New Years Traditions

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D8002938-C6D1-4B2D-8DD1-24A1D84A0F87As we approach the end of 2018 it is a time of reflection.  The past year was full of change and we said goodbye to some dear friends and family members.  We can turn to the truth taught by the Buddha and find some comfort at our losses.  The Buddha taught that by attaining enlightenment, we shall enter Nirvana.  The advantage of enlightenment lies in the comprehension of the transiency of all our bodily existence while at the same time the permanence of our spiritual nature.

Impermanence is a common theme in our dharma talks and we have a long tradition of funeral and memorial services that remind us of this truth.  However, we live day to day like we will live eternally.

This is the plight of human beings.  We live day to day not realizing the shadow of death that follows us everywhere we go.  If we lived each day as if it were our last, we would feel sincere gratitude for each breath, for all that we receive and all that is done for us by others.

Thankfully we conduct dharma gatherings regularly to remind us of our limited selves and the infinite wisdom and compassion of Amida Buddha that embraces us.  Annually at the end of theKagami Mochi year we place on the altar “kagami mochi” the pounded sweet rice that is shaped into the form of an ancient mirror.   Atop the mochi is placed a “daidai” or tangerine.  The mirror represents self reflection a practice encouraged by the Buddha throughout his life.   It is only through self reflection that we are able to see that self true and real.

The daidai represents the new life we are given with each breath.   Each breath, each moment of life is an opportunity for us to awaken to the truth of our life and begin to live a life of thankfulness and gratitude.

Rare is it to obtain human life, and difficult to encounter a Buddha’s appearance in the world; Hard is it to attain the wisdom of entrusting: Should you meet with and hear this teaching, pursue it with diligence.  If a person, hearing and never forgetting this dharma, sees, reveres, and attains it, and greatly rejoices, then he or she is my excellent, close companion; therefore awaken aspiration for enlightenment!  Even when the world is filled with a great fire, pass through it and seek to hear the dharma; then you will unfailingly become a world-honored one and free all beings from birth, aging and death.”  Shinran’s True Teaching, Practice, and Realization.

Japan 2018 X

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On Saturday we traveled to Nara and visited Kofuku-ji and Todaiji.

Japan 2018 IX

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On Friday we had time in the morning to shop and visit sites on our own.  Several of us traveled to Yamazaki and visited the Yamazaki Distillery.  Following the distillery we met up with the rest of our group at the Osaka Castle.  We visited the site on Osaka grounds where Rennyo Shonin hung his robe to establish the Honganji in Osaka.  Friend Chisa Matsunaga took us to a wonderful robatayaki in Osaka.

Japan 2018 VIII

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Today (Thursday) we visited Ohara and the Jikko-ji temple and Sanzen-in.  Beautiful and quiet part of Kyoto.  Jikko-in is a temple founded in 600 as a nunnery. Sanzen-in established by Saisho in 986.

Japan 2018 VII

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We spent the Wednesday in Kyoto visiting Otani Hombyo the burial site of Shinran Shonin.  We also had a wonderful tour of Honganji by Tabitha Kobata and then a great dinner at Spring Valley Brewery.  We ran into Jimmy Matsuki from Mountain View who joined us for dinner.

Japan 2018 VI

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Yesterday we traveled by bullet train to Kyoto, had a visit to bamboo gardens in Arashiyama where we ran into John and Lois Arao!  We visited Tenryu-ji and then returned to the train station where we had a great Tonkatsu dinner at Katsukura.



Japan Trip 2018 VI

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Today we had a wonderful trip to Mt. Fuji.  We had a wonderful view of Fuji-San today.  Tomorrow we travel to Kyoto!

Japan 2018 V

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Yesterday we traveled from Tokyo to Kamakura.  We traveled near Sagami bay on the Pacific Ocean side of Japan and had some great views of Fuji-san.  We visited Hasedera in Kamakura.  The story is that twin statues were made of kannon bosatsu the bodhisatva in Nara.  One statue was lost and ended up on the shores of Kamakura.  The statue was covered in oysters, recovered and Hasedera was built to house the gold statue.  Inside the adjoining cave I lite a candle to Amida Buddha.  Namoamidabutsu.  BTW I also lite a candle to the statue of the god of sake.

Japan Trip 2018 IV

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Today we visited the Great Buddha of Kamakura a testament to the faith in Amida Buddha. Mount Fujii was showing herself in all her splendor today.  We settled into Hakone at our inn and enjoyed the onsen and a great kaiseki dinner.

Japan Trip III

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Yesterday we visited the Tokyo Dome home of the Yomuri Giants.  There was no game but a JPop concert.  We visited the Hall of Fame and did some shopping.  We then traveled to Meiji Shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) the 122nd emperor of Japan.