Dharma Discussion: Wisdom/Prajñā (August 23, 2020)

Click here to read about the Buddhist Virtue of Wisdom

Discussion Questions

  1. What is a difficult situation that Buddhist wisdom has enabled you to accept with peace of mind?
  2. What is a difficult situation that Buddhist wisdom has given you to courage to work to change?
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Dharma Discussion: Concentration/Dhyāna (August 16, 2020)

Click here to read about the Buddhist Virtue of Concentration

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever experience a state of deep concentration that enabled to you do an activity skillfully and without distraction, sometimes described as a “flow state” or being “in the zone”? What gave rise to that state of mind? Were you able to replicate it on more than one occasion?
  2. Has Buddhist practice in general, and the Nembutsu specifically, helped you to cultivate a concentrated mind at times?
  3. What the greatest obstacles you face in maintain mental concentration?
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Dharma Discussion: Diligence/Vīrya (August 2, 2020)

Click here to read about the Buddhist Virtue of Diligence

Discussion Questions

  1. What motivates you to study the Buddha’s teachings?
  2. How have the goals that you are working to achieve in your life shifted as a result of hearing the Dharma and the Nembutsu?
  3. How has your way of working changed as a result of your encounter with the Nembutsu?
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Dharma Discussion: Kṣānti (July 26, 2020)

Click here to read about the Buddhist Virtue of Patience

How is patience defined in Mahayana Buddhism?

Three aspects[i]

(1) not giving rise to anger or annoyance—not getting angry in the first place

(2) not clinging to hatred and grudges—if you get angry, not holding onto it

(3) not harboring ill will

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Dharma Discussion: Śīla (July 19, 2020)

Please review the Bodhisattva Precepts

Discussion Questions

  1.  How do you practice these precepts in your daily life?
  2. Is there meaning in doing one’s best, even though one is not able to practice these perfectly in daily life?
  3. Which of these do you think our world needs most at the present moment?

Honen’s Perspective on upholding precepts (from The Passages on the the Selection of the Nembutsu in the Original Vow)

If the original vow required us to make images of the Buddha and to build stupas, the poor and destitute would surely have no hope of birth, but the fact is that the rich and highborn are few, while the poor and lowborn are exceedingly many.  

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Bodhisattva Precepts

In Mahayana Buddhism, the following Bodhisattiva Precepts are commonly taken by both lay and monastic practicers to affirm their commitment to the ideals of Mahayana Buddhism:

The Three Treasures

  1. Taking refuge in the Buddha
  2. Taking refuge in the Dharma
  3. Taking refuge in the Sangha

The Three Pure Precepts

  1. Do not create Evil
  2. Practice Good
  3. Actualize Good For Others

Ten Grave Precepts

  1. not killing         
  2. not stealing 
  3. no debauchery 
  4. not lying 
  5. no trafficking in intoxicants
  6. not talking of the faults of other members of the sangha 
  7. not praising oneself and belittling others
  8. not bringing harm through stinginess 
  9. not letting one’s anger lead to resentment 
  10. not denigrating the Three Treasures 

“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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Falling Short

As we welcome the arrival of autumn, we will be observing our Autumn Ohigan Service on Sunday, September 21 at 9:30 a.m. The Japanese Buddhist observance of Ohigan traditionally focuses on study and reflection on the Six Paramitas, a set of Buddhist virtues that, when perfected, lead us to cross over from “this shore” in the deluded world of birth and death to arrive at the “other shore” of liberation in Nirvana.

The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word paramita is “Crossing over to the Other Shore.” In Chinese and Japanese translation, the term paramita is sometimes rendered as tōhigan到彼岸 “arriving at the other shore.” This imagery of crossing over to the other shore is the basis for Japanese Buddhist celebrations of Ohigan observed at the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes. In many Buddhist communities, it is customary to hold seven-day observances of Ohigan, with the middle day dedicated to gratitude towards one’s ancestors and each of the remaining six days dedicated to one of the Six Paramitas.

The Six Paramitas are listed below along with a brief explanation of the meaning of each:

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