Rev. CJ Dunford’s Ohigan Spring Equinox Dharma Talk

Rev. Dunford shares their reflections on how Shinran Shonin’s Nembutsu teaching challenged the structures of oppression in 13th century Japan, and the inspiration we can find in the Nembutsu as we endeavor to reflect the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha in midst of our own troubled times.

A Reflection on Recent Anti-Asian Attacks

In recent weeks, we have seen a deeply troubling series of attacks on Buddhist and Asian American communities.  These attacks stoke anger and fear in our minds, as we worry for the safety of our family, our friends, and ourselves.  In moments like this, the Buddha appears in our lives to inspire us with the courage to stand in solidarity with our neighbors and speak up with a bold voice that echoes with the wisdom of the Tathagata’s words of truth.  Let us take the Buddha as our guide and work tirelessly so that all beings may live with care and respect for one another as fellow travelers who share a common wish for a life of peace and bliss.

Namo Amida Butsu

A Passage on Right Views from Shinran’s True Teaching, Practice, and Realization

Chapter on Transformed Buddha-Bodies and Lands, Section 88

Chapter Eight, “Evil Spirits” Attainment of Reverent Trust,” part one, of the Great Collection “Moon-Matrix” Sutra, fascicle five, states:

[The Buddha said,] “All beings! If you keep your distance from wrong views, you will gain ten kinds of virtue. What are these ten? First, with your mind pliant and good, you will have companions who are wise and virtuous. Second, believing in the recompense of actions, leading even to death, you will not commit any evil acts. Third, venerating the three treasures, you will not trust in gods. Fourth, adopting right views, you will not decide propitious or unpropitious times according to the season, day or month. Fifth, always being born in realms of human beings or devas, you will never fall into the evil courses. Sixth, attaining a mind of clarity in wisdom and goodness, you will be praised by others. Seventh, abandoning secular involvements, you will always pursue the holy path. Eighth, parting from views of annihilation and eternality, you will believe in the law of causation. Ninth, you will always meet and be with people of right faith, right practice, and right aspiration. Tenth, you will be born into the good courses of existence.

“You will direct the roots of good acquired from casting off wrong views toward attainment of supreme, perfect enlightenment. People who do so quickly fulfill the six paramitas and will attain perfect enlightenment in a Buddha-land of goodness and purity. Having achieved enlightenment, they will adorn sentient beings with their virtues, wisdom, and all their roots of good in their own Buddha-land. Being born in those lands, people do not put trust in gods; leaving behind their fear of the evil course, they will be born into good courses on ending their lives there.”

Shōshinge: Hymn of True Shinjin and the Nembutsu (Session 7)

This month we reflect upon the following verse as it relates to our journey to the Other Shore of enlightenment:

The Name embodying the Primal Vow is the act of true settlement, The Vow of entrusting with sincere mind is the cause of birth;
We realize the equal of enlightenment and supreme nirvana Through the fulfillment of the Vow of attaining nirvana without fail.

Continue reading “Shōshinge: Hymn of True Shinjin and the Nembutsu (Session 7)”

Sangha Voices: tell us your SMBT story!

SMBT is looking to feature you—voices of the Sangha—and your unique story on our website and Facebook page. Everyone has a story to tell, and we’d love to hear about your connection to the temple.

We hope to build a collection of SMBT member profiles to showcase the wonderful members of our community.  If you have a family member or friend who has an SMBT story to share, please encourage them to participate as well.


Send us a photo of you/the storyteller with text (<500 characters) or video (<60 seconds please) answering the questions below:

  • Your name (first name only is okay)
  • How long you’ve been with SMBT
  • How you first became affiliated with SMBT
  • Choose one of these questions:
    • Favorite aspect of the temple
    • How you connect with the temple/Dharma
    • What kind of impact SMBT has had on you
    • Favorite memory of the temple
    • Or anything else of your choosing!

What happens next?

Please send your content to or call (650) 342-2541. Once we receive your material, we’ll get back to you on when we’ll publish your story. We’ll share Sangha voices on a rolling basis, with an aim to post 1-2 stories per month.

Disclaimer: Please note that the content you submit to us will be posted publicly on our digital channels (Facebook page, SMBT website). By submitting content, you agree to grant permission to SMBT to share your recordings (audio, video, digital, and/or images) and quotes/profile online.

Commentary on the Buddha’s Parinirvana

Cited in Shinran’s True Teaching, Practice, and Realization (Kyogyoshinsho), “Chapter on Transform Buddha-bodies and Lands”

Section 71

The Commentary on the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra states, explaining the four reliances:

When Sakyamuni was about to enter nirvana, he said to the bhiksus, “From this day on, rely on dharma, not on people who teach it. Rely on the meaning, not on the words. Rely on wisdom, not on the working of the mind. Rely on the sutras that fully express the meaning, not on those that do not.

“As to relying on dharma, dharma refers to the twelve divisions of scripture. Follow this dharma, not people who teach it.

“With regard to relying on the meaning, meaning itself is beyond debate of such matters as, like against dislike, evil against virtue, falsity against truth. Hence, words may indeed have meaning, but the meaning is not the words. Consider, for example, a person instructing us by pointing to the moon with his finger. [To take words to be the meaning] is like looking at the finger and not at the moon. The person would say, ‘I am pointing to the moon with my finger in order to show it to you. Why do you look at my finger and not the moon?’ Similarly, words are the finger pointing to the meaning; they are not the meaning itself. Hence, do not rely upon words.

“As to relying on wisdom, wisdom is able to distinguish and measure good and evil. The working of mind always seeks pleasure, and does not reach the essential. Hence it is said, ‘Do not rely on mind.’

“As to relying on the sutras that fully express the meaning, among all the sages, the Buddha is foremost. Among all the various scriptures, the Buddha-dharma is foremost. Among all human beings, the assemblage of bhiksus is foremost.”

The Buddha regarded the sentient beings of an age in which there is no Buddha as possessed of deep karmic evil. They are people who have not cultivated the roots of good that would enable them to see a Buddha.

Mental Health Resources

Free Access to Sleep and Meditation Apps

(May be available in other counties, medical insurance groups as well)

Kaiser — (note, it initially provides it is only available to Kaiser Washington patients but if you continue to register and log into your Kaiser account you should still be able to download app.)

San Mateo County Residents —

Los Angeles County Residents —