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, April 29th
10:00 am - Dharma Service
11:00 am - Dharma School Class
Open to Public
Sunday, May 6th
9:00 am -Q&A Session
10:00 am - Dharma Service
11:00 am - Dharma School Class
Open to Public
Sunday, May 13th
08:30 am - Meditation Class
10:00 am - Dharma Service, Shotsuki Hoyo,
11:30 am - Mother's Day Brunch
Open to Public
Sunday, May 20th
9:00 am -Q&A Session
10:00 am - Dharma Service, Gotane
11:00 am - Dharma School Class
Open to Public
Friday to Sunday May 25th to 27th
Memorial Weekend Services
--No Temple Service--
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
We enjoy the months of April and May because it part of the spring season. It is a time when we are able to go outside to enjoy the weather before it turns into the hot summer. These two months are also important to us as Shin Buddhist. This April, we commemorated the birth of the historical Sakyamuni Buddha who was born some 2,500 years ago. During the month of May we commemorate the birth of our spiritual founder, Shinran Shonin. We show our gratitude by having a special service called Gotanye, to honor the birth of Shinran Shonin.
At the end of February of 2018, I went to Buddhist Churches of America National Council Meeting. This meeting was held in Sacramento, CA. There were several seminars that I attended. One talked about Buddhism and the internment camps during World War II. In another seminar, two ministers chanted the Godensho, which means “The Life.” It is chanted in classical Japanese and it gives the biography of Shinran Shonin. The two minister chanted the Godensho very beautifully.
From the Godensho, we learn that Shinran Shonin was born on May 21, 1173. He was from an aristocratic family. At the age of nine, he was accepted into a Tendai Buddhist monastery, and became an excellent student. At the age of 29, he encountered the Nembutsu teachings from Master Honen who changed his life forever. Shinran Shonin learned that through Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, all persons who sincerely say the Nembutsu, Namo Amida Butsu, will attain spiritual birth in the Pure Land.
It is truly amazing that we are able listen his teachings even though 750 years have passed since his death. His teachings have been passed down generation after generation. One of Shinran Shonin’s disciples was named Yuien-bo, and he wrote an important book titled the Tannisho, which means “A Record in Lament of Divergences.” Yuienbo explained the true meaning of Namo Amida Butsu that Shinran Shonin taught. He felt many people misunderstood the teachings, so he wanted to write them correctly for everyone to know the meaning Amida Buddha’s Vow and the Nembutsu teachings. Yuienbo wrote that his teacher’s words still reverberated in his ears even though many years had passed. This demonstrated how much he revered Shinran Shonin.
In the book, Yuienbo recorded Shinran Shonin saying:
“Saved by the inconceivable working of the Primal Vow, we attain birth in the Pure Land” – thus entrusting ourselves to the Vow, with the thought of saying the Nembutsu arising from deep within, immediately do we receive the benefit of being grasped and never to be abandoned.”
- (Arai, Grasped by the Buddha’s Vow, Chapter 1, 2008)
This sentence explains the essence of Shin Buddhism. To have sincere and entrusting faith, or Shinjin, in the Amida Buddha’s Vow is the path to the Pure Land. Amida Buddha constantly gives his great wisdom and compassion to all those who recite his name. That is why we are “grasped and never abandoned” by this teaching.
When we conduct services at the Arizona Buddhist Temple, I meet many people who want to learn the Buddhist teachings. They want to visit this temple and see how our members practice the Nembutsu teachings. I think Shinran Shonin would be happy to find a Shin Buddhist temple in Arizona. As we commemorate the birth of Shinran Shonin, let us remember what he taught and that we are always embraced by Amida Buddha’s wisdom and compassion.
Namo Amida Butsu
Megan Tang - May 2018
Happy May to everyone! I would like to start off by thanking everyone who helped at our Hanamatsuri Festival. The Jr. YBA and Sangha Teens did a beautiful job decorating the hanamido with lots of flowers, and the Women’s Club cooked a delicious bento meal.
Memorial weekend is quickly approaching. Over Memorial weekend Sensei Lynn, Vonn, and Michael will be performing services at the various cemeteries throughout the valley. Please see the below schedule for dates and times of the services.
This year’s Obon service and odori will be on Saturday June 9th and Sunday June 10th. Please see the attached Obon flyer. We will be holding odori dance practices a couple of weeks prior to Obon, so please come and join us to learn the dances. The obon dance practice schedule is below. We also have lanterns for sale that can be dedicated to a lost loved one (see attached flyer).
I would like to thank Tami Hirasawa for all of her years of service to the Temple playing the organ during temple service. She has done a great job and her musical ability has helped us to make our gathas that much more beautiful. Tami and her family will be moving out of state this summer and we wish them all the best in their new adventures. At this time, we are looking for volunteer organ or piano players who would be willing to play during temple services. If you are interested, please reach out to Lynn Sugiyama, Vonn Magnin, or Michael Tang. In Gassho
Arizona Buddhist Temple Women's Club
We would like to thank those who helped with the Hanamatsuri bento. Special thank you to Miyoko Ariza for the tsukemono, Mine Tominaga for the teriyaki sauce, Liz Matsumoto for the tofu teriyaki and the mothers from the Parents Club for baking the cupcakes.
The Annual BWA Mother’s Day Dinner will be held at Hana Japanese Eatery on Wednesday, May 9, at 5:30pm. Details on menu and prices will be at the temple during Sunday Dharma Services. Deadline to make a reservation is Sunday, May 6 at 12:00 noon.
The next BWA meeting will be on Sunday, May 6 at 9:00am.
Obon Odori Practice Schedule
Monday, May 28th
Wednesday, May 30st
Friday, June 1st
Monday, June 4th
Wednesday, June 6th
Friday, June 8th
**Practice will be held at the Temple at 7:30pm
VISITATION SCHEDULE 2018
Friday, May 25th
9:30 am: Veterran's Memorial Cemetery
Saturday May 26th
7:30 am: Glendale Memorial and Glenadale Resthaven
9:00 am: Phoenix Greenwood Memorial
Sunday, May 27th
8:00 am: South Mountain Resthaven Park
9:00 am: Mesa Cemetery
Birthday Sunday for May: Sunday May 29th
Birthday cake: The Murray Family
Chairing in April: 6th Grade Class
Mother's Day Brunch:Please join us for our annual Mother's Day Brunch on Sunday May 13th right after service
Memorial Day Weekend: The Sensei's will be visiting cemeteries on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, There will be no Temple Service that day.
The Obon Festival and Obon Lanterns
Obon, as one of the most popular of the Buddhist observances known to non-Buddhists, it is seen as an observance solely dedicated to the departed. But, Obon is also deeply tied with the present.
Obon Memorial Lantern is a way to express our gratitude to our family and friends who have left this world and attained Perfect Peace. As we reminisce about our departed loved ones, we reflect on our own lives and rededicate ourselves to live in the Nembutsu Teachings which departed loved ones has shown us to follow.
This year, our Temple will be offering two different lanterns for purchase. The more formal lanterns will be displayed inside the Temple Hondo for Obon Service. The second type of lantern will be displayed outdoors for the Obon Odori on Saturday, June 9, 2018 at the Arizona Buddhist
Temple. The tassel of the Obon Memorial Lantern is personalized with an individual name of the departed loved one with his/her name and/or Buddhist Name.
To ensure your Obon Memorial Lantern is hung at our Bon Dance/Obon service, please contact Lynn Sugiyama at the Arizona Buddhist Temple by Sunday, May 27, 2018.
Arizona Buddhist Temple Attention:
Obon Lanterns 4142 W Clarendon Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85019.
For more info: Please contact Lynn Sensei at 602-366-0590.
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.
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.