…Following the Teaching of the Buddha,
Discerning the Right Path.
I will share the True Dharma with all.
Rejoicing in the Compassion of the Buddha,
Respecting and aiding all sentient beings,
I will work towards the welfare of society and the world.
Excerpt form Shin Buddhist Life Principles
At Guadalupe Buddhist Church, our services are the first and third Sundays of each month. For a very long time the schedule had been once a month, then it was increased to twice a month. The first Sunday is not full, maybe just a handful of followers. Like all Sundays, the morning starts in the social hall with cups of coffee, and then moves into the hondo for the service.
As we sit with our coffee in the hall, we catch up on the latest news, family life, and what we have been doing. With all this news, we become re-connected to each other and their families. We also make decisions for the next service and it is this handful of followers, who make the choices of our otoki. We become a family in choosing our next time together.
It is through conversations and food that bring us closer together. Many of the followers have known each other for many years. Some taught Dharma School to their children and they remember the events they pursued. They expound on how they would pick up the children in their cars for service or the “road trips” they took to conferences. Many of our members have passed away and the children have moved for job opportunities.
However, it is a homecoming when the children return for a visit. We re-connect with them and develop a new/old relationship with them. Our temple is small, yet it continues with the same vitality as before. These followers assure our Namu Amida Butsu and us of a good service.
The otoki is a very important tradition for us. The “light luncheon” starts out small; however, by the time we are ready to serve, it has grown tenfold. It must be the “otoki fairy” that increases the volume of food while we sit in service. The otoki that is supposedly small and simple, results in a feast. We put our palms together in Gassho in gratitude for the kindness and compassion for those who continue to nourish our Nembutsu and feed our hearts and minds.
It is amazing how our bit of hospitality can ease the “newbies” tensions and how this home-style warmth surrounds those who enter the doors. Those “newbies” are not sure what to expect. They are hesitant and a bit nervous, but by the time they leave, they feel as though they have attended all their lives. We have made a connection with them and have now started a new relationship with their hearts and minds.
While feasting we develop an interconnection and interrelationship with each other and the “newbies.” We converse about their interests in Buddhism and why they have come. There are conversations about their careers and children. It is our warmth and compassion that continue to bring these people back.
Otoki is hard work but a work done with compassion and love. Without this bond of connectiveness and relationships, we could no longer exist as a temple. We serve with compassion and always for others who want to hear and learn of the Buddha Dharma. We connect with them with joy and happiness and our true commitment to Namu Amida Butsu.
Gassho Rev. Naomi Seijo Nakano