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 3rd

09:00 am - Q&A Session

 10:00 am - Dharma Service

11:00 am - Dharma School Class


Sunday, December 10th

08:30 am - Meditation Class

 10:00 am - Dharma Service, Shotsuki Hoyo

11:00 am - Chuck Matsumoto Tree Dedication

11:30 am - Bodhi Day Lunch


Sunday, December 17th


No Temple Service


Sunday, December 24th

Christmas Eve

No Temple Service



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




Dharma in the Desert


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.


Hosted by:

Rev. Lynn Sugiyama

Sensei Vonn Magnin

Sensei Mike Tang




Dharma Message

Rev. Gregory Gibbs - December 2017



   In December we celebrate Bodhi Day, the Enlightenment of the Buddha, New Year’s Eve, and, almost inevitably, we participate in some Christmas celebration.  I am a “Happy Holidays” person but I don’t tell those who wish me a Merry Christmas, “I don’t celebrate that holiday.”  I was pleased, however, that we have not had a Christmas tree in our home in recent years.  If you have one, it’s all right.  Putting an evergreen bough or tree in our residence is a pre-Christian, very ancient way to commemorate the changing of the seasons.   


   In January a new year will arise.  Will it be the same old me, a you which is  identical to how you think and feel just now, who welcomes that New Year?  We notice the changes all around us, but often assume that we are always just the same.  It would be nice if it were a new and improved me who welcomes 2018.  I cannot guarantee that it will be a better me, but it will be a new me.


   By the turn of the year, probably 10% of the cells in my body will be new since 1-1-17.  But a few new cells don’t add up to a new self.  It turns out that, despite a wide-spread belief that all our cells change every 7 -10 years, in reality some of our neurons do not die until we do; … until the body dies altogether.  It is unfortunate that that urban myth is false, but it doesn’t really change the fact that we can and do change.


   If all of my cells did change every 12 months and I held the same opinions, actualized the same values, read the same sorts of books, “I” would still be substantially unchanged.  Perhaps a new version of myself will welcome the New Year.  Spiritually, psychologically, people can change for the better.  If we plant our hearts and minds in the Buddha’s Primal Vow of Universal Liberation [Hon Gan], we may find that a new version of our selves is arising and that the world looks a bit different: less threatening, more nurturing, more beautiful. 


   I hope that all of you enjoy extra time with your families and friends in December. I hope that you and I may see in a New Year that is truly new and refreshed.  I hope that we each wake, each day, feeling new and refreshed. 





President's Message


Megan Tang - December 2017

Dear Sangha,

  Winter is here. I would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season. December is a busy month. Please join us on Sunday, December 10 for our Shotsuki and Bodhi Day services. The Jr. YBA and Sangha Teens will be hosting and cooking a traditional Buddhist meal: spaghetti lunch. Donations are appreciated to support our Jr. YBA and Sangha Teens! On December 10 we will also be having the Chuck Matsumoto Tree Dedication. The Women’s Club has purchased a tree that was planted in the front of the Temple in honor of Chuck Matsumoto.

  Sunday, December 17 is our annual Mochitsuki! Please come out to help make delicious mochi! We will be starting the first batch at 8 am. We will be washing the rice on Friday, December 15 and making the an balls on Saturday, December 16 Please come and help if you are available. The Women’s Club will be treating everyone to lunch on Mochitsuki day as a Thank You for supporting the ABT Thrift Store. Please bring your favorite dessert to share!

  We would like to announce that we have received a generous anonymous donation to the Temple. The board along with the family has decided to put this into a perpetual account for future, long term temple use. The Temple is very grateful for the dana this family has offered.

  Please also come and join us for our New Year’s Eve (Joya-E) and New Year’s Day (Shusho-E) services! We will be ringing the Temple bell after our Joya-E service, so please come and be a part of the festivities! As we start the end of the 2017 year, please remember to make a year-end donation to our Temple. Your donations help our Temple in paying for the Pasadena Buddhist Church supervision fees, operating expenses, and keeping Dharma School and Services going.

  The board will be mailing out voting ballots for the 2018 Temple Board Members. Please keep an eye out for these voting ballots in the mail and please make sure to cast your vote! We will also be sending out notices soon for the January General Meeting which will be held towards the end of January, official date TBD.


In Gassho, Megan Tang


Arizona Buddhist Temple Women's Club


Betsy Matsumoto




  The AZ BWA purchased a crape myrtle tree and memorial plaque in honor of Chuck Matsumoto. The tree is planted in the garden, front of the temple.  A Tree Dedication Service will be held on Sunday, December 10th.  


  It’s getting close to the end of the year and time to make mochi.  Those who are able to help, we will be washing the mochigome on Friday, December 15th at 9:00 am and we will be making the an balls on Saturday, December 16th starting at 9:00 am and we plan to be done by noon.


  Mochitsuki will be on Sunday, December 17th with the first batch of mochi to start at 8:00 am.  Sunday is an all-day event, so we encourage everyone to come out and help.  As a “Thank You” for supporting the ABT Thrift Store, the women’s club will be furnishing lunch.  Please bring your favorite dessert to share with all the workers.  Deadline to order mochi is Saturday, December 10 see "Order Form".   The thrift store will be closed for Mochitsuki.


The ABT Thrift Store has been very busy.  Please visit us.  Store hours are Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Please verify that the store is open as it might be closed because of Temple events or activities. The thrift store will be closed on Sunday, December 17 for Mochitsuki.  We are always looking for volunteers to help at the thrift store.




Our next meeting is Sunday, January 7, 2018, at 9:00 am 


Kids Korner


Birthday Sunday for December: Sunday December 10th


Birthday cake: The Frausto Family


Chairing in December: Jr. YBA


Parent Club Meeting: We will tentatively have a Parent Club meeting after service on December 3rd in the classroom. More information will follow.


Bodhi Day: Bodhi Day is coming up on December 10th. Bodhi Day is the day that Buddha attained Enlightenment. The kids will be making their annual spaghetti lunch. So please stay after service for this delicious meal and wonderful friends.    



-Volunteer Today-


Dear Sangha, 


  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. 


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 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 


David Belcheff 


    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.  




4142 W Clarendon Avenue

Phoenix, AZ 85019

Phone: (602) 278-0036

Fax: (623) 738-3927