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.
Sunday, December 31st
New Year's Eve
07:00 pm - Joya-E Service
Monday, January 1st
New Year's Day
10:00 am - Shusho-E Service
Sunday, January 7th
09:00 am - Q&A Session
09:00 am - Women's Club Meeting
10:00 am - Dharma Service, Shotsuki Hoyo
11:00 am - Temple Clean Up
Sunday, January 14th
08:30 am - Meditation Class
10:00 am - Dharma Service, Ho-Onko
11:00 am - Dharma School Class
Sunday, January 21st
09:00 am - Q&A Session
10:00 am - Dharma Service
11:00 am - Dharma School Class
11:30 am - General Meeting
Sunday, January 28th
08:30 am - Meditation Class
10:00 am - Dharma Service, Ho-Onko
11:00 am - Dharma School Class
The official podcast of the Arizona Buddhist Temple hosted on SoundCloud. The purpose of this cast is to spread the teachings of the Dharma and provide different insights into the teachings of the Buddha. Every cast is a brief introduction of Buddhist concepts, followed by a Dharma message written by one of the temple ministers.
Rev. Lynn Sugiyama
Sensei Vonn Magnin
Sensei Mike Tang
HAPPY NEW YEARS!
On behalf of Vonn Magnin Sensei, Michael Tang Sensei, our families and myself, I want to wish everyone a very Happy 2018 New Year! This is the Year of the Dog! Those who are born during the Year of the Dog (2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, etc.), they have a sympathetic and intelligent character. People of the Year of the Dog are friendly, and they enjoy relationships, love, and they will never disappoint anyone. I hope that 2018 is a good year for everyone.
The other day, my daughter and I saw the movie, Star Wars: the Last Jedi. It was a great movie and we enjoyed watching it. The wise Master Yoda was a little green person who taught Luke Skywalker how to be a great and noble Jedi knight. Without giving too much away from the movie, one lesson Master Yoda teaches is, “Failure can be a great teacher!”
As we all learned in school, Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb. He once said, “I did not fail 2,000 times. I discovered 2,000 ways that did not work!” Now his invention helps to light homes through out the whole world. His failures helped him find ways to improve or change the technology to make the light bulb work successfully.
When I reflect upon the life of Shinran Shonin, we don’t think of him as a failure. He was a great scholar in the Buddhist studies. However, when he was a monk at the monastery on Mount Hiei in Kyoto, Japan, he felt no spiritual peace in the teachings. As a young man, he practiced very hard to contain his anger, desires and cravings but he still felt no peace. He felt that he failed to truly understand the Buddhist teachings.
When Shinran Shonin was 29 years old, he heard of Master Honen and the Nembutsu teachings. He met this teacher and learned about a place of bliss and peace called Amida Buddha’s Pure Land. Amida Buddha made a vow or promise to save all beings who say “Namo Amida Butsu.” This is the Nembutsu teaching that translates into, “I take refuge in the Amida Buddha.” To take refuge is to be grasped and protected by Amida Buddha, even though we are imperfect. To realize this is and to entrust ourselves to the Amida Buddha is our attainment of birth in the Pure Land.
This teaching helped Shinran Shonin transcend his sense of failure. He developed the entrusting heart and mind to the Amida Buddha and he was able to attain spiritual peace and happiness. Shinran Shonin felt this teaching would help other people and he traveled to many places around Japan. He gained many disciples and followers who carried on his teachings. Now, many centuries later, his teachings bring spiritual peace to followers at the Arizona Buddhist Temple.
Sometimes failure is very painful. Often times, things do not work out the way we wish. I have sometimes failed in doing well in school or failed to reach my goals in life. However, it is important to learn from failure and work on improving and giving your best effort toward your goals. Shinran Shonin felt his studies and practice at the Buddhist monastery were in vain. However by finding the Nembutsu path, he was able find the peace he sought to attain.
It is comforting to know that Amida Buddha accepts me as I am. It does not depend if we are young or old, rich or poor, successful or not, Amida Buddha is always with us. Shinran Shonin passionately taught to live life with gratitude from the wisdom and compassion of Amida Buddha and to cherish the life we share with family and friends.
For the 2018, let us continue to come to the Arizona Buddhist Temple to listen to the Buddhist teachings. We all travel on the great Nembutsu path together. Thank you for reading. Happy New Year!
Namo Amida Butsu,
Rev. Lynn Sugiyama
Megan Tang - January 2018
On behalf of the Temple, I would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2018 New Year! December was a very busy month, and with the holiday season, a month to reflect on this past year. Many of us have faced multiple losses, challenges, and struggles this over the last year and I would like to thank each and every one of you for your attendance, participation, and support of the Arizona Buddhist Temple as it has continued to be a place of home, refuge, and strength for many.
The month of January brings us to a new year. All members should have received election ballots for the Board of Directors. Please make sure to turn in your ballots by Sunday, January 7th in order for your vote to count. In the new year, Vonn Magnin will be stepping down from the Board of Directors so that he can continue to focus his efforts on ministerial duties and as one of the advisors for YBA. I would like to thank Vonn for his years of service at our Temple as he has been an invaluable member of the board.
We also will be having our annual General Meeting of the membership on Sunday, January 21st. Members will be receiving notices in the mail for this meeting along with proxy forms. Please make sure to fill out a proxy form if you are unable to attend and return to the Temple before the General Meeting date to make sure your vote gets counted!
Starting this year, the Temple will be having a membership drive in the month of January each year. We hope this will bring new opportunities to sign up for and renew Temple membership.
Arizona Buddhist Temple Women's Club
A Tree Dedication Service in Memory of Chuck Matsumoto was observed on December 17. Thank you to Rev. Gregory Gibbs with the assistance of Rev. Lynn Sugiyama, Minister Assistants Vonn Magnin and Michael Tang for officiating and to Mino Inoshita, Tom Kajimura and Sam Matsumoto for digging out the old pine tree where the Crape Myrtle tree was planted. We would also like to thank them for maintaining the temple buildings and grounds, and to Fran Johnston and Nancy Tsubota-Haranaka for maintaining the temple gardens.
Thank you to everyone who helped with Mochitsuki on December 16 and 17. It was cold and rainy early Sunday morning, but turned out to be a beautiful day, perfect for making mochi. As a “thank you” to everyone who supported the ABT Thrift Store, the main meal was provided, and we hope everyone enjoyed it. Also, thank you to everyone who brought their favorite side dish, dessert and drinks.
The Jr. YBA., Sangha Teens and Dharma students prepared a delicious spaghetti luncheon for Bodhi Day. Thanks to the students for preparing and serving the lunch.
The 2018 Matsuri Festival is on Saturday and Sunday, February 24 and 25 at the Heritage and Science Park in downtown Phoenix. This is our biggest fundraiser, so please put these days on your calendar. There are several members that need to renew their Food Service Worker Card. We will notify you if it is necessary for you to take the test. If you would like to help but do not have a card, we ask that you take the test. Maricopa County is no longer issuing the Food Service Worker ID photo cards but a card or certificate can be obtained by taking the test. Information for the Food Handler’s Card can be found on the Food Service Worker Card – Maricopa County website. There will be a sign-up sheet to volunteer on the information board in the back of the hondo.
Our next meeting is Sunday, January 7, 2018, at 9:00 am
Birthday Sunday for December: Sunday Jan 28th
Birthday cake: The Magnin Family
Chairing in December: Sangha Teens on Jan 21st and Jan 28th
Bodhi Day: Thank you to everyone who donated and volunteered during our Bodhi Day spaghetti lunch. The kids did an amazing job and lunch was delicious.
AZBT Wants YOU!
We are looking for additional volunteers for the Toban schedule. The Temple needs more people to help keep our Hondo and associated facilities clean. Right now the schedule is 7 groups rotating every other week with 3 people in a group. The cycle is about every 2 months.
It takes about 1 hour to vacuum the "Hondo" (Main Hall) area and mop and clean the restrooms and kitchen. We would appreciate any availability anyone has to help keep our Temple clean.
To sign up or for more information, please contact Mine Tominaga at
480-‐838-‐3057 or see her at Sunday services.
Memorial Services for 2018
It is never easy to lose someone we love. Unfortunately, everyone has to go through this event. Even though we grieve for our family member who is dying, as Shin Buddhists we believe that they become awakened to the heart and mind of Amida Buddha and at the time of death they are directed to the Pure Land by the Amida Buddha. There, they join the ranks of the truly settled where they attain Nirvana, the place of eternal bliss and tranquility. (Collected Works of Shinran, pg 153, 1997). They have attained Buddhahood, and it is taught that our loved ones then return to this world to teach and guide us to the Pure Land.
The memorial services are for the living because they are opportunities for us to remember our loved one and to listen to the Buddhist teachings. The memorial should not be considered to be a burden to the family and grudgingly planned. It should be planned from the heart. In this manner, the memorial service can be conducted without ill feelings and the Dharma message can be clearly heard. Memorial services can be planned this year if your loved ones passed away during the years in parentheses listed below:
1st Circuit (2017)
3rd Cycle (2016)25th Cycle (1984)
7th Cycle (2012)33rd Cycle (1976)
13th Year (2006)50th Cycle (1969)
17th Year (2002)100th Cycle (1919)
If you have any questions, please call the temple at 602-278-0036. Thank you.
From the Sangha
by (or rather for) Dave Belcheff
Ugh. I keep remembering that the Vow Mind is nothing less than the determination to transform Mara Himself and every deluded being in his Six Realms of Transmigration into a Buddha.
That means having to be kind and loving to everybody all the time. “Ugh” because the more I remember this, the less of an excuse I have for not being kind and loving to everybody all the time.
STATEMENT FROM BUDDHIST CHURCHES OF AMERICA: BCA Update, 08/23/17
Statement on the Killing in Charlottesville, Virginia
On August 12, 2017 at a white supremacist rally, a neo-Nazi drove a car into the people protesting his ideology. He killed a woman and injured 19 other people. It was very deplorable and sad to see this incident in Charlottesville, Virginia. I would like to express my deepest sympathies and condolences to the victims’ families and friends.
The action that we witnessed was caused by anger and hatred deriving from a sad American historical background. We, as American citizens and residents, are experiencing the heavy karmic effects of our past history. We should be reminded of the American doctrine that all people are equal, as we often hear. We should turn to the core values of each individual’s religion or faith to find the way to live harmoniously.
No matter what path we walk, we know that we should not get angry or hate others. We know that we want to love everyone. And at a time like this, we all ask why this happened and how we can stop this type of human behavior.
We, as Buddhists, come to hear the urging voices coming from our teachers in the midst of this world of suffering -- this world of samsara. The Buddha is standing with us with tears in his eyes, urging all of us to turn to the Infinite Compassion and Wisdom in order to transcend love and hate. Transcending love and hate does not mean that we eliminate our feelings of love and hate. It means that we recognize and understand that these powerful emotions exist within each of us; they are part of our human condition. We seek to encounter people who feel deep sorrow for our human condition and aspire to attain something worthier.
When we are touched and moved by the Vow of the Buddha to save all beings from suffering with Infinite Wisdom and Compassion directed at us to find the True and Real World beyond our foolish thoughts, we begin to live our lives with humility, understanding, and concern for one another.
Ultimately, we are all within the World of Oneness. Let us start with each individual to help create a better community by hearing the Compassionate Call from the World of True Equality.
Namo Amida Butsu,
Rev. Kodo Umezu
Bishop, Buddhist Churches of America
Ignorance and blind passions abound, When reflect on the establishment of the Vow,
Pervading everywhere like innumerable particles of dust. We find that the Tathagata, witout abandoning sentient
Love and hatred arising out of accord and conflict beings in pain and affliction,
Are like high peaks and mountain ridges. Has taken the directing of virtue to them foremost,
(Collected Works of Shinran, p. 400) Thus fulfilling the mind of great compassion. (CWS, p.408)
Buddhism In My Life
By Sara Jay
Since I was 5 years old, I have been attending the Arizona Buddhist Temple on Sunday’s, as well as attending seminars and conferences in Los Angeles in the Bay Area for the Jr. Youth Buddhist Association. Because of my dedication to Buddhism, you may think I completely rule out any other religion. However, my father has taught me the complete opposite. The many teachings I have learned, only sought to teach me that everyone in this world is made up of events that make them different and unique from each other. However, our connections to each other, interdependence, make us a unifying force in the world. Our differences are not meant to make us defy each other. They are meant to contribute to a grander force that will better the world and make a more peaceful place. By following the Eightfold Path, I have been able to see the brighter light and that you make your own path. By doing so, I have pursued a more open lifestyle, accepting the change I see in the world instead of running from it.
One of the most substantial events in my Buddhist life that helped me to become who I am today is my first leadership conference at Nishi Buddhist Temple my freshmen year. It was an event that brought us so much closer to one another in a period of hours. We were in a room with posters around us that read: school, friends, family, economic status, the future, yourself, etc. Then the administrator would say, “go to the side of the room that makes you feel secure.” Because of this, I was able to witness who felt most comfortable at home, and who was most comfortable with their friends. Then they would say, “go to the side of the room that you hide from the world.” This was the point that made me said. I saw people at ever poster. Some were insecure about themselves, others who lacked friends, and some who had troubles at home. This made me see that so many people lead different lives than us. We may know them as our friends from YBA, but that is only one small, minute part of their life. Similar to what we see in everyday society, you really cannot fathom what people are experiencing in their lives, as humans are very skillfull at picking and choosing what they express on the outside.
The teachings I have learned from seminars, conferences, and weekly Dharma service discussions have taught me that each and every individual is different. There are aspects of our lives that intertwine us, but the events, people we have met, and places we visit separate us from being identical. I learned that there are reasons why some one may have said a rude comment, or why someone chooses to be extremely quiet in school. We should not judge them for this, as we most likely express some of these habits ourselves. But if we can learn to identify and express understanding towards one another, then we will only better ourselves and the world as a whole. Overall, Buddhism has taught me that diversity is a beneficial attribute, and we should rejoice in its presence instead of shying away from it.
What Reincarnates: A Clear Explanation
I have received valuable responses to my article, “Buddhist Peace—Before, After, and During This Life”, (Prajna, November, 2016; and the British journal, Pure Land Notes #30, December, 2016). The problem of traditional Buddhist doctrine simultaneously upholding the notion of no-self (anātman) and the contradictory notion of reincarnation has been an object of sustained contemplation for me and a topic of discussion with Dharma friends for years. One Dharma friend directed me to the work of Ian Stevenson. Another Dharma friend claimed that the Buddha simply left us with a mystery regarding the simultaneous assertion of reincarnation and denial of substantial selves. So, with help from my friends and the Larger Sutra, I pressed on, trying to make sense of this “mystery” until, at last, discovering a satisfactory explanation that conforms to Siddhārtha Gautama’s rational methodology and to his great insight into the issue of impermanence: It is relationships—most technically, patterns of relatedness—that reincarnate, not individuals. For humans, especially, patterns of relatedness between our genes (biology), memes (communications culture), and extended phenotypes (material culture) reincarnate. This view takes the Buddha’s assertion of no-self seriously. Also…
• It explains all of the phenomena related to testimonies of reincarnation, including visitations from dead loved ones, without positing survival of individual personhood after death. Think of patterns of relatedness rippling across regions and generations, much like the hundredth monkey effect.
• Relationships exist between the “extremes” of pairs (or groups) of subjectivities. Therefore, relationships accord with the principle of the Middle Path. And, as such, relationships are not accessible to the grasping or calculating mind. Relationships are homeless. Relationships do not dwell exclusively in this or that personality, but visit them all.
• If patterns of relatedness persist, life after life, then the unique personalities involved in a given relationship are merely – and wonderfully, and deliciously – incidental, accidental, finite, mortal, evanescent, special. From the gratuitous aid of a stranger to a loving life-long relationship, the “and” of Martin Buber’s “I and Thou” spontaneously manifests, ever fresh and alive, as the dependent arising of mutually-acknowledging subjectivities.
Furthermore, relatedness (rather than personalities) reincarnating is falsifiable. Our relationships with others—whether alive, dead, or fictional—already reincarnate from instant to instant, so we can empirically test the correctness of this view at any time. It is not persons, but relationships that are reborn each instant. It is patterns of relatedness that account for personalities, and that “return” over and over again in the “return to earth-school until getting it right and graduating from the wheel of samsara” analogy; for example, centuries-old conflicts that still persist today.
This view puts to rest worrying about what happens after we die. Liberated from such ontological anxieties, we are free to focus on peaceful and happy relationships (which is what we really are), rather than obsess about the right-or-wrong, he-said-she-said, rule-bound, tit-for-tat exchanges within relationships—whether generous or mean-spirited. Am I so mighty? No matter how great my self-cherishing, my precious identity, my spiritual ego, my “annoying humanity” (as my wife calls it), I am still going to face the same oblivion as Shelley’s “Ozymandias.” Yes, it is true that everything we think, say, and do matters a great deal, and we are all “responsible for our actions,” as we robotically remind ourselves. But when we misunderstand a self (whether our own or another’s) as an atomistic automaton, rather than a complex assemblage of relationships, we fall into error. When we attack another, we never just attack an individual being, we attack an entire network of relationships. Likewise, when we love another, a wondrous union of relational love flows through us into the midst of another wonderful gathering of relationships, affecting untold revolutions of “peace and happiness” (see Dharmākara’s thirty-third vow).
Ultimately, then, it is our relationships that really matter. Relationships are powerful. Individual identities only seem so. Shin Buddhism has a wonderful term that helps us understand relationships, rather than individuals, as the locus of life-activities, and even of consciousness: “Other Power” (Tariki). Other Power undulates through friendships, studentships, parenting, devotion, pastoral care, diplomacy, charity, etc., and also through our relationships with food, technology, and other non-human beings we encounter in the world.
When understanding patterns of relatedness, and not individual persons, as that which “reincarnates,” the term, Sangha, and Shinran’s notion of Dharma friends (ondobo/ondogyo), come to mean so much more, and the Shin canon can be heard in a much deeper key
1) Amida Buddha selects all helpless, hopeless, foolish, ordinary beings drowning in the karmic ocean of birth and death as the targets of his inconceivable Vow. This means that we have a special connection with all other beings as fellow targets of Amida’s Vow. How, then, could we not naturally aspire to regard all others with the same compassion expressed in Amida’s Vow “to remove the roots of the afflictions of birth and death of all” (Larger Sutra 1:6)?
2) In his “causal stage,” as the bodhisattva, Dharmākara, Amida Buddha learned an eternal practice from his teacher, Lokeśvararāja. This practice is called kuyō (Skt., puja, lit. “worshipping with offerings;” see, e.g., the twenty-fourth vow). Kuyō involves visiting countless Buddha lands, making offerings to them all, and learning relational wisdom from the “good and evil natures of heavenly and human beings living there.” The practice of kuyō emerges spontaneously from the relationship between Lokeśvararāja and Dharmākara, spreading out like rebounding ripples in a pond, expressing itself as the Vow to save all beings, to make each and every one a Buddha. Identified especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth vows, and supported by all forty-eight vows, the relationship Amida has with all beings, the kuyō selected as his eternal practice, manifests in his Name.
From these two relational templates, we develop an awareness of every being we encounter as: 1) a fellow target of Amida’s boundless compassion, and, thereby, 2) a Buddha in the making, or a teacher of relational wisdom. Amida’s Vow-mind, then, models the correct attitude to maintain towards every being, in every moment, in every incarnation.
For further study, see: the third, sixth, and ninth chapters of the Tannishō; and the third, fourth, fifth, and forty-fifth vows of the Larger Sutra, reading the events of past lives as history, and the beautiful, homogenous golden appearance of humans and devas as relational rather than as personal forms of being, i.e., as love.