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. Rev. Matthew Hamasaki left in January, 2018, to become the minister in Sacramento, and Rev. Kaz Nakata was assigned to the Central California in August, 2019. At the present time, Rev. Nakagawa and Rev. Nakata are the supervising ministers of the Reedley Buddhist Church.
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 February, 2020
2 V & P Super Bowl Day Service
at Reedley 10:00 AM
4 Crab Feed Planning Meeting 7:00 PM
9 Nirvana Day/Monthly Memorial
Family Dharma Service 10:00 AM
BWA Meeting 11:30 AM
13 Church Board Meeting 7:00 PM
14 Valentine’s Day
15 Fowler Food Bazaar
16 Presidents’ Day
19—23 National Council Meeting in Seattle, WA
Rev. Nakagawa's Message
February, 2020 Newsletter Article
Rev. Nakata's Message
February, 2020 Newsletter Article
Beyond Living and Dying – how much makes you feel enough?
“Natural death is not in the least mysterious, but it as understandable as birth itself. Both occurrences are part of a biological process that provides for a perpetual fountain of youth. Remarkable as human bodies are, Nature eventually discards them for fresh ones; and it ought not to be surprising if, remarkable as human personalities are, Nature adopts the same policy towards them.” — Corliss Lamont “The Illusion of Immortality”, p73
In January, I conducted Ho-onko (Annual observance of Shinran Shonin’s memorial) at several temples/churches in Central California. He had 90 years of life in the 13th century. The average lifetime in the century was mid-30s to 40. In fact, a famous Japanese critic, Kenko Yoshida (c. 1283-1352) stated “To have longevity is a shame. We should die before turning 40” in his essay, “Tsure-zure Gusa.” Kenko’s essay suggests that Shinran Shonin was a very rare case to have such a long life.
A few years ago, I took a comparative religion class. It used Moreman’s “Beyond the Threshold (2017)” as the textbook where death and dying in Buddhism and other religions were presented. In the beginning of my article, I quoted Corliss Lamont’s passage which appears in the textbook. Interestingly, in the class, there were students who worked in the medical field as doctors and nurses. They had shared, in class, the medical aspects of death and dying. As a minister, I have had many experiences observing those who have died or were dying while conducting bedside services known as the makurakyo service. None of these experiences have been a “mysterious occurrence” even if lives were lost through accidents or unknown causes. Lamont’s book was published in 1935. According to the Social Security Administration, Life expectancy at birth in 1930 was only 58 for men and 62 for women, and the retirement age was 65!! Since then, many health and medical techniques and technology advancements have changed the world. These advancements have changed the definitions of death and dying substantially.
I would like to share an example.
One day I received a phone call from a woman. She requested a makurakyo service at the hospital for her husband. When I arrived at the hospital, his family members were gathered and were waiting for my arrival. He was about in his mid-40s and appeared to be sleeping. His children, I’m guessing, were teenagers. His wife mentioned that he had been in a deep coma for a few days. The doctor reported that though there was brain function, there was no response. This man was being kept alive by a life support system. In this state he could possibly live another 5 to 10 years.
The wife explained, “We were told that he was in no pain. Our family discussed over the course of the past several days about how we should take care of him and we decided tolet him go. So when you are finished with the chanting, the doctor will stop the system and we will end his life…”
Having experienced such situations on many occasions, I knew what I needed to do and what to expect. As I was chanting, in my mind I questioned whether there was any possibility for this man to regain consciousness. Before the existence of the life support system, those in critical condition simply ended their lives and their family had to accept the loss. The advancements in medicine now has made “something that could not be done” to “something that can be done.”
Rev. Sokusui Murakami, Kangaku (Jodo Shinshu scholar), argued that:
...however much we are convinced that one aspect of our life is fulfilled, it will become an empty delusion when we face our own death. Death is lying at the bottom of our life so that there is no fulfilled life as long as our life is threatened by death itself. Our life can be truly fulfilled only when we transcend the mystical delusion of fearful death. That is the reason why Buddhism encourages us to cope with the solution of death. “Misunderstandings and understandings to Shinran’s teachings.”
Nowadays, it is very rare to see and encounter natural death as well as natural birth. We are surrounded by numerous options which make our life longer or shorter. The example of my makurakyo experience indicates that the length of our life can be practically managed by manmade solutions or man’s will. It means we are dealing with and challenging the area of “threshold”. Therefore, Buddhism, simply, may question us with, “So what?” These dealings and challenges do not settle the fundamental problem of how we can transcend the “mystical delusion of fearful death.” One suggestion Buddhism offers in making such decisions when you or a loved one is facing death is to think about what is enough in living beyond a natural death. There is no right or wrong answer to that question in Buddhism. Buddhism is a teaching of awareness so that there is mindfulness of everyday life circumstances.
There is, then, a realization of what is important beyond living and dying. Once this realization takes place one can live a truly fulfilled moment of life.
“Strength in Sangha”
When the Fresno Betsuin Buddhist Temple’s new board chairman Gordon Ah-Tye presented his 2020 theme of “Strength in Sangha”, I was immediately reminded of one of the most popular poems in 20th century Japan written by the most famous Buddhist poet Kenji Miyazawa.
A logo was created for the T-shirt, which is of geese flying in V-formation over the new Hondo and the sunrise in the background. This explains his wish for a bright future for our sangha and mutual support of all members.
Surprisingly, in the Japanese Buddhist tradition, sunrise means the ideal of Buddhism and bird’s flying formation represent humans traveling in life.
Following is the poem by Kenji Miyazawa, translated by Roger Pulvers and edited by Rinban Nakagawa;
STRONG IN THE RAIN (1931)
Strong in the rain
Strong in the wind
Strong against the summer heat and winter cold
He is healthy and robust
Free from desire
He never loses his temper
Nor the quiet smile on his lips
He eats four cups of unpolished rice
Miso and a few vegetables a day
He does not consider himself
In whatever occurs…
Comes from observation and experience
And he never loses sight of things
He lives in a little thatched-roof hut
In a field in the shadows of a pine tree grove
If there is a sick child in the east
He goes there to nurse the child
If there’s a tired mother in the west
He goes to her and carries her sheaves
If someone is near death in the south
He goes and says, “Don’t be afraid”
If there’s strife and lawsuits in the north
He demands that the people put an end to their pettiness
He sheds tears of sympathy for migrant workers far away from home
He plods about at a loss during the cold summer
Everyone calls him “Blockhead”
No one sings his praises
Or takes him to heart...
That is the sort of person
I want to be”
As Fresno’s 2020 theme suggests, my sincere wish is that ALL temples and ALL sangha work together. We can all benefit from “Strength in Sangha”.