As Spring arrives, we prepare to observe our Spring Ohigan Service on Sunday, March 20. The word higan 彼岸 means “Other Shore,” and in the Buddhist tradition refers to crossing over the ocean of suffering in the realm of birth and death to arrive at the Other Shore where one enjoys a life of awakening. As I consider my own journey to the Other Shore, I am reminded of the lives of those whose unwavering dedication to seeing the Nembutsu thrive here on the shores of North America has made it possible for me to discover my own path to a life of peace and bliss.
In 1919, there was a growing a community of Japanese Buddhists working on farms around the town of Guadalupe on California’s Central Coast. Many of these intrepid Issei lived in camps near the fields with few comforts and amenities. As families began to take shape with young children, it became clear that these camps did not provide a suitable environment for children to grow and receive an education. Responding to the urgent needs of one family and then another, the local Buddhist minister Rev. Issei Matsuura and his wife Mrs. Shinobu Matsuura opened the doors of the temple and began taking in children one by one until they found themselves caring for over twenty children in what became the Guadalupe Children’s Home.Continue reading “Sustained by the Nembutsu”