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, November 5th
09:00 am - Q&A Session
10:00 am - Dharma Service
11:00 am - Dharma School Class
Sunday, November 12th
08:30 am - Meditation Class
10:00 am - Dharma Service, Shotsuki Hoyo
11:00 am - Dharma School Class
Sunday, November 19th
09:00 am - Q&A Session
10:00 am - Dharma Service, Eitaikyo
11:00 am - Dharma School Class
Sunday, November 26th
08:30 am - Meditation Class
10:00 am - Dharma Service
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
My Buddhist Name
A student came to me the other day and said that he wanted everyone to start calling him by a nickname of his choosing. He had settled on, “Neymar,” after the soccer player. I told him that I couldn’t make the other students call him by a new name, that it had to happen on its own.
“You don’t get to pick your own nickname,” I said to him, though this did not seem to make him very happy. Suffice to say, the rest of the students did not want to call him Neymar and as a result, they started calling him “Noname” instead, a name which could conceivably stick for the rest of the year or longer.
I think about names a lot, what they mean, what they carry. I’ve decided that names are gifts, something that’s given to you, whether you want it or not. However, how you carry that name really depends on you. I feel this way about my Buddhist name, for example.
My Buddhist name is Seijyo. It was given to me by Rev. Furumoto when he was the resident minister here many years ago, and at the time he informed me that it translated loosely to, “He who seeks enlightenment.”
The twenty year-old version of myself thought this was a fitting choice. I had, arrogantly, thought that I was a deep thinker, someone who read a lot of old philosophy and gave a lot of thought to spirituality, so I regarded the name as optimal and then carried it as a moniker for some time without really giving it too much additional respect or contemplation.
That said, it was not until later, when I really started to study Jodoshinshu, that this name started to take on an entirely different meaning. I realized that anyone who seeks enlightenment as a goal is really a fool. It is a person who tries to use self power, who tries to will themselves to enlightenment on their own accord, a person who meditates and says the Nembutsu with their own desires in mind. It’s a person who exemplifies self power, exactly that which Shinran argued would never result in enlightenment. So in a sense, the Buddhist name ascribed to me was something of a fools errand –a practice in futility.
That said, while I was taken back by this at first, I eventually came to a different understanding about what this name means. In a way, this name is not ultimately an act in futility, but really an admission of what I already have to understand about myself –that I am a foolish person, exactly the type of person that Shinran talks about in much of his writing. I am the type of person who must entirely rely on Amida Buddha to reach the Pureland. As a boastful, know-it-all youth I had run with this title without carefully respecting what it meant in the greater picture of Jodoshinshu teachings; and yet, in a strange way, how I lived was exactly an embodiment of what the name meant to me at the time.
I think back on this not with regret, but with thanks. Today I feel that the name isn’t a shameful boast about my intentions to become an enlightened being; contrary, it’s an admission that I, like everyone else, am an egotistical person, complete with all my desires and delusions and therefore, I have no choice but to put my trust into Amida Buddha. It’s also a reminder of how my understanding of the Dharma has changed, and how even something that you say to yourself over and over as a truth, is really always in some state of flux. A name, something constant, is an opportunity to reflect on who we are, where came from and where we are headed.
I had an opportunity to change my name when I went to Tokudo, but I decided against it. I just couldn’t bear the idea of giving away a name, something that was given to me. Rev. Furumoto gave me that name because he thought it fit –and that’s what I felt was most important. Moreover, whatever my name means to me today is probably not what it will mean to me tomorrow, and so I look forward to knowing what it might mean tomorrow.
Megan Tang - October 2017
Happy fall season to everyone! We are starting the end of the 2017 year. I hope this finds everyone doing well.
First off, I would like to send a big thank you to Reverend Akahoshi for being our guest and putting on a great educational seminar for our Sangha as well as being our guest speaker for our October Shotsuki service.
I hope everyone enjoyed his talk and discussions. I would like to thank everyone who came out for our Halloween potluck. The dharma school students had a lot of fun Trick-or-Treating with our Sangha members!
Our annual Mochitsuki is just around the corner and will be held on Sunday, December 17th. Please come by to help make mochi! Please see the attached "Mochi Order Form" and please turn in to Betsy Matsumoto by Sunday, December 10th.
Next month, we will be sending out notices for Board elections as well as the notice for the annual January General Meeting. More to come!
I hope that everyone has a wonderful November and a Happy Thanksgiving!
Arizona Buddhist Temple Women's Club
Our next event is Mochitsuki on December 17. An "Order Form" is included in this issue of the Prajna. Please fill out and return as soon as possible. The schedule for set-up, preparation and making of mochi will be in the December Prajna.
The ABT Thrift Store is busy with the coming holidays. Please visit us. You may find something that you didn’t know you needed. 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. We are always looking for volunteers to help at the thrift store.
Our next meeting is Sunday, January 7, 2018, at 9:00 am
Birthday Sunday for November: Sunday November 26th
Birthday cake: Alex Ettling
Chairing in September: 6th Grade
Halloween Party and Potluck: Thank you to all who attended our Halloween Party. The kids really had a wonderful time. Thank you to everyone who donated their time and food to make this a successful event.
Parent's Club: We will tentatively have a Parent Club meeting after service on November 12th in the classroom. More information will follow.
Thanksgiving: Please take some time to think about all the wonderful things that you are grateful for. The kids will be coming up with ways to show gratitude this month.
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.
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 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.