Ho’onko: the Annual Memorial Service for Shinran Shonin

 In the Jodo Shinshu School of Buddhism, it is customary to hold an annual Ho’onko 報恩講 (Pronounced HOE-OWN-KOH) Memorial Service in remembrance of Shinran Shonin (1173-1263), the Japanese Buddhist priest who we look to as the founder of our tradition.  The tradition of annual Ho’onko services was initiated by Shinran’s great-grandson Kakunyo during the 33rd Year Memorial Service for Shinran.  At the Nishi Hongwanji Temple in Kyoto, Japan, the Hoonko observance is held each year from January 9th to 16th, culminating in an all-night Dharma marathon of talks by ministers from all over Japan.  This year, we will observe Ho’onko at the San Mateo Buddhist Temple on Sunday, January 22.  In temples of the Jodo Shinshu tradition, Ho’onko is considered to be the most important Buddhist service of the year.

If we conducted a survey of our Sangha members asking everyone which of our annual Buddhist services is most important, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear many responses along the lines of Hanamatsuri (Sakyamuni Buddha’s Birthday) or Obon (the grateful remembrance of departed loved ones that we hold every summer).  Of all the Buddhist services we observe throughout the year, why is Shinran’s Memorial Service traditionally given the most emphasis? 

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Shōshinge: Hymn of True Shinjin and the Nembutsu (Session 25)

Wednesday, February 8, 2022

We welcome you to join us via Zoom Meeting from the comfort and safety of your own home on Wednesday, February 8 for this free Dharma Study Class.

6:00 p.m. Shōshinge Sōfu Chanting

Chanting Shōshinge embodies the heart of daily Nembutsu practice in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.  Join us to experience the settled the mind through focused breathing and meditative listening.

7:00 p.m. Reading and Discussion

In this month’s session we will encounter the teachings of the Chinese Pure Land Master Shan-tao (Shandao), whose clarified the meaning of the Contemplation Sutra as an expression of the Buddha’s all-embracing compassion for all beings.

Shan-tao alone in his time clarified the Buddha’s true intent;
Sorrowing at the plight of meditative and non meditative practicers and people of grave evil,
He reveals that Amida’s light and Name are the causes of birth.
When the practicer enters the great ocean of wisdom, the Primal Vow,

He receives the diamondlike mind
And accords with the one thought-moment of joy; whereupon,
Equally with Vaidehi, he acquires the threefold wisdom
And is immediately brought to attain the eternal bliss of dharma-nature.

Full text of Shōshinge

Handout

Coming Soon!

To join us for this online Dharma Session, CLICK HERE and sign up for “Study Classes and Seminars”.

Shōshinge: Hymn of True Shinjin and the Nembutsu (Session 24)

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

We welcome you to join us via Zoom Meeting from the comfort and safety of your own home on Wednesday, December 14 for this free Dharma Study Class.

6:00 p.m. Shōshinge Sōfu Chanting

Chanting Shōshinge embodies the heart of daily Nembutsu practice in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.  Join us to experience the settled the mind through focused breathing and meditative listening.

7:00 p.m. Reading and Discussion

In this month’s session we will continue our study of the teachings of the Chinese Pure Land Master Tao-ch’o (Daochuo), whose teachings illuminate how our encounter with the Buddha’s compassionate vow brings about liberation for all of us who struggle to practice goodness in the world of conflict and delusion.

With kind concern he teaches the three characteristics of entrusting and non-entrusting,
Compassionately guiding all identically, whether they live when the dharma survives as but form, when in its last stage, or when it has become extinct.
Though a person has committed evil all his life, when he encounters the Primal Vow,
He will reach the world of peace and realize the perfect fruit of enlightenment.

Full text of Shōshinge

Handout

Coming Soon!

To join us for this online Dharma Session, CLICK HERE and sign up for “Study Classes and Seminars”.

Shōshinge: Hymn of True Shinjin and the Nembutsu (Session 23)

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

We welcome you to join us via Zoom Meeting from the comfort and safety of your own home on Wednesday, November 9 for this free Dharma Study Class.

6:00 p.m. Shōshinge Sōfu Chanting

Chanting Shōshinge embodies the heart of daily Nembutsu practice in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.  Join us to experience the settled the mind through focused breathing and meditative listening.

7:00 p.m. Reading and Discussion

In this month’s session we will encounter the teachings of the Chinese Pure Land Master Tao-ch’o (Daochuo), whose teachings encourage us to pass through the Pure Land Gate and recite the Name of Amida Buddha (Namo Amida Butsu).

Tao-ch’o determined how difficult it is to fulfill the Path of Sages,
And reveals that only passage through the Pure Land gate is possible for us.
He criticizes self-power endeavor in the myriad good practices,
And encourages us solely to say the fulfilled Name embodying true virtue.

Full text of Shōshinge

Handout

To join us for this online Dharma Session, CLICK HERE and sign up for “Study Classes and Seminars”.

“Namo Amida Butsu” Heard Throughout the World (February 6)

Rev. Hogen Fujimoto

The words “Namo Amida Butsu” are the voice of the Buddha calling us to take refuge in his awakening, wherever we may be, whatever we may be doing. Through his work in prison chaplaincy, Rev. Hogen Fujimoto brought the comfort and guidance of the Nembutsu into the lives of inmates who were seeking to direct their lives toward wisdom and compassion.

This Sunday, Rev. Adams will share the inspiration he’s received Rev. Fujimoto’s memoir Out of the Mud Grows the Lotus, and how Rev. Fujimoto’s work in the prisons reflects the 17th Vow of Amida Buddha, which affirms the Buddha’s commitment that his voice of wisdom will reach all those who seek the path to awakening:

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the countless Buddhas throughout the worlds in the ten quarters should not all glorify and praise my name, 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 Exercise with Juliet and Grace Bost
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”.

Shōshinge: Hymn of True Shinjin and the Nembutsu (Session 16)

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

This month’s session will continue to explore the teachings of the Pure Land Master Nagarjuna, who clarifies that mindfulness of Amida Buddha is the path swiftly realize the settled mind.

He teaches that the moment one thinks on Amida’s Primal Vow,
One is naturally brought to enter the stage of the definitely settled;
Solely saying the Tathagata’s Name constantly,
One should respond with gratitude to the universal Vow of great compassion.

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Into the name flow all of Amida’s uncountable virtues

. . . into the name flow all of Amida’s uncountable virtues.  That is to say, in the name are contained all the merits and virtues of Amida’s inner enlightenment, such as the four kinds of wisdom, the three bodies, the ten powers, and the four kinds of fearlessness. Also contained in it are all the merits and virtues of his outward activities, such as the major and minor bodily characteristics, the emanation of light, the preaching of the Dharma, and the benefitting of sentient beings.

(Honen’s Senchakushu published by the Kuroda Institute, page. 76)

Hōnen Shōnin’s parting words to his students on the occasion of his being sent into exile

“Do not resent my being sent into exile, for I am approaching eighty years of age.  Even if we were living together as teacher and students in the capital, my departure from this saha world is drawing near.  Even if we are separated by mountains and oceans, do not doubt that we will meet again in the Pure Land.  Though we may reject this world, our human existence carries on.  Though we may cling to life, our death will come.  Why insist upon being in a certain place?

“What’s more, while I have spent all these years sharing the Nembutsu teaching here in the capital, it has been my heartfelt wish to go into the outlying regions and share the teachings with the farmers who work the fields.  However, a time had not come when I was able to fulfill that wish.  That I am now able to pursue this long-held wish is thanks to the great benevolence of the emperor.

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At the Fair, on the Farm

Having spent much of past sixteen months sheltering at home, this summer has brought a joyful return to some of our favorite pre-pandemic activities, including a visit to the San Mateo County Fair.  Even breathing through my mask, the smells of the county fair brought back waves of memories of past summers.  The smell of barbequed ribs, turkey legs, and French fries reminded me of leisurely summer afternoons enjoying fairs and festivals with my wife and sons.  The farm smells of pigs, goats and cattle in the livestock showcase brought back memories of summer visits to the family farms of my relatives living in Iowa.  I recall the first time my son received a tour of the cattle barns on my aunt and uncle’s farm.  At one point, he asked my aunt, “Can we see something that doesn’t smell?”  She laughed and replied, “Well, we are on a farm.”

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