From Issa’s The Year of My Life

It is a commonplace of life that the greatest pleasure issues ultimately in the greatest grief.  Yet why—why is that this child of mine, who has not tasted half the pleasures that the world has to offer, who ought, by rights, to be as fresh and green as the vigorous young needles on the everlasting pine—why must she lie here on her deathbed, swollen with blisters, caught in the loathsome clutches of the vile god of pox?  Being, as I am, her father, I can scarcely bear to watch her withering away—a little more each day—like some pure, untainted blossom that is ravished by the sudden onslaught of mud and rain.
              After two or three days, however, her blisters dried up and the scabs began to fall away—like a hard crust of dirt that had been softened by the melting snow.  In our joy we made a boat with fresh straw, and pouring hot wine ceremoniously over it, sent it down the river with the god of smallpox on it.  Yet our hopes proved all in vain.  She grew weaker and weaker, and finally on the twenty-first of June, as the morning-glories were just closing their flowers, she closed her eyes forever.  Her mother embraced the cold body and cried bitterly.  For myself—I knew well it was no use to cry, that water once flown past the bridge does not return, and blossoms that are scattered are gone beyond recall.  Yet try as I would, I could not, simply could not cut the binding cord of human love.  

The world of dew
Is the world of dew,
And yet . . .
And yet . . .

(The Year of My Life: A Translation of Issa’s Oraga Haru, by Nobuyuki Yuasa, p. 103-104)

Letter on White Ashes

By Rennyo Shonin

 When I deeply contemplate the transient nature of human existence, I realize that, from beginning to end, life is impermanent like an illusion. We have not yet heard of anyone who lived ten thousand years. How fleeting is a lifetime!

 Who in this world today can maintain a human form for even a hundred years? There is no knowing whether I will die first or others, whether death will occur today or tomorrow. We depart one after another more quickly than the dewdrops on the roots or the tips of the blades of grasses. So it is said. Hence, we may have radiant faces in the morning, but by evening we may turn into white ashes.

 Once the winds of impermanence have blown, our eyes are instantly closed and our breath stops forever. Then, our radiant face changes its color, and the attractive countenance like peach and plum blossoms is lost. Family and relatives will gather and grieve, but all to no avail.

 Since there is nothing else that can be done, they carry the deceased out to the fields, and then what is left after the body has been cremated and turned into midnight smoke is just white ashes. Words fail to describe the sadness of it all.

 Thus the ephemeral nature of human existence is such that death comes to young and old alike without discrimination. So we should all quickly take to heart the matter of the greatest importance of the afterlife, entrust ourselves deeply to Amida Buddha, and recite the nembutsu.

 Humbly and respectfully.

On the Path Free from Doubt

As we remember our loved ones who crossed over to the Other Shore in the month of November, Rev. Adams considers the peace of mind that we realize through trusting in the Buddha’s compassionate vow.

To join us for online Dharma Services, CLICK HERE to sign up for “Live Broadcast of Services”.

The First Noble Truth: Removing Pain and Giving Comfort

Rev. Adams shares reflections on Veteran’s Day and transforming conflict through compassion, particularly how the practice of removing pain and giving comfort provides healing in our lives, in our communities and between nations.

To join us for online Dharma Services, CLICK HERE to sign up for “Live Broadcast of Services”.

Nembutsu Halloween

Rev. Adams shares his encounter with a marvelous person of the Nembutsu while trick-or-treating in his neighborhood.

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The First Noble Truth: Suffering from Aging

In the First Noble Truth, the Truth of Suffering, the Buddha encourages us to recognize that aging is an unavoidable part of our lives.  In this talk Rev. Adams shares what it was like to get back on a skateboard at age 38. We also recall the lives of Rennyo Shonin and the Myokonin Genza, who show us how to age with peace of mind and kindness for others. 

During the 2020-2021 Dharma School Year, we will be exploring the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path taught by Sakyamuni Buddha in the first Dharma Talk he delivered after realizing Enlightenment, known as the First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma. 

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Shōshinge: Hymn of True Shinjin and the Nembutsu (Session 3)

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

We welcome you to join us via Zoom Meeting from the comfort and safety of your own home on Wednesday, September 9 for this free Dharma Study Class.

6:00 p.m. Shōshinge Sōfu Chanting

The chanting of Shōshinge embodies the heart of daily Nembutsu practice in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.  Join us to experience the settling of the mind through focused breathing and meditative listening.

7:00 p.m. Reading and Discussion

This month we will learn about the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha, which is the heart of the Jodo Shinshu teaching, as we consider the following lines from Shōshinge:

He then established the supreme, incomparable Vow;
He made the great Vow rare and all-encompassing.

Full text of Shōshinge

Reference Materials

48 Vows of Bodhisattva Dharmakara (Amida Buddha)

Handout

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Remembering Suzie the Black Lab

We gratefully remember the animals who provide us with companionship as our pets. We also show our appreciation for the plants that support our lives, including the cut flowers that adorn the Buddha Shrine and bring us joy through their beauty.

To join us for online Dharma Services, CLICK HERE to sign up for “Live Broadcast of Services”.