HOLIDAY SEASON: "DANA" GENEROSITY


As Buddhists, we try to live respecting and admiring the truth and the goodness of people of all religious traditions.

So please enjoy the winter holiday season of its many diverse cultural and religious backgrounds! We make a choice of a gift not knowing precisely what is desired by the receiver. In return we will be receiving gifts from others who do not know exactly what it is that we desire. The important thing to remember is the ‘spirit’ of the season which is to give with no conditions and to have a sense of gratitude and appreciation as the receiver.

What better time is there to practice dana, the Pali word for generosity? Dana is about giving with no attachments or from any thought of receiving anything in return. It is a gift of gratitude and of letting go of the sense of self that feels the need to acquire more and more in our perpetual scavenger hunt for happiness. It is my wish that all the temples in Canada share the Buddhist practice of ‘giving’ with a hope that we can use this joyful time to expand our generous hearts and give to local charities of your choosing.

This is a time when we are able to express our appreciation to so many people who have helped us throughout the whole year. I would like to thank you all for the support you have given to your local temples. I would like to express my appreciation to the ministers and temple directors for their dedication in maintaining and keeping our temples vital and moving ever forward. As we enjoy wonderful family time during the festive season, I would like to wish all of you a very happy holiday season and New Year!

With palms together,
 
Tatsuya Aoki, Bishop
Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada
青木龍也


BUDDHISM IS NOT A DIFFICULT TEACHING


Recently, there were two incidents in the news which I found difficult to accept. They made me reflect on the value of religion. The first was the recent discovery of the remains of 215 young residential school students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School site. There are additional sites that have been found. The other tragic news was the loss of four members of a Muslim family killed in a “pre-meditated” vehicle attack in London, Ontario.
 
We have offered moments of silence at our services in the month of June. I was asked how I, as a Buddhist, reflect on these sad incidents in the mirror of the Dharma. When I think of Buddhism and share its teaching with others, it reminds me of this old parable contained in “The Gatha of the Seven Ancient Buddhas”.
 
In the old days, in China, a wise old Zen Master lived high up in a tall pine tree. People of the time called him the ‘Bird’s Nest Monk.’ When Minister Po Chu-yi was commander of Ch’ien T'ang district, he made a special trip into the mountains to visit him. Po said, “It’s very dangerous where you’re sitting, Zen Master.” The Master said, “My danger may be very great, Minister, but yours is even greater!” Po said, “I am the commander of Ch’ien T’ang. What dangers can there be?” The Master said, “When fuel and fire are joined, consciousness and identity do not survive, how can you not be in danger?”
 
Po further asked, “What is the overall meaning of the Buddhist teaching?” The Master said, “Do not commit any evil; practice the many virtues.” Po said, “Even a three year old child could say that!” The Master said, “Though a three year old child can say it, an eighty year old man cannot carry it out.” Po then bowed and departed.

I often tell people that Buddha-Dharma is not a difficult teaching to understand, but sometimes Buddha-Dharma is difficult to accept or practice. In Jodo Shinshu, this is why we need to continue to listen to the teaching while being embraced by Amida’s compassion and
wisdom.

With palms together and Namo Amida Butsu,
 
Tatsuya Aoki
Bishop, Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada
青木龍也


A REFLECTION ON ANTI-ASIAN VIOLENCE


In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the increase in hate crimes and incidents against Asian-Canadians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Island communities has risen significantly because of ‘reports’ that the virus originated in Asia. This is intimately connected to systemic, historic, and state-sanctioned discrimination against Asians in national and international relations. We support and stand in solidarity with the Asian communities in Canada. As a Buddhist organization, we need to be part of the solution. “The Golden Chain”, a simple, but popular Shin Buddhist reading at Dharma services, goes as follows:
I am a link in Amida’s golden chain of love that stretches around the world. I will keep my link bright and strong. May I be kind and gentle to every living thing and protect all who are weaker than myself. May I think pure and beautiful thoughts, say pure and beautiful words, and do pure and beautiful deeds. May every link in Amida’s golden chain of love be bright and strong, and may we all attain perfect peace.
Dorothy Hunt
“The Golden Chain” is written in a simple style explaining the ethical teaching of Buddhism, especially to our children. It encourages and nurtures kindness and love for all beings. It is our hope that children become aware of their inner strength to protect the lives of other people and animals. This short saying inspires not only children, but adults, to pursue the goodness of human life, through the teachings of the interdependence of all things and all living things. It reminds us of the responsibility of helping one another regardless of ethnicity or colour of our skin.
 
With palms together and Namo Amida Butsu,
 
Tatsuya Aoki
Bishop, Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada
青木龍也


MESSAGE ON RACIAL INJUSTICE

The blue flowers emit a blue light; the yellow flowers emit a yellow light; the red flowers emit a red light; and the white flowers emit a white light. Each of the lotus flowers glows, weaving a harmonic scene while emitting a subtle fragrance. Shariputra, Pure Land is an ideal environment so that whatever one lays eyes upon will bring about awakening.
Kue Issho: meet together in the same work -Amida Sutra
The recent tragic deaths of George Floyd, Raychard Brooks, and Chantel Moore has sparked a conversation around the world. It has brought the topic of racism to the forefront. I believe there is a great need to focus our attention and efforts on the pervasive and ongoing violence inflicted on people of colour in our society.

In this present life, even though we live on the same planet, we live in different worlds. The colour of our skin, and where we live - each of us is sheltered in our own world. We set up our own “selves.” We take advantage of others when it benefits us. However, if the relationship with others becomes inconvenient, we withdraw again into our own world of “self” where we can avoid or reject others.

Until we can rid ourselves of the attachment to our small ‘selves’, we will live in a divided world. The Amida Sutra says that when we encounter the mind of Amida Buddha and are born in his Pure Land, for the first time we can “meet together in the same world” (kue issho). When we encounter Amida Buddha’s mind, or when we have heard Amida Buddha’s calling, our birth together on the same lotus flower will be realized.

In response to tragedy, grief, and anger, our collective aspiration within the Buddhist traditions is to become truly inclusive and live harmoniously. Buddhist teachings and practices have been explicitly devoted to liberation. May these teachings and practices free our hearts from greed, prejudice, and hate and serve an essential role in societal healing, and in the awakening of all.

Namo Amida Butsu

Tatsuya Aoki
Office of the Bishop
Jodo Shinsu Buddhist Temples of Canada
青木龍也

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