form is finally shattered, I express my sincere appreciation to Buddha’s compassion” in his book, Kannen Homon. Shinran Shonin truly admired Shantao. It seems that both Shantao and Shinran Shonin may have had same perception of Buddha’s compassion. Now the question arises. What were the bone-shattering events for Shinran Shonin? Why did he believe that his bones should be shattered? When Shinran was in his mid-30s, he experienced the religious persecution of the Buddhists priests by the emperor. His teacher, Honen Shonin was exiled to the Shikoku Island, and he was never able to see Honen again. Six of his dharma friends were also exiled while four other dharma friends were executed. While studying under Honen, Shinran was basking in his life of Nembutsu. The onset of the persecution, however, turned into a bone-shattering event. Moreover, it became a life-threatening crisis. In studying Ondokusan at Ryukoku University with Professor Koju Fugen, I learned how seriously Shinran examined
the bone-shattering efforts of many. There are probably many readers of my article who have gone to the temple/church since childhood and have sung Ondokusan a number of times. Do you now have some understandings of Ondokusan? The next time you have the opportunity to sing Ondokusan at a Service, see if you experience Shinran Shonin’s passion and gratitude behind it.
In December, Bodhi Day
is a Festival celebrating the Buddha's enlightenment, but the Śākyamuni Buddha is surprisingly unexciting with his enlightenment; “I simply recognized the whole picture of Dharma, including the secrets of universe and life, and that was it. In the past, in this Universe, of course, there was person who “awakened” to the same perception before me, and the number of such a person cannot be counted." However, the reason why we still admire the Buddha is that Śākyamuni Buddha is the only Buddha who was able to share the Dharma with us.
Śākyamuni Buddha experienced despair immediately after his enlightenment as did all previous Buddhas. It is because the truth-reality that the universal Dharma clarifies is too heavy for the human reality, so it was judged to bring about the result of causing unhappiness. No matter how much he tried, the intellectual conclusion was ‘better not to preach’. At the very end, the overall conclusion made by this "awakened person" was also "rejection of the preaching".
And the moment comes.
In great despair, the Buddha murmured. “All sentient being is sick, except me. And now, I alone am enjoying how immeasurable the wisdom that overflows from buddhahood is!” The following moment, he recognized that he had already stood up from his meditation stanza. And he said, “Ever since I awakened, wisdom-flow has continued overwhelmingly. Now, I am able to guide all sentient beings by the most suitable means for their individual conditions.”
And again he shouted, “How immeasurable the wisdom that overflows from buddhahood is!” in original ancient Indians “Namu-Amitābhaḥ”
Our Jodo Shinshu, a.k.a. Shin Buddhism, begins with this ancient Indian words “Namu-Amitābhaḥ” which the Buddha was confident and committed to decidedly bringing ultimate salvation to all sentient beings.
Let us listen to Shinran Shōnin about Śākyamuni Buddha in his “Shoshin-ge”
[Chapter of Śākya-muni (9~8th B.C. Northern India)]
The Sage of Śākyas revealed the Dharma-nature to the general public for the first time in this world, and realizing his existence as the foundation of universal Buddha-nature as Dynamic-Buddha, a.k.a. Tathāgata (Nyorai).
The pitiable multitudes in the world of five defilements where even a Static-Buddha of enlightened could not appear, must first recite “the Myōgō (=the Buddha-as-words)” and hear the awakening words for knowing Buddha’s immeasurable existence in same Universe.
When each and every individual buddha-nature emerges with the Nenbutsu with utmost joy and love, one necessarily attains Nirvāna even without severing the bonds of blind passions.
By the living of Nenbutsu, ordinary people and sages, even offenders of the five defilements and slanderers of the Buddha-dharma equally turn in like all river waters acquire the one taste of salt when they flow into the ocean.
When we assimilate the Light of Buddha’s Wisdom, we are always illuminated and protected.
Although the Light overcomes the darkest ignorance, our inner blind passions such as greed, anger, hatred, etc. remain, like the clouds and fog that continue to hover over the true and real path to the state of supreme Awakening.
Yet, as the clouds and fog attempt to obscure the light from sun, it is still bright underneath: there is no darkness at all.
One who realizes the original buddha-nature, who sees a true Buddha and pays homage with the utmost joy, immediately leaps toward Nirvana without being disturbed by the wall of the five delusional realms where blind passions rule.
When any beings whether good or bad, ignorant or sinning, ordinary people in any conditions, hear and rely on the Dynamic-Buddha’s own original Intent, Śākya-muni Buddha calls him/her a being with broad, excellent, and insightful understanding.
These practicing followers are known as the “Pundarīkas (Magnificent Lotus)” among the people.
[Conclusion of Paragraph under Sūtra]
Buddha’s Primal Intent is manifested in the Nenbutsu, Namu-Amitābhaḥ (which pronunciation is ‘næḥ-mɔː-mitɑː-bʌḥ’ in Buddha’s natural voice).
Without the Nenbutsu, it is gravely difficult indeed to become for arrogant and selfish sentient beings awakened and to carry on with utmost joy.
Nothing surpasses this most difficult of difficulties.
It don’t mean a Dharma if it ain’t got that Nenbutsu.