Dāna: Giving Peace of Mind

At this time when many of our neighbors are struggling to meet their basic needs, we consider how the Buddhist practice of giving has the power to overcome greed in our lives, our communities, and our society.

This Dharma talk is Part One in a six-part series delivered via Zoom Meeting exploring the core Mahayana Buddhist teaching of the Six Paramitas: giving, discipline, patience, diligence, concentration, and wisdom.  The Six Paramitas describe the characteristics of a well-lived Buddhist life, and endeavoring to practice them in everyday situations is a lifelong journey.

Dharma Discussion: Dāna (July 12, 2020)

Reading and Discussion Questions

Passages referenced in the conversation

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.

Kyōgyōshinshō, Chapter on Shinjin, Section 94

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Ways of Practicing Dana

The three types of Dana:

1. The gift of material goods (財施 zai-se): To share of one’s wealth and property for the benefit of the community and those in need.

2. The gift of Dharma (法施 hō-se): To share one’s appreciation of the Buddha’s teachings.

3. The gift of freedom from fear (無畏施 mui-se): To share the courage of true wisdom, so that the difficulties of life can be met with a calm and peaceful heart.

Seven gifts that do not require any possessions and yet bring great results:

1. The gift of kind eyes (眼施 gen-se): To see goodness and beauty in all people and not look down on others.

2. The gift of peaceful and joyful facial expressions (和顏悦色施 wagen-etsujiki-se): To refrain from frowning and making angry faces even in times of difficulty.

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

4. The gift of a helpful and respectful body (身施 shin-se): To reach out with a helping hand for those in need.  To show attentive and respectful body language to all people.

5. The gift of a generous heart (心施 shin-se): To joyfully give assistance to others without resenting any inconvenience it may cause for oneself.

6. The gift of a comfortable seat (床座施 shōza-se): To offer the most safe and comfortable seat to a guest, even it means giving up one’s own favored seat.

7. The gift of welcoming hospitality: 房舍施 (bōsha-se): To warmly welcome all guests, making them feel at home in one’s company.

Giving Thanks

During this month of November, we have some special opportunities to express our gratitude for all the precious gifts we receive in our lives.  On Sunday, November 17, we will observe our Eitaikyo Service, which is dedicated to grateful remembrance of those temple members whose families felt inspired to donate to the temple Eitaikyo Fund, which exists to ensure that the San Mateo Buddhist Temple will continue to be a place where we can gather to hear the Dharma and joyfully recite the Nembutsu.  On Sunday, November 24, we will hold the Shichigosan Observance at the temple for the families of children ages three, five and seven to express our gratitude and wishes for continuing healthy growth of the children.  On Thursday, November 28, many families and friends will also come together in their homes to celebrate the wonderful American holiday of Thanksgiving.

While gratitude is a theme that we return to throughout the month of November, living in the Nembutsu, we find that gratitude is a daily practice that brings peace and joy to our hearts.  One of the ways in which we cultivate gratitude in our daily lives is by pausing to join our hands in gassho and utter the word “Itadakimasu (I humbly receive)” before beginning a meal, and “Goshisosama deshita (It was feast created through great effort)” at the conclusion of the meal. 

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“This is enough for me”

This past month at the San Mateo Buddhist Temple we were honored to host our friends from the Pacifica Institute, a local Muslim community active here on the San Francisco Peninsula, for an evening of Muslim-Buddhist interfaith conversation that culminated with a delicious Iftar dinner.  Iftar is the traditional meal that is shared by Muslims after sunset to break the fast that begins each morning at dawn during the holy month of Ramadan.  We began our encounter in the Buddha Hall, where I briefly introduced the history of the San Mateo Buddhist Temple and our Jodo Shinshu Buddhist tradition before we chanted Juseige and offered incense. Our guests enjoyed a taste of our Buddhist practice, and several came forward to join in the offering of incense.

We then adjourned to the Social Hall where my good friend Imam Yilmaz Basak provided a clear and informative introduction to the Muslim observance of Ramadan and the significance of fasting in Islam.  Following a prayer at sunset by Imam Yilmaz and our customary Buddhist Words of Thanksgiving before the meal, we enjoyed some dates and water that had been set out on the table while we

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Limitless Life

Over the past month, tragic disasters have occurred one after another, following so closely upon each other’s heels that we scarcely have time to come to grips with one disaster before being confronted with the next. Our San Mateo Buddhist Temple Sangha offers our deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones in these disasters, and offer our heartfelt wishes that those affected will find solace and peace of mind through the working of boundless compassion. In times like this, we seek a guiding light to show us the way forward in our lives, an axis of clarity that will enable us to maintain peace of mind in the midst of all this chaos. I find that guiding light in the teachings of the Buddha and in lives of those who have brilliantly reflected the light of the Buddha’s wisdom.

Lady Takeko Kujo (1887-1928) is one of the bright lights of the Buddha’s wisdom shining in our world during modern times. She was a renowned poet and great humanitarian who worked tirelessly in service of the poor who lived in the slums of Tokyo during the early twentieth century. The following reflections that she composed in response to the devastation she witnessed first-hand during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 shine with the light of precious wisdom.

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In Perpetual Memory

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

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2014-09-14 No Such Thing as a Good Buddhist

2014-09-14 No Such Thing as a Good Buddhist