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.
We are now accepting donations online
Your generosity is greatly appreciated
Dharma in the Desert
Introducing our video Dharma Talks.
Even in times of great suffering there is always a path to enlightenment
Arizona Shotsuki Hoyo service for September by Lynn Sugiyama, and then a special Dharma Talk by Rev. Gregory Gibbs from our friends at the Pasadena Buddhist Temple
Obon Service June 14th 2020
This is a series of online Dharma messages from the Arizona Buddhist Temple.
Rev. Nagata is the host of Obon Service this week of June 14th, 2020
We plan to post new Dharma talks every week, so stay tuned.
Sunday, September 13th
Dharma in the Desert
Video Dharma Shotsuki Hoyo Service
11:00 AM - Dharma School Online Class
Sunday, September 20th
Dharma in the Desert
Video Dharma Service Ohigan
11:00 AM - Dharma School Online Class
Sunday, September 27th
Dharma in the Desert
Video Dharma Service
11:00 AM - Dharma School Online Class
Sunday, September 4th
Dharma in the Desert
Video Dharma Service
11:00 AM - Dharma School Online Class
Sunday, September 11th
Dharma in the Desert
Video Dharma Service
11:00 AM - Dharma School Online Class
Additional Activities will resume at some point, schedule will continue to be updated.
Stay safe, wash your hands, relax, and try to work on that enlightenment thing you have been meaning to get to. Its always a good time to practice the Dharma.
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
Please join us for some quiet sitting, chanting, and guided meditation. Most sessions last from 10 to 20 minutes. Sit in one of our comfortable chairs, borrow one of our zafus or bring your own!
-see above schedule for meeting times-
Ungyo Lynn Sugiyama
Hello Everyone! I hope everyone is safe and healthy during this very unusual and precarious time. As you know, the Arizona Buddhist Temple has not officially opened due to the coronavirus. However, we continue to spread the Buddhist teachings through the Arizona Buddhist Temple Facebook webpage, the Temple webpage, and the YouTube Channel “Dharma in the Desert.” Other temples like Orange County, Denver Buddhist Temple, or Oregon Buddhist Temple offer Dharma messages online also. I encourage you to look at various Shin Buddhism webpages and the Buddhist Churches of America webpage.
On August 9th, the Arizona Buddhist Temple held a teleconference seminar with Prof. Duncan Ryuken Williams. It was a very interesting lecture. He is the professor of religious studies with a focus on Japanese religions at the University of Southern California. He is also an ordained Zen priest. He has written articles on Buddhism and books like the American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2019). The book was about how Japanese American Buddhist followers and priests were affected by World War II and how they persevered through their experiences. Prof. Williams focused some of his lecture on this book.
Prof. Williams talked about the Buddhist Master Dogen (1200-1253 CE) who was an ordained priest in Tendai Buddhism in Kyoto, Japan. Shinran Shonin was a little older than Dogen but they studied at the same Tendai temples in Mount Hiei, near Kyoto, Japan. Last year, a group from our temple toured Japan, and one day we hiked to the temples of Mount Hiei. At one of the temples, it contained several statues of the great priests who studied at Mount Hiei and you will see the statues of Master Dogen, Shinran Shonin and his teacher Master Honen.
Like Shinran Shonin, Master Dogen became spiritually dissatisfied with what he learned and practiced. Eventually, Dogen became the founder of the Soto Zen school of Buddhism. One of his famous quotes is, “To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by the myriad things…”
This quote is similar to what is taught in Shin Buddhism. We say that Buddhism is a religion of awareness. This means that we should be aware of how we interact and relate to others and how others relate to us. Buddhism teaches that we live a life of interdependence. We rely on many people to live this one life we possess. Many people like our parents, friends, and teachers have shaped us to who we are today. Many events in our life shape us also. When we realize all the myriad of things and people we encounter in life, we are grateful to how these events and people shaped our lives. We cannot selfishly think only about ourselves. We may depend on family and friends but there are people who depend on us also. For me, I cannot live my life without my family, friends and the people whom I work together.
This may sound crazy, but I could say I am also grateful to the coronavirus also. Because coronavirus happened, I use less gas to go places because I stay and work at home. I saved money because I ate at home instead of going to a restaurant. My family stayed at home in the evenings and sometimes I played Scrabble with my wife and daughter, we talked and laughed and we feel closer to one another. I am grateful that no one among my family and friends have become ill from the coronavirus. Because I stayed at home, I was able complete a lot of the writing for my thesis in order to complete my Masters in Buddhist Studies. I am grateful for all these experiences that have happened because it made me realize how unique these moments are to me.
Prof. Duncan Williams also talked about the injustices that hurt people. Events like the World War II Japanese American internment camps affected my mother and her family. Current events like immigration and the border wall have caused controversy because it has negatively affected people and caused mistrust. We all live in one world, but we selfishly think we are better and smarter that everyone else. Buddhism teaches me that I am just a small part in the large picture of life. When you look at your own life, you will find that many people and experiences have shaped you too. We should think deeply and be grateful that we have this one life and that in spite of our shortcomings, we are loved and supported by family and friends.
Let us continue to learn the Buddhist teachings together. We will get through this chaotic year and be stronger because of it. When we say Namo Amida Butsu, we are calling upon Amida Buddha who vowed that we all enter the Pure Land in spite of all the bad and good things we have done in life. To be aware of this vow, we should be grateful that we have encountered this teaching. We realize that we can live this life fully and we can share our love and respect to all living beings. This is Amida Buddha’s wish for learn about the self and the myriads experiences we encounter.
Thank you for reading.
Namo Amida Butsu.
Kris Nakashima - September 2020
I hope you have all been staying cool, happy, and healthy during what may be one of the hottest Arizona summers on record. Our temple continues to offer our services via online video using Facebook, YouTube, and website.
I want to thank our temple maintenance team, who continue to brave the scorching heat to ensure the health of our landscaping. It is our hope that when we do finally return to in-person services, the temple ground will look much like they did before.
We would like to send our condolences to the family of Joyce Matsumoto Tominaga whom quietly passed away in Tucson July 2, 2020. She leaves behind Her husband Wayne, and their kids, Aki, Derek, Richard, and grandkids Hobie and Reese. We would also like to send our condolences to the Kawamura, Inoshita, and Tominaga families for the passing of Ben Kawamura. Service information is pending.
As we begin the Fall Season at the Arizona Buddhist Temple, we are preparing to bring back many of our community programs in a remote form to maintain social distance, utilizing the ever-popular Zoom. Things like Meditation class, Book Club/Adult Discussion Groups, and of course Dharma School will soon be making a comeback online. We are also looking to add a Film Club hosted by Sensei Mike to the line-up as well. More details on meeting times and how to register and log in will be soon to follow.
As of the past few weeks we are now able to accept Donations online through our website at AZBuddhistTemple.org. We accept all major credit cards, which these days are more secure then paper checks. You can also update your yearly memberships as well. Your generosity is as always, greatly appreciated, especially during these difficult times. Stay safe, stay cool, and stay classy.
Arizona Buddhist Temple Women's Club
We would like to thank everyone for their continued support to the temple and temple organizations and hope everyone is well and safe during these hot summer months.
The women’s club is selling cloth face masks as a fundraiser for the temple. Thank you to Diane Inoshita, Emi Brock, Teri Ishimatsu and Mine Tominaga for sewing and donating the face masks. If you would like to see them and possible buy some, please contact Betsy Matsumoto.
The thrift store remains closed until further notice. If possible, please keep any donations until we can open the store (or you can donate directly using the link at the top of the page). We look forward to seeing everyone after the restrictions are lifted and able to open the store and attend temple services.
KIDS KORNER - DHARMA SCHOOL
Classes Resume September 13th 11:00 Am on-line
We will be holding Dharma School classes this year online. We will send a zoom link to every Dharma school student to join our class. We will have class all together every Sunday at 11:00am and then break up into smaller groups for activities after the lesson.
Welcome back everyone! I hope you had a wonderful summer. This year to ensure the safety of everyone we are going to begin Dharma School classes online. Though we can’t see each other in person it doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun together. We are going to still have Dharmas school classes, a modified Halloween party, movie nights and open zoom calls. For the parents we are going to also have open zoom calls, and a book club. We have many ways we can stay connected with one another. We will see each other soon, but in the meantime, please stay safe. Remember you are part of a Sangha no matter where you are.
Love your Dharma School Teachers
Our Temple Maintenance Crew worked hard to trim our evergreen tree at the Temple. Thank you for your hard work to take care of our temple grounds! Pictured are Katsuji Uchiike, Mino Inoshita, Sumiko Tokudome and Nancie Haranaka. We would also like to thank Hiroo Tokudome and Fran Johnston on the AZBT Garden Team
Our Maintenance crew welcomes anyone who would like to join! The schedule is variable, however the group meets 2-4 times a month depending on the weather and needs of the trees. Please see Fran Johnston if you’re interested!
PURIFYING HEART AND MIND
Thank you for volunteering the time and effort to keep our Hondo and Temple clean. At this time due to Temple closures, Toban will also be cancelled for the time being. A new Toban schedule will be available once the Temple has re-opened.
If you are interested in joining our Toban teams, please contact Mine Tominaga at 602-300-9621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buddhist Churches of America:
Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter and in Opposition to Racism
Today we find ourselves in a time of deep unrest and pain. There is no justification for the killing of George Floyd, of Ahmaud Arbery, of Breonna Taylor. These and other countless racially motivated misuses of force against Black people are a travesty that must not continue. The pain and anguish of the Black community is resounding throughout the United States and the world, and is touching the hearts of many more people, including our own ministers and members.
Amida Buddha is said to have the “Wisdom of Non-Discrimination.” This is manifested in the Great Compassion that embraces ALL beings. Amida Buddha does not reject anyone based on age, gender, class, race, or any other basis. Although it is difficult for us as unenlightened beings to manifest this Wisdom of Non-Discrimination, this radical equality is an ideal in our tradition.
Although it is difficult for us as foolish beings to manifest the all-embracing Great Compassion, this kindness and caring is our model to strive for. However, this equality will never be reached until Black Lives Matter.
Buddhists are not immune from racism. The insidious influence of racism is learned from many sources, usually unconsciously. It is important for us as Jodo Shinshu Buddhists to engage in self-reflection, and to be open to finding this racism within ourselves, as well as within our temples.
Announcements for May
Online Dharma Services and Dharma Talks
Lynn Sensei, Vonn Sensei, and Michael Sensei continue to post weekly Dharma talks and services online on our Temple Facebook and our Temple Website. Please join us online for listening to the Dharma!
Temple Website: https://www.azbuddhisttemple.org/
Temple Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/azbuddhisttemple/
At this time, the Temple will be closed for the remainder of the Dharma School Year (through the beginning of July 2020). We will continue the current Temple schedule of services via Online methods during this time.
Memorial Weekend Services
This year, we will NOT be holding our regular schedule of Memorial Weekend Cemetery Service gatherings with the Sangha. Instead, we will be posting an Online Memorial Service Dedication for Sangha Members to view online. The Online Memorial Dedication Services are planned to represent the following cemetery services: Veteran’s Memorial, Glendale Resthaven, Greenwood Mortuary, South Mountain Resthaven, and Mesa Cemetery.
Our Obon Service will be posted online this year for our Sangha on Sunday, June 14th, 2020. At this time, the Obon Odori and Dinner Festivities have been cancelled for Saturday, June 13th, 2020 and will be rescheduled for a date in the fall (to be determined at a later time).
2020 Temple Graduates
The Temple is currently putting together a list of graduates for Jr. High, High School, and College. Please email the temple at email@example.com with any graduates you have in your family so that we can have a full list of graduates to recognize this year!
2020 Temple Scholarship Applicants
The Temple will again be offering Scholarships this year to those who are in the High School Graduating Class of 2020. In order to be eligible, the Applicant must be either Graduating from High School or Equivalent and Continuing with Post Secondary Education. Also, the Applicant or Applicant’s Parent must be a member of one of the following: Member of the Arizona Buddhist Temple, Member of Arizona Jr. YBA, Member of Arizona Senior YBA, Member of any other Affiliated Organization of the Arizona Buddhist Temple. To request an application, please email the temple at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Lynn Sensei, Vonn Sensei, Michael Sensei, Kris Nakashima or Megan Tang. Applications are due back to the Temple by SUNDAY, MAY 31ST, 2020 in order to be considered for an award.
For any Religious needs, please continue to reach out to the Temple by phone (602) 278-0036 or by email at email@example.com. Our Ministers Assistants are available to help and support our Sangha members!
Prajna Email Notices
The Arizona Buddhist Temple continues to work on efforts to go green and minimize environmental waste. If you are receiving the Prajna via paper mail and would like to switch to Email, please notify the Temple at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your Email address to be used. Thank you for helping us to help the environment!
To learn more please check out the following links:
The Importance of Sangha
A few weeks ago I was part of a group that travelled to San Fernando in the LA area for the Southern District JRYBL Seminar 1 event. The six paramitas were the focus of the workshops and discussions, and during the closing message Rev. Usuki introduced us to an activity that would demonstrate all six. I was fortunate enough to participate in the game, which was similar to musical chairs, except everyone needed a seat when the music stopped and chairs were removed. To us, the activity was a challenge we needed to overcome; to the rest of the Sangha, it was entertainment as they watched and laughed at our struggles and victories. At one point I tried to give someone a piggyback ride, thinking it would simplify matters a bit. At the last stage of the game, with one chair left for the 14 of us, I figured one less pair of legs to worry about should make it easier, right? Wrong, as we found out when I tried to balance on someone’s knee and we both came crashing to the ground.
On the surface, this activity was a 15 minute period of watching 14 teenagers trip over each other and attempt to sit on chairs in creative ways. But on a deeper level, it allowed the group of us to work together and rely on each other. We practiced Dana, the generosity of our peers to help each other; Sila, the moral discipline to pick each other up and provide encouragement after we fell; Ksanti, the patience when we had to adapt; Virya, the effort we put into problem solving; Dhyana, the mental fortitude to continue and persevere; and Prajna, our mindset throughout the process and belief in ourselves. We trusted that if we were about to fall, one of our friends would catch us and hold up our legs or arms to fulfill the objective.
This idea also forms one of the basic principles of Buddhism. We as human beings cannot walk the path to enlightenment by ourselves. Sure, we can try our best to and strive to follow the teachings Sakyamuni preached, but if we do so alone, we have already failed. At some point along the journey, we are forced to lean on other people, whether it be something minor like a ride to school or something more significant, such as the emotional support from family or a close friend after the loss of a loved one. Everywhere we look, throughout our lives, others have been there for us. Parents, siblings, teachers, friends, coaches, even strangers have impacted our lives. A kind word when we are having a bad day, a voice of motivation when we’re feeling defeated, a consistent reminder of what we’re trying to accomplish in this life as well as the support and assistance to do so.
Every Sunday we sing the phrase ‘I go to the Dharma for guidance’. The Dharma contains teachings such as the Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths, and the Six Paramitas. These ideas provide a roadmap for us to follow in our lives. However on a much more physical and realistic level, we turn to the people around us for guidance, we go not only to the Buddha and the Dharma but also to the Sangha. The Buddha teaches us the Dharma, but without the Sangha we have no one to ask questions to when we are confused or struggling with our lives, no one to lean on when we can’t hold ourselves up, no one to walk the path with us. We would be alone in our suffering. We would have the Buddha and the Dharma to look to, but at a much more primal level, we need others. We need others to care for us, to nurture us, to keep us disciplined, to push us forward toward our goals and aspirations. We need others to help us solve problems, and to help us sit on a chair currently occupied by 12 other people. The Three Treasures of the Truth are a vital part of Buddhism, and the next time we sing Vandana and Ti-Sarana, find new meaning in the words ‘I go to the Sangha for guidance’.
Pet Hoji Service - formerly March 29th
CANCELLED for Now
The Arizona Buddhist Temple will be holding our 4th annual Pet Hoji Service. This service will be held in memory of the deceased pets of the Arizona Buddhist Temple members. If you have a specific pet you would like to have commemorated, please submit their name and a picture (optional) to Lynn Sugiyama, Vonn Magnin, Michael Tang, or email the Temple at email@example.com
The Pet Hoji Service has been Cancelled at this time.
The Jr. YBL at Conference 2019. Ehsa Murray designed the poster and won first place. Way to go Ehsa!
Aaron was in the Chigo Parade when the Gomonshu came to L.A.
First Row (l to r): Naomi Mayer, Sean Belcheff, Aaron Murray.
Second Row (l to r): Fran Johnston, Kimiyo Oka Duda, Mia Duda,
Lauren Kawashima, Kendall Kawashima, Joshua Tominaga, Cole Siegrist,
Kenji Matsumoto, Zack Siegrist, Nicholas Murray, and Joe Murray.
THE KIESHIKI AFFIRMATION CEREMONY
A group of 45 people went on a trip to Japan from June 20th to July 1st. It was a wonderful trip and everyone learned so much and enjoyed the many places we visited. This included a trip to Hompa Hongan-Ji, the mother temple of our tradition Shin Buddhism. During our visit to Hompa Hongan-Ji, 14 people (9 Jr. YBA Members, 2 children, and 3 adults) took part of the affirmation ceremony, called Kieshiki, to receive their Buddhist Names.
In this ceremony, an official from Hongwanji performed the ceremony before the altar of the Amida Buddha. All the participants took the important step of affirming their reverence for the Buddha (Sakyamuni), Dharma (the Buddhist Teachings), and Sangha (the Buddhist Community), and their determination to follow the path to Buddhahood. This path is of great value to all followers because they are entrusting themselves to Sakyamuni Buddha’s teaching. For this reason, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are called the Three Treasures.
As part of the ceremony, the officiant touches the head of each participant with a scroll inscribed with the words of the Buddha. This is referred to as Chokyo, or receiving the teachings. The affirmation ceremony in Shin Buddhism has deep meaning because the participants are declaring their entrusting heart and mind to the Buddhist teachings.
By participating in the affirmation ceremony, one receives a Buddhist name, or Homyo. The name begins with the kanji, Chinese character, for Shaku or “disciple of Buddha,” then followed with two kanji characters of Buddhist meaning. To be the disciple of Buddha signifies that the person has joined the followers of the teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha, a community that transcends race or nationality. As Shin Buddhists, the participants endeavor to hear the teaching of Amida’s Primal Vow, and teach it to others who want to learn.
We congratulate the recipients who received their Buddhist Name.
This year’s scholarship recipient winner was Emiko Jay. She has received the Chuck Matsumoto Memorial Scholarship. We would like to share her essay below. Congratulations Emi!
Q: What is an example of a time when you had a hardship that you overcame by the Jodo Shinshu and Buddhism teachings?
My life has often felt as if I am landing in an airplane feeling the jolt of the brakes pushing me--and the plane-- back, preventing me from stopping. I need to hold on long enough to push through the pressure and then everything will run smoothly. Finally, I can walk through those plane doors to a new day.
Growing up in a predominantly white area I have always viewed myself as not “White” enough. At age two I was adopted from China; and by having no connection to my Chinese roots, I never felt “Chinese” enough. However, the small Asian community I am connected to comes from temple. Because most members of the temple are Japanese, it has resulted in me never feeling “Japanese” enough either. It didn’t seem like I had a solid place to feel accepted and at peace with who I was. Consequently, I have always felt as if I would never be good enough for anything. This mindset was the catalyst for the constant cycle of trying to prove my worthiness to everyone.
In my junior year of high school I moved across the country from Arizona to Connecticut. I was no longer competing against my life long friends and acquaintances anymore. Instead, they were complete strangers. The scrutiny of my new peers was at its peak; and with the addition of sitting alone in class everyday, I felt like an alien. I thought of how much easier it’d be to make friends if I was more White. If maybe I could have blue eyes. The snarky seniors in my math class whispering I would get an A, “because I was Asian.” All of this contributed to the shame I felt in being me.
I used to find escape from these feelings at temple surrounded by the teachings of the Buddha, but once I moved away, I felt as if I fell off the Eightfold path and was lost. Though I would feel more similar to everyone around me, the color of our skin didn’t mean cohesion. I know a variety of Japanese traditions and all about their history, but nothing about my Chinese roots. I’d sit and think, “If only I could be Japanese” during meditation, unable to clear my mind. Why couldn’t I be Japanese or White like everyone else? I felt isolated with no one to talk to, no place to fit in. That is until I became more heavily involved with the Jr.YBA, where I had the opportunity to meet more people like me, who were adopted into a Japanese lifestyle; we’d relate on feeling out of place and I finally felt understood and no longer alone.
Jr.YBA led me to the friends who would unconditionally stick by my side. When I’d fly to see them, it was refreshing to be able to open up about my feelings. Opening up for the first time, led me to accept my differences rather than be ashamed of them. The teachings of the Buddha that we would discuss and learn more about at the events, along with the camaraderie of everyone is where I learned that concept and importance of interdependence. Our similarities and differences are what allow us to grow closer and bring people together as a whole.
At a very young age we learn about The Golden Chain of Love. I will have it memorized in my mind forever. When I think back to learning it, I used to perceive it as just a children’s lesson that would not apply when I was an adult. For example, this line has shown much significance to my troubles as a teenager:
“... knowing what I know now, not only affects my happiness or unhappiness but also that of others...”
I have learned that it is not all about myself, that it is also about everyone that surrounds me; it is chain made up of a numerous people, all trying to attain the unanimous goal of being their best self. We are all connected in this chain of love, togetherness and unity, interdependence. Without everyone else’s group effort, there would be no chain. Each member of Jr.YBA is a part of this chain, including me. I am a part of something much bigger than myself, contributing to better myself and the world around me. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and let go of your ego and selfishness. I finally realized not everything is about me, everyone else has their own insecurities too and are suffering in their own ways. I decided to stop dwelling on how my differences hurt me and ‘what could be’ to what it is and bettering myself.
With that push forward I began joining more clubs to put myself out there. I stopped focusing on what people think of me because of what I look like, but how they’d think of me based on who I was. A year of my life wasted, being isolated with no one in class to talk to. What I needed to figure out earlier was that it doesn’t hurt to try; the worst that could happen is they don’t like you. In certain classes I wasn’t scared to talk in front of the class and participate anymore; I needed to stop caring and set myself free.
I learned you can’t do everything alone, and that’s okay. Life begins with ignorance, uncertainty, and it definitely has its fair share of difficulties, but it will always find a way to make sure you do walk through those plane doors to a new day. Without the acceptance and love I found through the teachings of the Buddha I don’t know where I would be; I am so thankful to be apart of such a supportive and caring community.
Dharma School Kid of the Month
Our Dharma School Kid of the Month is Sean Belcheff! Sean made a wonderful picture about family! Great job Sean!
Japanese American Citizens League, Arizona Chapter
Announces Flower Growers Memorial on Baseline Road
PHOENIX, AZ— On October 20, 2019, the Japanese American Citizens League, Arizona Chapter (JACL-AZ) in collaboration with the Circle K Corporation and the City of Phoenix, will unveil a memorial to the Japanese American farmers who grew flowers on Baseline Road for over 50 years. The memorial will be located at the northwest corner of 40th Street and Baseline Road and will include photographs of the fields and a short history of the Japanese American families who lived and farmed along Baseline Road.
Funded and installed through a donation from the Circle K Corporation, the memorial was conceived and included during the master plan redesign of the Baseline area. Historian Pamela Rector and former JACL-AZ president Ted Namba worked with the City of Phoenix and Circle K to ensure that the vision of the memorial was fulfilled.
The unveiling will take place on October 20, 2019 at 10 am at the northwest corner of 40th Street and Baseline Road and will be followed by a reception at Baseline Flower Growers, 3801 E. Baseline Road, Phoenix 85042.
Contact: Kathy Nakagawa, Board Member, Japanese American Citizens League-AZ Chapter, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: (602) 373-7322
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.
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.