The mission of the ARIZONA BUDDHIST TEMPLE is to encourage Sangha:
1) to learn the joyful and compassionate teachings of Amida Buddha;
2) to practice these teachings in their daily lives; and
3) to share the teachings with others.
All beings be happy. May they be joyous and live in safety. All living beings, whether weak or strong, tall or short, big or small, visible or not visible, near or far away, already born or yet to be born. May all beings be happy.
May no one deceive or look down on anyone anywhere, for any reason. Whether through feeling angry or through reacting to someone else, may no one want another to suffer. May all beings be happy.
On June 11th, the Arizona Buddhist Temple held the Obon Festival. Our former minister, Rev.
Furumoto, came to the festival and he brought over 50 members from the Senshin Buddhist Temple, where he is the resident minister. Reverend Emeritus Mas Kodani, from the Senshin also came. He was the guest speaker at the Obon/Hatsubon Service on Sunday. He gave a very meaningful Dharma Talk.
Several members from other temples in Southern California also came. People from Tucson also
enjoyed the festival. They said that they had so much fun that they wanted to go to California in July to participate in the Obon festivals there. It was a fun seeing so many dancers that evening.
I want to thank all the Arizona temple members who organized and helped during the Obon weekend. It was a busy weekend cooking food, cleaning and preparing the temple and parking lot. The weekend was successful because of everyone’s help. I also want to thank the Obon dance instructors who led the wonderful dances. The members from the Senshin Buddhist Temple were grateful for the good food and the dancing.
During the Obon Festival on Saturday, there was a dance titled Senbatsuru, “A Thousand Cranes.”
The song is sung in English and Japanese so it is easy to understand. The music is beautiful and the dance is simple to perform. The background story for this dance is based on the story of Sadako Sasaki who experienced the atomic bomb. It was estimated that 140,000 people died from just one bomb. Many people suffered from burns and radiation sickness.
Sadako Sasaki lived in Hiroshima City and she was only two years old when the bomb was dropped. At that time she survived the bomb and she was not injured. However, when she was in sixth grade she became ill. She was diagnosed with leukemia in February of 1955.
One day when she was in the hospital she received a letter from a friend. The friend sent her an
origami of a folded crane. Sadako told herself that if she folded one thousand cranes, she would get
better. In the hospital she folded cranes every day. Unfortunately, after she folded 964 cranes her
condition became worse. She passed away in October 1955.
The family held her funeral and her classmates came. A few days later one student said “Let’s build a statue for the children who suffered from the Atomic Bomb.” The classmates really liked the idea. They started to write letters to ask people around for donations.
During this time, there was a Japanese national meeting of all the school principals being held in
Hiroshima. The students came to the meeting to ask the principals to help them raise money. The
principals liked and accepted this idea about raising money for the statue. Soon a movement swept all over Japan to raise the money.
Finally in May of 1958, the students had raised enough money to build the statue. Today, when you visit the city of Hiroshima, you should go to the Hiroshima Peace Park to see the Children’s Peace Monument. There you will see Sadako’s statue and on the base of the monument there are these words. “This is Our Cry, This is Our Prayer, For Building Peace in the World.”
What does peace mean to you? We hear the news about the violence in Iraq and Syria in the Middle East, in Africa and even here in the United States. We hear of many people dying from war and violence. According to Buddhist teachings, there is no justification to take away human life. However, the reality is that we feel we can justify doing anything, including hurting and killing people, when the conditions and situations arise within us.
What is the Amida Buddha’s wish for us? Amida Buddha understands our true nature which is always filled with blind passions. He made a great wish for us. Amida Buddha established the supreme Vow to save all sentient being, and prepared his Name “Namo Amida Butsu” as a way of salvation for all beings.
His wish is a fulfilled Vow which is the manifestation of his caring mind and heart to all beings. Hiswish enables all of us to attain birth in the Pure Land. Amida Buddha recognized that human being are always sufferings from blind passions which lead to war and violence. For this reason, Amida Buddha is directing his sincere mind from his great wisdom and compassion to all beings at all times and in all situations.
When I think of Sadako Sasaki and the children who helped to build the statue to honor her and the many children who suffered and died from the results of war, radiation and cancer, I am reminded of my own blind passions which cause my suffering. In Buddhism, peace means the attainment of Perfect Peace which is found in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land. Let us all remember that the Amida Buddha’s Great Compassionate Mind is always directing all of us to be born in the Pure Perfect Peace.
Namo Amida Butsu.