Thoughts on the 110th Anniversary of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada
The popularity of Buddhism is growing. The Buddhist group or kyodan of Jodo Shinshu in Canada, however, is rapidly declining in the number of members across Canada. Some leaders worry about the finances of the kyodan. Some people, on the other hand, quote the following words of Rennyo:
“The flourish of Buddhist organization is not determined by the number of followers but it is determined by the addition of even one who has acquired entrusting heart-shijin.”
Master Rennyo (1415-1499)
It is true to say that in a religious organization, quality is more important than quantity. But what would happen if we lost quality as well as quantity of the kyodan?
Actually, when Rennyo said these words, the temples of the Hongwanji were always full of followers to listen to the teachings. The donations made to the Hongwanji out of their gratitude for the benevolence of the Buddha were flowing in. He dedicated all his life to share the teaching with others. His enthusiasm led the kyodan both quality and quantity.
One time in Japan, there was a large and well-known Buddhist temple with many ministers and laypeople working. But it faced a financial crisis. Actually it was driven toward bankruptcy. The leaders of the temple got together each night and discussed how to get out of this critical situation but they could not find a solution. Finally, they decided to ask a prominent minister outside their temple to handle the situation. The minister who was asked declined the offer because he was not a financial consultant and had never been involved in such a situation. He was not a politician either. But because of many strong and recurring requests from the temple he finally consented to take the position for just one year.
From the first day, the minister started the morning service with a dharma talk. He asked all the other ministers and lay people who were working for the temple to come to the main hall and started to deliver the dharma talk by himself. After the morning service, he unfailingly asked the other ministers and lay people whether they attended the service and understood what he had said. Those who made excuses for not attending could not do so any longer. Attendees for the services gradually increased. They listened to his dharma talk carefully. What the minister kept saying to the temple leaders was, “Don’t worry about money but rather worry whether you really have an 'entrusting mind'." He had a strong conviction that the donations would naturally come to the temple out of gratitude for the benevolence of Buddha’s compassion.
Sure enough, the temple was able to escape from the financial crisis verging on bankruptcy within a year. “Enthusiasm” and “Entrusting heart” naturally strengthen our kyodan no matter what kind of hardships we face.
In Gassho, Rev. Yasuo Izumi Minister, Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta