The Home of Little Birds

(“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. 

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Parents and Children

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. 

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Parents’ Day Dharma Service: Born into a Noble Family (May 8)

As we gather on Mother’s Day to celebrate our annual Parents’ Day Dharma Service, Rev. Adams will share a traditional Buddhist story about a mother whose sensitivity and kindness toward animals teaches her family to live with genuine empathy. Amida Buddha’s 43rd Vow expresses the Buddha’s wish for all beings to be born into a family whose nobility comes not from their social status, but from the virtues they express in their actions, words, and thoughts:

When I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in other lands, having heard my name, will be reborn into noble families after the end of their lives. 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. Hula Lesson with Stephanie Hagio Chin
9:30 a.m. Dharma Service
10:30 a.m. Dharma Discussion

If you would like to attend the service in person, please email smbt@sanmateobuddhisttemple.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 seated in the Hondo, so please contact us at your earliest convenience if you wish to attend.

To join us for this online Dharma Service, 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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Parent’s Day Service

May 9

This Sunday we will recall the story of Shoma from Sanuki who felt the the comforting presence of a loving parent in Amida Buddha.

Schedule
8:30 a.m. Shoshinge Sofu Chanting
9:00 a.m. Taiso Morning Exercise
9:30 a.m. Dharma Service
10:30 a.m. Dharma Discussion

To join us for this online Dharma Service, CLICK HERE to sign up for “Live Broadcast of Services”.

Buddha Loves You Little Shark

Raising children can be a challenge.  My wife and I have three sons, and there have been times when their behavior has been entertaining for others but exasperating for us as parents.  Our third son is still a baby, but before we know it, he will be crawling, then walking, then running, then talking and making animal sounds.  If he is anything like his big brothers, he will do all these things in the middle of Sunday service.  I once overheard a conversation between a temple member who attended service most Sundays and her daughter, who rarely came to the temple.  The temple-going mother said, “You should come to service more often.  It’s fun to see what mischief Sensei’s son is going to get into next.”  When she noticed me standing within earshot, she hastily added, “I mean you should come to service to hear Sensei’s Dharma talk.”

A few years ago, when one of our older sons was at the height of his “terrific twos,” he was thoroughly enjoying himself crawling around under the pews during the Hanamatsuri Service.  He was having so much fun playing cat-and-mouse with my wife, who was desperately trying to contain his antics, that he scurried off under the pews until he popped out from under the first row and stood grinning back at my wife from the floor right in front of the podium where our guest speaker was delivering the Hanamatsuri Dharma Talk.  The instant my wife moved to get up from her seat to retrieve him, he gleefully dove under the table upon which the Hanamido floral shrine sat at the front of the Hondo.  The table was completely covered from front to back with carefully arranged potted plants to evoke the luxuriant Lumbini’s Garden in which baby Siddhartha, the Buddha-to-be, was born.  The front of the table was covered with a large sheet of white paper, so no-one but me could see my son as he sat happily in an enclosed little space beneath the Hanamido.

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