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Moments of Silence
“Beings will come from the ten directions to be born in my country. They will be pure, their minds filled with gladness. Those in my pleasant country will be peaceful and at ease.”
Today marks the 5th year memorial of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. Five years later the debate on guns and gun control continues. Whether on the side of gun control or expanded use of guns the debate rages on and the killings continue. According to NPR some 60 school shootings have occurred since 2012.
Each time we encounter a tragedy we are asked to join in a “moment of silence” for the victims and their families. I think many of us take the time to think about our families, and we also think about and feel sorrow for the families suffering loss. Perhaps some of us feel at a loss about what to think and what that moment of silence is for and what we should be doing.
As a Buddhist, I think this moment is a time for me to be more mindful of the causes and conditions that bring about events in our lives. To look deeply at the suffering of human beings and practice kindness and compassion. If you take a moment of silence today in memory of Sandy Hook, I hope we will think of all who suffered as a result of that incident and know that they will all find peace in Amida’s Pure Land.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy new year. During the past year all of you have kindly supported me in my efforts to bring the Buddha Dharma to Watsonville and the surrounding area. Because of your efforts and support we have been able to see some growth and increased interest in our programs. I look forward to 2018 as we increase our efforts and programs at the temple.
On behalf of my family I send to all of you our deepest thanks and gratitude for all of your support and look forward to your advice and assistance in 2018 the year of the Dog.
Rev. Jay & Jane Shinseki and family.
This year 2018 (or 2,581 from the time of the birth of the Buddha) is the year of the dog, people born in 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006 and 2018 are considered dog people. Some characteristics of the dog are: Sincere, reliable, considerate, understanding, patient, intelligent, hardworking, brave and responsible.
It was believed that as the Buddha lay dying; all the animals were summoned before him. Of all the animals twelve in number showed up to say their farewells to the Buddha. In honor of the twelve the Buddha designated a year after each. It was therefore thought that the person born in that year is strongly influenced by that animal.
The 12 animals that showed up in front of Lord Buddha included the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig successively. The story is that the cat spoke with his friend the rat. They agreed that whichever one of them awoke in the morning first would be responsible for waking the other so they could go to Lord Buddha together. Unfortunately, the rat did not wake his friend the cat. And for this reason the cat is missing from the twelve who visited the Buddha.
Many of us enjoy hearing and talking about the different characteristics of the 12 animals. However, the positive characteristics attributed to each animal can be achieved by each of us and the negative characteristics can be avoided. We can be the very best we can in 2018 no matter what our sign is. We each have the hearts and minds to be understanding, patient, intelligent and responsible even if our sign is not the year of the dog.
Together let us all make every effort to practice patience, compassion understanding and spread kindness and peace wherever we are.
Also, in the month of January we also celebrate on of our most important observances as Jodoshinshu Buddhists. Goshoki Hoonko literally means a gathering to express our indebtedness at a memorial to Shinran Shonin the founder of Jodoshinshu Buddhism. According to the western calendar Shinran was born on May 21st 1173 and died on January 1, 1262. What makes Shinran remarkable as a Buddhist is his achievement in setting forth, with a thoroughness and coherence, that is quite remarkable, a path to enlightenment accessible to all people. A teaching still relevant and applicable to our everyday lives.
This year we will observe the Hoonko service together with Monterey and Salinas at our temple on January 28, 2018. The observance will begin on Saturday, January 27th with a special lecture by our guest speaker Rev. Nariaki Hayashi of the Ekoji Buddhist Temple in Fairfax, Virginia. The special lecture/presentation will begin at 2:00 pm. The Hoonko observance will continue on Sunday, January 28th at 10:00 am with a special service and luncheon to follow. I encourage everyone to join us for this very special gathering.
Rev. Jay Shinseki
November is the start of the holiday season for us. We begin with Thanksgiving and then move right into Christmas and the New Year celebration. From a Buddhist perspective it is a season of gratitude. Beginning with Thanksgiving a holiday created to express thanks for what we have received. It is good to be reminded of what we should be thankful for and also reminded that Thanksgiving is not just about turkey and football.
The first “Pilgrims” to land in the United States included many mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and little children. They crossed over a vast ocean to an unknown land. The trip was difficult with a small overcrowded ship the Mayflower. They spent two months on the Atlantic seeing nothing but the ocean. We can imagine their thoughts of warmth, shelter and food when they saw land. However it was November and they were greeted by rocks, sand and bare ground. That first winter over half the Pilgrims died from the cold and hunger. One Native American named Squanto felt compassion for the suffering Pilgrims and taught them how to plant corn and other crops. The next autumn they harvested their crops and were relieved that they had enough to survive the coming winter. In gratitude to Squanto and his friends the Pilgrims hosted a feast for them. This became the first Thanksgiving, a true gesture of gratitude.
Each November we conduct a major service called the Eitaikyo Muen Hoyo or Perpetual Sutra Chanting Memorial Service. This service represents for us the continuing influence generation after generation that allow us to hear the teachings within the sutras. For us at the Watsonville Buddhist Temple it is an important time to reflect on our temple history and how we as a sangha are able to receive the Dharma in our lives. We have just completed the celebration of the 110th Anniversary of the Watsonville Buddhist Temple. It was an important reminder of the sacrifices that our founders made to establish and maintain the temple. Like the Pilgrims of old, the Issei came to a hostile land and established communities and temples. We honor those in the past with the yearly Eitaikyo Muen Hoyo. The Eitaikyo list of people in the past is extensive and each in their own way have contributed to making our temple a living, breathing continuing Dharma center.
We have at our temple an Eitaikyo book which sits on the altar. It is a calendar book in which the names of deceased persons are entered on the day of their death. Donors to a special fund used only for upkeep of the Naijin or special Dharma events have their names entered into the book. Sutras are chanted yearly for those names entered in the book in perpetuity. Donations to the Eitaikyo fund can be made in memory of family members at any time. We encourage all members to honor their past and continue to make donations to the Eitaikyo fund assuring the continued chanting of the sutras in memory of family members.