The next time you enter the Hondo, or main hall, of the San Mateo Buddhist Temple, I encourage you to take note of the three large plaques that adorn the back wall. The following words are elegantly etched on the top of each plaque, “San Mateo Buddhist Temple Eitaikyo: In Perpetual Memory of.” Below these words, we find the names of several hundred Sangha members who have crossed over to the Other Shore. The names listed on the plaques are individuals included in the San Mateo Buddhist Temple Eitaikyo registry and remembered at our annual Eitaikyo service in November.
All are encouraged to join us for the Eitaikyo Service on Sunday, November 13 at 11:30 a.m. with special Guest Speaker Rev. Dr. Shoyo Taniguchi, retired minister of the Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church. “Eitaikyo” literally means “perpetual sutra.” It is a shortened way of referring to “a service in which we chant sutras in perpetuity to honor those who have left this world before us.” The funds to conduct the Eitaikyo Service come from
donations made when an individual’s name is added to the Eitaikyo Register. Traditionally, Eitaikyo donations have been made by the family of the deceased when a loved one passes away. This practice of dana, or generosity, in grateful memory of a loved one is what has allowed this service to be conducted without interruption since the establishment of our temple. The Eitaikyo service will continue to be conducted as long as our temple exists. By continuing the Eitaikyo service, we ensure that our temple will remain a place to gather and hear the Dharma into the future without end.
We spend most of our time in the Hondo seated facing the image of Amida Buddha at the center of the onaijin shrine area. As we sit together facing the Buddha, hearing the sutras, the gathas, Dharma talks and the Nembutsu, we are reminded that we are fellow travelers in the Nembutsu, with a common destination in Amida Buddha’s realm of peace and bliss. At times, we may have the occasion to stand facing the Sangha at one of the podiums in the front of the Hondo to help chair a service, make an announcement, or share our appreciation of the Buddhadharma.
When I stand facing the Sangha, I see the Eitaikyo plaques and am reminded of those Sangha members who have crossed over to the Other Shore. Those individuals dedicated themselves to building and sustaining our beautiful temple so that we have this special place to gather in the warmth of our Sangha friendships to hear the Nembutsu. When I look to the back of the hall, I feel the presence of those individuals listed on the plaques encouraging me on my journey in the Nembutsu. I feel them delighting that their wish for the wisdom and compassion of Amida Buddha to flourish in this land in perpetuity continues to this day. In the words of the Pure Land Master Daochuo, “ . . . those who have been born first guide those who come later, and those who are born later join those who were born before. This is so that the boundless ocean of birth-and-death be exhausted.” (Collected Works of Shinran, p. 291)
Namo Amida Butsu