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, September 3rd
- Labor Day Weekend-
-No Service -
Sunday, September 10th
08:30 am - Meditation Class
10:00 am - Shotsuki Hoyo Dharma Service
11:00 am - Dharma School Class
11:30 am Temple Clean Up, Welcome Back Potluck
Sunday, September 17th
09:00 am - Q&A Session
09:00 am - Women's Club Meeting
10:00 am - Dharma Service
11:00 am - Dharma School Class
Sunday, September 24th
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
Hello! I hope you are trying to enjoy the hot summer. In September a new school year has begun. I hope everyone had a good summer break. Vonn Sensei, Michael Sensei and I are looking forward to a great Dharma School Year and helping the children learn Buddhism.
For several years, I travelled many times to the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley, CA. I always liked going there because the seminars were great to attend and the professors and ministers were very helpful. They provided lectures and the students and ministers gave Dharma Talks that helped us better understand Jodo Shinshu, or the Shin Buddhist Teachings.
Bishop Koshin Ogui was the leader of the Buddhist Churches of America when I went to the seminars. During his talks, he sometimes used the famous phrase, “The teaching of the Buddha is like a person pointing to the moon with his finger, asking us to look up at the moon.” The analogy relates the Buddhist teachings to the finger pointing to the moon.
At the Arizona Buddhist Temple, our Dharma School teachers explain Buddhism to the children. You can say they are teaching by pointing to the moon. When Vonn Sensei, Michael Sensei, and I give our Dharma Talks, we are using our messages to point at the moon. In Shin Buddhism, Amida Buddha represents the finger point to the Moon for all of us to look.
What does the moon represent?
The moon is analogous the ultimate truth or the enlightenment that the Sakyamuni Buddha attained under the Bodhi tree. The moon is the realm of awakening or enlightenment. It is the place of perfect peace and bliss, it is the Pure Land. The person who enters the Pure Land will not suffer from physical pain or the desires of greed, anger, and ignorance.
Although it may be easy to point to the moon, it is very difficult to reach the moon of enlightenment. To attain enlightenment, we learn and practice the Buddhist teachings. It is often hard to truly practice because our anger and ignorance deviates our path to reach enlightenment. In Shin Buddhism, this means we have to transcend ourselves. We should attain faith to go beyond this secular world to reach the ultimate enlightenment. In Shin Buddhism, faith in the Amida Buddha is to have the entrusting heart and mind of Shinjin. We truly believe in Amida Buddha’s promise, or Great Vow, to sincerely say his name is our path to the Pure Land. Let us practice reciting “Namo Amida Butsu” sincerely, to realize the entrusting heart.
When one points to the moon, this means the finger is Amida Buddha’s Great Vow leading us to say “Namo Amida Butsu” (I Take Refuge in the Amida Buddha). This is recited in gratitude to him for helping us attain enlightenment in the Pure Land, our path to the moon or enlightenment. As we enter a new Dharma School year, please join us in listening and practicing the Buddhist teachings. Let us walk together in the great Nembutsu Path and reach the moon.
Thank you for reading!
Namo Amida Butsu.
Megan Ishikawa Tang - September 2017
On behalf of the Arizona Buddhist Temple, I would like to welcome everyone back to the 2017-2018 Dharma School year! I hope that everyone had a healthy, safe, and restful summer break. We are excited to start the new dharma school year with all of you.
The first day back at the Temple for Dharma Service will be Sunday, September 10th. We look forward to seeing everyone back at the Temple. On September 10, we will have a Welcome Back Potluck as well as Temple Clean up. Please come and bring your favorite dish to share with everyone.
This year, we will continue to hold Meditation classes as well as Q&A sessions before service. Please feel free to come and join in on these sessions. This year, we hope to continue to grow our Temple as we spread the dharma in new and creative ways. We hope that we can carry on the traditions of friends and family that have come before us and continue to improve the Temple and its functions.
Also, on behalf of the Temple, we would like to express our most sincere condolences to the Eshima families for the passing of Dennis Eshima on August 7, 2017 as well as the Liu families for the passing of Mary Liu on July 30, 2017.
Arizona Buddhist Temple Women's Club
We would like to thank you for your continued support of the ABT Thrift Store. Because of your support we have been able to install a rolling shutter to cover the kitchen counter food service area, clean the carpet in the hondo and replace a pine tree with a Crape Myrtle tree. The pine tree was in the garden in front of the temple and had fallen a few years ago.
In the coming months, we plan to replace some of the older kitchen items, purchase additional canopies to cover more of the cooking area during Matsuri and replace some of the doors in the office and temple. We are accepting donations; and if bulky/heavy items need to be picked up, please contact Kathy Inoshita or Betsy Matsumoto. We are also looking for volunteers to help at the thrift store on Saturdays or Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
On the same day the hondo carpet was cleaned, the temple kitchen was inspected by the Environmental Services. Thanks to the Parents Club mothers for cleaning the kitchen. It passed with a grade “A”.
Also, thank you to Tom Kajimura with the help of Mino Inoshita, David Moriuchi, Ken Ariza and Rev. Lynn Sugiyama for getting the kitchen door open and replacing the door knob. We had not been able to open the door for a couple of weeks.
Our next meeting is Sunday, September 17, at 9:00 am
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.