SMBT Zoom Service Will Resume on August 7

Please note that we will not have a Dharma Service at the San Mateo Buddhist Temple on the morning of Sunday, July 31, due to the temple picnic. 

We warmly welcome you to join us in-person or via Zoom when we resume our regular service schedule on Sunday, August 7.

Thank you very much for your patience and understanding!

In Gassho,
Rev. Henry Adams
San Mateo Buddhist Temple

The Gift of a Kind & Helpful Body (July 24)

This Sunday, July 24, Rev. Adams will be back live in-person at the San Mateo Buddhist Temple for part four of our summer Dharma Talk series on the Seven Gifts that Do Not Require Possessions.

The gift of a kind and helpful body: To reach out with a helping hand for those in need.  To show attentive and respectful body language to all people.

Schedule
8:30 a.m. Shoshinge Sofu Chanting (click here for chanting text)
9:00 a.m. Sangha Activity
9:30 a.m. Dharma Service
10:30 a.m. Japanese Language Dharma Talk 日本語法話

All ages are welcome to join in-person without prior registration.  Proof of full Covid-19 vaccination required for eligible individuals age 5 and older.  Up to 36 in-person attendees will be seated in the Hondo, with overflow seating available in the adjacent Social Hall.

To join us for this hybrid service via Zoom, CLICK HERE to sign up for “Live Broadcast of Services”.

The Gift of Kind Words (July 17)

For part three of our summer Dharma Talk series on the Seven Gifts that Do Not Require Possessions Rev. Adams will share a Dharma Talk via Zoom from his home state of Minnesota.

The gift of kind words (言辭施 gonji-se): To speak gently to others, refraining from coarse and rude speech.

Schedule
(Shoshinge chanting will resume on July 24)

9:00 a.m. Mindful Meditation
9:30 a.m. Dharma Service
10:30 a.m. Dharma Discussion

All ages are welcome to join in-person without prior registration.  Proof of full Covid-19 vaccination required for eligible individuals age 5 and older.  Up to 36 in-person attendees will be seated in the Hondo, with overflow seating available in the adjacent Social Hall.

To join us for this hybrid service via Zoom, CLICK HERE to sign up for “Live Broadcast of Services”.

The Honored One

In the month of April we hold our Hanamatsuri Service celebrating the birth of Siddhartha Gautama 2,645 years ago in Lumbini, Nepal.  One who diligently progresses on the path to Buddhahood over the course of many lifetimes is called a bodhisattva.  The Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life (The Larger Sutra) provides the following description of a bodhisattva’s birth in the lifetime in which they will attain awakening:

Immediately after [the bodhisattva’s] birth from [his mother’s] right side, he walked seven steps. A brilliant light shone from his body, illuminating all the ten quarters, and countless Buddha-lands shook with six kinds of tremors. He then said, “I shall become the supremely honored one in the world.”

(The Three Pure Land Sutras: Volume II, pg. 5)

This description seems improbable from a modern scientific worldview, but these words are an expression of religious truth rather than scientific fact.  Scientific facts are based on empirical observations, such as what we can see with our eyes, hear with our ears, or measure with our hands.  From that perspective this life begins the moment we are born with this body and ends at the moment of death.  This way of viewing the world is limited by what can be measured.

Continue reading “The Honored One”

The Gift of Kind Eyes (June 26)

We will begin our summer Dharma Talk series on the Seven Gifts that Do Not Require Possessions with a talk on The Gift of Kind Eyes (眼施 gen-se): To see goodness and beauty in all people and not look down on others. Rev. Adams will share thoughts on how seeing this world we live in through the kind eyes of the Buddha can change our perspective on challenges facing our community, such as homelessness and addiction.

Schedule
8:30 a.m. Shoshinge Sofu Chanting (click here for chanting text)
9:00 a.m. Taiso Morning Exercise
9:30 a.m. Dharma Service
10:30 a.m. Japanese Language Service 日本語法要

All ages are welcome to join in-person without prior registration.  Proof of full Covid-19 vaccination required for eligible individuals age 5 and older.  Up to 36 in-person attendees will be seated in the Hondo, with overflow seating available in the adjacent Social Hall.

To join us for this hybrid service via Zoom, CLICK HERE to sign up for “Live Broadcast of Services”.

The Kind Eyes of the Buddha

This month marks two years that we have been living through this pandemic experience.  Temple activities, family gatherings, and our friendships have all been affected, but looking back on the ways Covid-19 has impacted our lives, it seems to me that the greatest challenge for me was having our kids out of school and studying from home for over a year.  Doing our best to support their online learning, while also attending to our responsibilities with work and household matters made us feel pushed to the limit.  We struggled daily to set boundaries to keep our sons on task with the work they needed to do and steer them away from the distractions and mischief that would interrupt their learning.

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Do you want to go to the Pure Land?

        February is the month in which we observe our Nirvana Day Service at the San Mateo Buddhist Temple in commemoration of Sakyamuni Buddha’s realization of the great tranquility of parinirvana approximately 2,500 years ago at Kushinagar in northern India.  Having attained the wisdom of enlightenment, when his time in this world drew to a close Sakyamuni Buddha met the end of his human life with a peaceful mind as he passed into the state of final Nirvana.  When those who live in the nembutsu with deep entrusting in Amida Buddha reach the end of life in this world, they are immediately born in the Pure Land where they realize the same enlightenment that brought Sakyamuni Buddha enduring peace of mind.  That said, we would expect there to be many people eagerly looking forward to birth in the Pure Land.  Are you one of them?

In a recent conversation, a Sangha member raised an interesting question, “I understand that in the Jodo Shinshu teaching the goal is to be born in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha, but honestly speaking, I don’t have a feeling of wanting to be born in the Pure Land.  Should I be concerned about that?” 

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Catching a Dharma Cold

            As we welcome the New Year, many of us are enjoying a long-anticipated return to family holiday gatherings.  My family and I are happy to be travelling to visit my relatives in Minnesota for the first time in two and half years.  Getting together in one place with family and friends, we are reminded how wonderful it is to spend time together in person.   Sitting together in a cozy room, enjoying the flavors of favorite family dishes shared at a common table, breathing in the delicious aromas while laughing together and sharing stories—these are experiences we have come to truly savor after a long separation.

            A Dharma friend recently shared with me their family’s experience of coming together this year to celebrate Thanksgiving.  The whole family gathered around the dinner table to enjoy the traditional feast and lively conversation.  A few days after the gathering one of the attendees began to feel flu-like symptoms and then came down with a fever.  Even though they had been fully vaccinated and received a booster shot, when they received a Covid test, the result came back positive.  The rest of the family members got tested and two more came back positive for Covid.  Fortunately, everyone in the group had been vaccinated, so those who were infected did not get seriously ill.  Nevertheless, my Dharma friend encourages everyone to get tested for Covid prior to getting together with family and friends this holiday season.

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The Path to Awakening

On Sunday, December 5 at 9:30 a.m., we welcome you to join us at the San Mateo Buddhist Temple for our Bodhi Day Service celebrating Sakyamuni Buddha’s awakening at the age of 35 when he conquered Mara’s army of delusion and fully realized the path to liberation from suffering.  If you would like to attend the Bodhi Day service in person, please email smbt@sanmateobuddhisttemple.orgor call (650) 342-2541 to reserve a seat. Full Covid-19 vaccination is required. A maximum of 30 in-person attendees will be allowed, so please contact us at your earliest convenience if you wish to attend.  You also have the option of continuing to join the service from home via Zoom Meeting.

Sakyamuni left home at age 29 to seek the path to awakening.  What he sought was not merely a path that led to his individual enlightenment, but rather a path that all beings could follow to realize liberation and cross into the world of awakening.  When he realized awakening under the Bodhi Tree, not only did he arrive at the destination he had been progressing toward for years up to that moment in his life, his path forward to guide all beings to liberation also became perfectly clear.

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Sadness and Compassion

Conducting funerals and memorial services is one of the characteristic activities of a Japanese Buddhist temple.  As a result, Buddhism is closely associated with death in the minds of many people in Japanese communities.  When I became a Buddhist priest, one of my friends who had lost her mother at a young age asked me, “Isn’t it depressing to be around so much sadness all the time?”

Certainly, every encounter with death is deeply saddening.  At the same time, sadness is deeply connected with the Buddha’s compassion that liberates us from suffering.  Shinran Shonin shares the following reflection on compassion (jihi 慈悲) in his major work The True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way:

[Concerning compassion (jihi慈悲):] To eliminate pain is termed ji 慈; to give happiness is termed hi 悲. Through ji 慈, one eliminates the pain of all sentient beings; through hi 悲, one becomes free of thoughts that do not bring them peace.

(Collected Works of Shinran, p. 169)

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