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, February 18th
09:00 am - Q&A Session
10:00 am - Dharma Service
11:00 am - Dharma School Class
Saturday and Sunday, February 24th & 25th
- No Temple Service -
Come Visit us at the Arizona Matsuri
for more info see:
Sunday, March 4th
09:00 am - Q&A Session
10:00 am - Dharma Service, Children's Day
11:00 am - Dharma School Class
Sunday, March 11th
08:30 am - Meditation Class
10:00 am - Dharma Service, Shotsuki Hoyo, Ohigan
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
It’s February! Valentine’s Day is right around the corner so it’s the season of love, I guess. I think it’s no secret that, in addition to the Buddha Dharma and my family, one of the things I love the most is science-fiction – specifically Star Wars and Star Trek!
I frequently get asked by people, “Which do you love more: Star Wars or Star Trek.” The truth is, I find value in both. I love Star Wars for its cool space battles, light sabers and its mythology. Growing up, I found a lot of wisdom spoken in the words of Jedi Masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda such as “Don’t give in to hate – that leads to the Dark Side” or “Do or do not. There is no try.” As an adult I try to live my life by these words as I think they can hold relevance for all of us.
Star Trek was the future I hoped for as a child. A time and universe where everyone possessed value, and diversity of people, beings and thought was everywhere – or as one “alien” culture, known as the Vulcans, expressed it, “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.”
Both Wars and Trek greatly influenced me as a kid and they continue inspire me as a guy pushing 50. In fact, I actually credit both franchises for leading me to the Buddha Dharma.
After inquiring which I prefer, people will then often ask me if I like what has been done recently with the new movies. Star Trek was “rebooted” a few years ago with a whole new, and younger, cast to replace the aging actors who portrayed Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Lieutenant Uhura, and Mr. Sulu. The movies also became much more fast-paced with lots of special effects in their story-telling.
Although Star Wars hasn’t been rebooted (yet), many of the old familiar characters from my youth have been killed-off (I won’t tell you which ones, so I don’t spoil things for you) which has allowed new stars to rise to continue the saga. And, just like Star Trek the newer Star Wars movies move a lot quicker with all sorts of stuff happening in smaller periods of time. It’s like Hollywood is making movies for people with shorter attention spans.
So, when I get asked, “Do I like what has happened to the movies?” it would be so easy to say “No.” Believe me there are some fans who are super-upset (to put it lightly) with what has been done to both. However, for me, I am reminded that all things must change. This is a natural law and one that the Buddha taught. By evolving, these two wonderful sets of movies may become as enjoyable to a new generation of fans as they originally were during my childhood.
Buddhism is no different. It has changed and evolved over the millennia to meet the conditions of the people, places and times wherever the Buddha Dharma is practiced. Although we are a Jodo Shinshu Temple, our services look very different in the U.S.A. than they do in Japan; and, in both countries elements of our tradition in the 21st Century have evolved greatly since the time of Shinran Shonin – some 800 years ago. This is not a bad thing for it makes the Buddha Dharma relevant for more people.
So, during this month I encourage all of you to reflect on the things that you love the most and realize that they, too, will change. It will make the very precious current moments so much more beautiful. And, perhaps when things change you will be able to realize that it will eventually be okay after all.
Live long and prosper,
May the Force be with you,
and Namo Amida Butsu!
Megan Tang - February 2018
I would like to thank everyone who attended our General Meeting in January. We were successful in updating the Temple by laws and set some goals for 2018 which include membership growth and retention, outreach, updating our temple website, expanding our social media presence and advertisement, and temple activities. We will be setting up a 2018 Goal Box in the back of the hondo which will be a place for sangha members to give their ideas/comments/suggestions on how we can achieve our goals this year. We appreciate and welcome ideas that all of you have to help us continue to sustain and grow the temple.
We will be having a Valentine’s Day party/potluck on Sunday, February 11th after Temple service. Please come and join us if you can and bring your favorite dish to share!
This year’s Matsuri will be held on Saturday, February 24th- Sunday, February 25th in downtown Phoenix at Heritage Square Park. The temple will have its food booth running at the event. We will be selling yakisoba dogs, yakisoba, nikuman, manju, etc. This is our biggest fundraiser each year for the temple. We appreciate people donating their time to come and help work at the booth. There is a sign up sheet at the temple for shifts on both Saturday and Sunday. You can also notify the temple via email or contact Betsy Matsumoto. We are looking for morning, afternoon, and evening shifts. Please also make sure to get or renew your food handler’s card.
At the general meeting, we announced that the Arizona Buddhist Temple will be co-hosting along with Southern District for the 2019 BCA National Council Meeting. The meeting will be held in downtown Phoenix March 5-10, 2019. Please put these dates on your calendar for next year. Arizona will be in charge of hospitality and we will also need volunteers to help with various portions of the conference. More details will be provided in the upcoming several months.
Arizona Buddhist Temple Women's Club
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.
If you would like to help but do not have a Food Handler’s card, we ask that you take the test. Maricopa County is no longer issuing the Food Service Worker Photo ID cards but a card or certificate can be obtained by taking a test with an ANSI-accredited food handler training program. A list of the accredited programs can be found on www.ansica.org. More information can be found on the Food Service Worker Card – Maricopa County website.
Suggested sites for obtaining Food Handler's Card:
For those who will be helping with the Matsuri food preparations at the Temple and helping in the food booth at the Heritage and Science Center in downtown Phoenix, please wear a hat; and, if you have long hair, wear it in a ponytail. For those who do not bring a hat, we will have hair bonnets. We want to thank in advance to everyone who plans to help.
New hours for the ABT Thrift Store are Saturdays, 10:00am – 5:00pm, and Sundays, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Please verify that the store is open as it might be closed because of Temple events or activities. The store will be closed Saturday and Sunday, February 24 and 25 for Matsuri. If you would like to help at the thrift store, please let us know. We are always looking for volunteers.
The next meeting is Sunday, March 18th, 2018, at 9:00 am
Birthday Sunday for February: Sunday Feb 18th
Birthday cake: The Matsumoto Family
Chairing in February: 6th Grade Class
Matsuri Weekend: Matsuri Weekend is fast approaching. Please see Betsy if you would like to volunteer. Also, there is a sign-up sheet in the back of the Hondo. Volunteers are greatly needed and appreciated. =D
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.
New Year's Greeting from Lord Abbot
(Gomonshu) Kojun Ohtani
At the beginning of the New Year, I would like to extend my warmest greetings to you!
From October 1, 2016 until this past May 31st, the Commemoration of the Accession of the Jodo Shinshu Tradition was conducted at Honganji in Kyoto, Japan with attendance of about 150,000 people from thoughout Japan and our overseas sanghas. Since the days of our founder, Shinran Shonin, for nearly 800 years, the Jodo Shinshu teaching has been cherished and carefully handed down to us today by our predecessors. Reflecting on this, I am truly grateful to have been able to recite the Nembutsu together with many of you who took part in the services whether it be in person or through the internet.
Being enabled to hear the working of Amida Buddha’s voice calling to us, we become aware of our true self, in which we have the difficulty of accepting things just as they are, and being caught up in our selfish mindset. That is why it becomes all the more important that we continue to listen to the teachings of Amida. As we appreciate the Buddha’s great wisdom and compassion, we are naturally guided to care for and aspire to live together with one another.
In this New Year, let us continue to listen to the teachings while following the Nembutsu Path together with everyone.
January 1, 2018
Monshu, Jodo Shinshu Honganji-Ha
Hey Suns Fans:
There is an opportunity to see a Phoenix Suns game on April 6th, Friday at 7:00 pm at the Talking Stick Resort Arena. It will be Suns versus the New Orleans Pelicans. There are tickets for seating at the upper level for $20 dollars and $40 dollars for seating at the lower level of the arena.
If you are interested in going, please call Rev. Lynn Sugiyama at 602-366-0590 for more information. Thank you!
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.