(“Kotori no ie” by Akamatsu Gessen, illustrated by Tateno Yasunosuke, in Bukkyo Dōwa Zenshū, Vol. 8, p. 139-147, Translation by Henry Adams)
Long ago in the Latter Han Dynasty, there was a family named Yang who lived in the Chinese capital. They had one son named Bao. This story takes place when Bao was nine years old.
Bao’s father worked for a government official of low rank, but he was a dedicated and hard-working man. Bao’s mother was a quiet and deeply caring woman. While she did not make a particularly strong impression at first, even a passing conversation with her would give a genuine sense of her true kindness.
Bao’s mother was kind to little birds. She did not keep them as pets, but they would be naturally drawn to her, because she always set scraps of food outside the kitchen for them to eat.
In the month of May we observe our Gōtan-e Service celebrating the birth of Shinran Shonin, the founder of our Jodo Shinshu school of Buddhism. During the Gōtan-e Service, we place a statue of Shinran Shonin as a young boy in the temple hall and recall the story of his childhood. May is also the month in which we celebrate Mother’s Day and express the gratitude and appreciation we feel for the mothers in our lives. As we observe these two holidays of Gōtan-e and Mother’s Day, the month of May provides us with precious occasions to reflect upon the karmic bond between parents and children. The parental figures in our lives are not limited to our biological parents. Grandparents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are other examples of those who can provide the care and guidance of a parent in our lives.
According to tradition, Shinran Shonin was separated from his mother at a young age and left home to receive ordination as a Buddhist monk at the age of nine. While the time that Shinran spent living with his mother and father was brief, he had a profound sense of receiving parental love and care in his life.
The unequal treatment of women has been a problem in human society since ancient times. Sakyamuni Buddha addressed this problem when he taught Amida Buddha’s 35th Vow, which affirms the realization of Buddhahood by women. This week’s Dharma Talk will reflect on how the 35th Vow has inspired generations of Nembutsu followers to show great courage in seeking the Dharma and maintaining inclusive communities.
When I attain Buddhahood, the women throughout the countless and inconceivable Buddha‐worlds in the ten quarters, having heard my name, will rejoice in entrusting heart, awaken the mind aspiring for enlightenment, and wish to renounce the state of being discriminated against as a women. If, after the end of their lives, they should continue to suffer from discrimination against women, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.
(H. Adams Translation)
Schedule 8:30 a.m. Shoshinge Sofu Chanting (click here for chanting text) 9:00 a.m. Mindful Meditation with Dr. April Chun 9:30 a.m. Dharma Service 10:30 a.m. Japanese Dharma Service
To join us online for this Dharma Service, CLICK HERE to sign up for “Live Broadcast of Services”.
If you would like to attend the service in person, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (650) 342-2541 to reserve a seat. Full Covid-19 vaccination is required. A maximum of 36 in-person attendees will be allowed, so please contact us at your earliest convenience if you wish to attend. Please do not come to the temple without registering in advance.
When we become set in our ways, it feels burdensome to disrupt our comfortable routine in order to care for others. Amida Buddha’s 33rd Vow affirms that the light of the Buddha’s wisdom softens the hard stubbornness of our minds and gives us the flexibility to be helpful toward others:
When I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings throughout the countless and inconceivable Buddha‐worlds in the ten quarters, having received my light and having been touched by it, will become soft and gentle in body and mind, surpassing humans and devas in those qualities. Should it not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.
Schedule 8:30 a.m. Shoshinge Sofu Chanting (click here for chanting text) 9:00 a.m. Taiso Morning Exercise with Juliet and Grace Bost (pre-recorded) 9:30 a.m. Dharma Service 10:30 a.m. Shotsuki Hoyo Monthly Memorial Service
To join us for this online Dharma Service, CLICK HERE to sign up for “Live Broadcast of Services”.
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.
This session will delve into the meaning expressed the following metaphor of the sun that shines through clouds and mists, and how the Buddha’s wisdom illuminates our lives even in times of difficulty and confusion.
The light of compassion that grasps us illumines and protects us always; The darkness of our ignorance is already broken through; Still the clouds and mists of greed and desire, anger and hatred, Cover as always the sky of true and real shinjin.
But though light of the sun is veiled by clouds and mists, Beneath the clouds and mists there is brightness, not dark. When one realizes shinjin, seeing and revering and attaining great joy, One immediately leaps crosswise, closing off the five evil courses.
In this first session in the Shōshinge Study Class Series, we explore the meaning of the Shōshinge and how it applies to our daily lives, beginning with the opening verse: I take refuge in the Tathagata of Immeasurable Life! I entrust myself to the Buddha of Inconceivable Light!
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
We will be explore the meaning of the Shōshinge and how it applies to our daily lives, beginning with the opening verse: I take refuge in the Tathagata of Immeasurable Life! I entrust myself to the Buddha of Inconceivable Light!
To join us for this online Dharma Session, CLICK HERE and sign up for “Study Classes and Seminars”.
To realize shinjin oneself and to guide others to shinjin Is among difficult things yet even more difficult. To awaken beings everywhere to great compassion Is truly to respond in gratitude to the Buddha’s benevolence.