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, January 5th

8:30 am - Morning Meditation

9:00 am - Q&A Session

10:00 am - Dharma Service

Birthday Sunday

Open to Public


Sunday, January 12th

8:30 am - Morning Meditation

9:00 am - Women's Club Meeting

10:00 am - Dharma Service

Shotsuki Hoyo

11:00 am - Dharma School Class

Open to Public


Sunday, January 19th

8:30 am - Morning Meditation

9:00 am - Q&A Session

10:00 am - Dharma Service, Ho-Onko Service

11:00 am - Dharma School Class

Open to Public


Sunday, January 26th

8:30 am - Morning Meditation

10:00 am - Dharma Service

Open to Public

11:00 am - Annual General Meeting

Open to Temple Membership only


Sunday, February 2nd

8:30 am - Morning Meditation

9:00 am - Q&A Session

10:00 am - Dharma Service

11:00 am - Dharma School Class

Open to Public


Sunday, February 9th

8:30 am - Morning Meditation

9:00 am - Women's Club Meeting

10:00 am - Dharma Service

Shotsuki Hoyo, Nirvana Day

11:00 am - Dharma School Class

Open to Public



Morning Meditation

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-


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


 Ungyo Lynn Sugiyama


Happy New Year!


         Hello!   On behalf of Michael Sensei, Vonn Sensei, and I, we wish everyone a Great 2020 New Year!   Thank you for your support of the Arizona Buddhist Temple!  This Temple cannot exist without support from you, the membership.    


  This past summer, I was fortunate to be part of a group of 45 people who went to Japan.   It was a wonderful trip!   For several nights we stayed in Kyoto, Japan.  We visited the Hongwanji Temple which is the Mother Temple of our tradition of Shin Buddhism.  For three days, the group got up early in the morning and we went to service at the Hongwanji Temple which started at 6:00am.   At each service we chanted San Butsu Ge and the Shoshinge.   


  In the story of the San Butsu Ge, it states that before the Amida Buddha became the Buddha, he was called Bodhisattva Dharmakara.  The Bodhisattva is being close to becoming enlightened, but he wants to help other beings attain Buddhahood before he finally reaches perfect enlightenment.  The Bodhisattva shares the Buddhist teachings and acts altruistically towards all beings.   Bodhisattva Dharmakara had a teacher whose name is Buddha Lokesvraraja.  We are reminded that even the Amida Buddha was a student before he became the enlightened one.     


  When the group first arrived in Japan, our first stop was in Gifu Prefecture.   We visited the Shosonji Temple where my father was born.   My cousin who is the head minister of the temple gave us a Dharma Talk about the first line of the sutra, San Butsu Ge.   The chanting of the first line is, “Ko Gen Gi Gi,” which means “The light of your face is unsurpassed in Majesty.”  What is this mean?   My cousin said this first line means that Bodhisattva Dharmakara thought his teacher Buddha Lokesvraraja was great.   


  He said that when you read the kanji -  Gi  it means “great” or “very high.”  My cousin said this also means, “Wow, Wow!”   Since this kanji is written twice in Ko Gen Gi Gi, it means twice as great, or “Wow, Wow, Wow, Woow!!”  This shows us that Bodhisattva Dharmakara had a special bond with his teacher Buddha Lokesvraraja and he truly held him in the highest esteem.


  When I think of the light of Buddha Lokesvraraja’s face, I remember the time when my daughter was two years old.   My wife and I placed her in preschool near our home.   Every Monday through Friday, we took her to the preschool so that my wife and I could work.  For the first month, she cried every day when we dropped her off at school.   After work I would pick her up from the school.  When she saw me return, she would run to me with a big bright smile on her face.   She was so happy to see me, and she wanted to show me what she had done at school like her art projects or drawings.   


  Because of her face was so bright, I knew that she was very glad to see me.  My wife and I were proud of the many things she learned at school.   I am sure all the parents have experienced this also.  The love parents share with their children is mutual.   The love between child and parent is always bright.  This is the same for school teachers.  They enjoy seeing their students’ shining smiles.  


  Just as parents are proud of their children, I believe Buddha Lokesvraraja was very proud of his student and this was why the light of his face was “unsurpassed in Majesty.”  Bodhisattva Dharmakara made the promise to Buddha Lokesvraraja that he would apply what he learned and create the best, most inclusive Pure Land in the universe.   He wanted to make his Pure Land available to the sick, suffering, and poor people who wished to attain peace and bliss.  By completing his promise, Bodhisattva Dharmakara became the Amida Buddha.   


   Buddha Lokesvaraja has a bright face because he was proud that his student would become the Amida Buddha.  Like all parents and teachers, we want our children and students to succeed in life.  When our children tell us what they learn and what they want to be in life, this makes us proud and happy.   As parents or Dharma School teachers, we have brightly lit faces just like Buddha Lokesvraraja.    


  For our Dharma School students, I wish for them to continue come to the Arizona Buddhist Temple to learn about the Buddhist Teachings.   When they learn the teachings and apply them to their lives, we can be proud of what they learned.  I think the Amida Buddha will also be proud and have a bright face.  I believe this is the meaning of the first line of the San Butsu Ge.  


  As parents and Dharma School teachers, let us support our children.  They make us proud of them.  This is similar to how proud Buddha Lokesvraraja is in the Bodhisattva Dharmakara who becomes the Amida Buddha.  Let us continue to come to the Temple to learn and be grateful of Amida Buddha’s great promise that we will attain perfect peace and bliss in Pure Land.  Thank you for reading.   Happy Holidays Everyone! 


 Namo Amida Butsu.





President's Message


Kris Nakashima - January 2020



     Behold and welcome to the World of Tomorrow, for the year of 2020 has finally arrived!  The future is now, the past was then, and the next will be later.  It was only a matter of time, so I hope you have prepared yourself for this brave new world of ours.  For the future waits for no one, but time is also relative so it can still take a while.


  In fact, a long time ago, when I was but a young child going to elementary school back in the 90’s, we talked in our class about what the future year of 2020 would be like.  It was like some sort of far off sci-fi dream back then, mysterious and super cool. (BTW Does this make you feel young or old so far? You decide... =)  It was hard to know what would lie in store for humanity in such a far-flung future.  Would there be space travel? What about talking robots, global communication, supercomputers small enough to fit in your pocket, cars that can drive themselves,  giant televisions that can be hung on a wall like a painting, high resolution cameras that allow us to see the most remote stretches of our crazy world.


  I often wonder about these things (not really) as I sit in front of my 65 -inch 4k HDTV while on my mobile phone browsing the internet to figure out how to get the Alexa to be quiet and stop spying on me.   Is this the future that I thought it would be?  Hmm…I guess so, were still working on the self-driving car, space travel could be better I suppose, but hey at least Skynet and the new series T-1000 will keep us safe.  There is no way that foolproof AI System would ever malfunction, after all it was so expensive and shiny.


  We have a lot planned for the year of 2020, with one of our first big events being the Arizona Matsuri being held on February 22nd and the 23rd.  As you may have already heard, the festival will be held at a new location this year at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix near Central and Indian School Road.  We will still need a lot of help with the event so if you are interested in in volunteering please contact Betsy Matsumoto.  


  I would also like to take this time to thank Dave Moriuchi and Double Delta for graciously lending their cherry picker and trimming the palm trees.  Their assistance is greatly appreciated as it will help keep our temple ground a safe and beautiful place to continue our growth.    We still have a lot of badly needed temple maintenance projects we need to complete this year, from new doors for the Hondo, to sprinkler system replacements, and many more.  Any monetary donations to our maintenance and landscaping programs will be greatly appreciated as many of these projects have been long overdue.    


  Speaking of which, if you are a regular shopper on Amazon, our temple has started a new Amazon Smile charity drive.  All you need to do, is simply go to “Smile.Amazon.com” and enter “Arizona Buddhist Temple” as your chosen charity, and 0.5% of anything you purchase, Amazon Smile will then donate to our temple.  It’s a simple and easy way to help our temple, so if you have any trouble getting it to work, feel free to let us know.

  Lastly, I would like to send our condolences to David Molina and the Kajimura family on the recent passing of Mary Kajimura, may she be remembered fondly. 


  So now, with gratitude for the people who came before us, let us look forward to a brave new decade, full of family, friends, and a future that is more like Star Trek and less like Blade Runner, but at least it won’t be like that Terminator movie, right?  In any case, Long live the Rat King and his mighty hammer, may you all be happy and healthy in the New Year of 2020!!





Kris Nakashima


El Presidente del Templo Budista de Arizona



Arizona Buddhist Temple Women's Club


Betsy Matsumoto


      Thank you to everyone who helped with Mochitsuki on December 14 and 15. It was a very long day on Sunday, but we were able to finish with the help of those who stayed until the end.  As a “thank you” to everyone who supported the ABT Thrift Store, the main meal was provided by the women’s club 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 School students prepared a delicious spaghetti luncheon for Bodhi Day. Thanks to the students for preparing and serving the lunch.


  The 2020 Matsuri Festival is on Saturday and Sunday, February 22 and 23 at the Steel Indian School Park, 300 East Indian School Rd. in Phoenix.  This is our biggest fundraiser, so please save these days on your calendar.  There are several members that need to renew their Food Employee Certificate, formerly called the Food Handler’s Card.  We will notify you if it is necessary for you to recertify.  If you would like to help but do not have the certificate, we ask that you take the test.  Information for the certificate can be found on the Food Service Worker – Maricopa County website.  There will be a sign-up sheet to volunteer for Matsuri on the information board in the back of the hondo.  


  The temple just signed up for AmazonSmile. With every eligible purchase, AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% to the Arizona Buddhist Temple.  Please visit the website, smile.amazon.com, and it will explain on how AmazonSmile will donate to the temple. 


  Our next meeting is Sunday, January 12, 2020, at 9:00am.


The Temple would like to thank all of the individuals who are constantly volunteering their time to take care of our Temple grounds!


Pictured are Mino Inoshita, Nancie Haranaka, Fran Johnston,

Joe Langlois, and Ellen White. 


Our Maintenance crew has lost a couple of members due to health issues and 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!


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. 




  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.



The Chuck Matsumoto Memorial Scholarship


              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: nakagawa@asu.edu, phone: (602) 373-7322


-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! 

Arizona Buddhist Temple Board Members 2018


Megan Tang

President, Religious


  I have been coming to temple regularly since my senior year of high school. I have

childhood memories of coming to temple for Obon and Hanamatsuri. I met my now

husband through the Temple and we have been happily married now for 6 years.

Chuck Matsumoto helped Mike and I fulfill the Temple roles we now have today.

We hope to serve our Sangha to the best of our abilities. We are grateful for the

temple community and hope to continue to aid in spreading the dharma for future



Jim Kawashima

Vice President


  I really had an awesome experience attending the Buddhist Temple in San Jose during my youth years and Jody & I want our children, Lauren and Kendall, to have the same. Many of my best friends are from the temple and from the YBA. I enjoy and appreciate the Dharma talks and learning Buddhism. I value the friendships made and building relationships with the Sangha.


Mino Inoshita



  84 still young and healthy. BSEE from ASU, retired computer HW designer, married 55 years to only wife Kathryn and have one daughter, Sandra. ABT Board member for about 37 years and counting.


Kris Nakashima



  I have been attending services at the Arizona Buddhist Temple since I was little, long before I can even remember. My family is originally from the Big Island of Hawai'i, having associated mainly with the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin as well as the Puna Hongwanji. My parents after having lived in Hawai'i, Saipan, and California for a number of years, eventually moved to Arizona where I was born. The youngest of my siblings, I grew up in Chandler for most of my youth until I started High School where I then lived in Las Vegas for a few years before eventually returning to Arizona to attend Art School, where I graduated with a Bachelors in 2007.  Even when I was living in Las Vegas, I would regularly travel with my parents to Phoenix to participate in Arizona Jr. YBA activities., in addition to Obon, the Arizona Matsuri, Hanamatsuri, Potlucks, and regular Dharma Services. 


  These days I work as an editor for a  film and video company in the east valley along with freelance graphic design as a side gig.  I also manage the AZ Temple Website, so let me know if you feel like posting something cool!  I consider many in the Sangha as my friends and family as well, having encouraged me throughout my lifetime to maintain an open mind, a compassionate heart, and to seek a greater understanding of the world around us.... hmm does that sound too corny?


Karen Magnin



  I have been a member at our Temple for 11 years. I have been happily married to

Vonn Magnin for the last 21 years. I have two beautiful boys: James and Lance. I

have been a kindergarten teacher for the last 21 years. I really enjoy being a member

of our Temple and the community.


Eugene Nomura

Treasurer, Finance


  I am a second generation native Arizonan. I have lived in the Valley all my life.

My favorite reading is science fiction novels.


Joe Murray

Assistant Treasurer, Finance


  The first time I came to the Temple was with my then girlfriend Enid Sugiyama for an Obon dance where I sort of learned how to dance the Tanko-Bushi. Over the next

few years, we would attend occasional services on special occasions, but we did not

begin to attend regularly until our daughter Ehsa was born. (I will never forget the

generosity of the temple members during Enid’s baby shower). When Kaoru was not

feeling well and Enid was expecting Nicholas, Sugiyama Sensei, two-year old Ehsa

and I would attend service and have lunch at Cherry Blossom afterwards. Over the

years we have made many good friends and memories while participating in Temple

activities, road trips and events and we hope to continue to contribute to the Temple

for many years to come.


Lorenzo Frausto

Member at Large


  My name is Lorenzo Frausto and my family and I have been coming to temple for

about 4 years. My wife, Suzanne, found out about temple through the booth at

Matsuri and we immediately liked it after our first visit. I have lived in Arizona my

whole life and am an immigration attorney. I watch too many movies.


Tracey Tang

Member at Large


  I am a last year pharmacy student whose temple attendance probably predates my

birth. Seeing the involvement of my family and the support of my community has

shaped the person who I have become, and I want to help give back to the community that has given me so much. When I am not doing artwork, design work, or home work, you can find me watching the latest Korean dramas. Please feel free to stop by and say hi or contact me with any questions!




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.


In Gassho,  

Lynn Sugiyama


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.  




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