Under the guidance of Shinran Shonin’s teachings,
We will strive to receive Amida Buddha’s aspiration
That all beings will live a life of true happiness, and
Follow the path together to realize a society in which
Everyone is able to live a life of spiritual fulfillment.
~Excerpt from The BWA Creed
A long-standing tradition of any Buddhist Women’s Association (BWA) is to take food to the families who have lost a loved one. The family’s grief is heavy and their minds are elsewhere. During this time, there are so many things the family must do to prepare. The meal is a simple affair. It is food that is easy to warm up and hopefully, it helps to gather friends and family as One. This gesture is our dana of selfless giving. We ask for nothing in return and offer this meal to help those in need.
At one time the BWA was called Fujinkai. This association composed of mainly older women of the church, but when the younger generation came in, they did not want to be categorized as such. This is what we call change, yet it does not matter what one calls this association, this organization is still the “backbone” of the church.
We see the effort of many people by our otoki after Shotsuki Hoyo or monthly memorial service. Our “light luncheon” at Guadalupe is always a feast and an invitation to all the members and our guests who come to the service. Our guests become a part of our Sangha, even if it is for one Sunday.
One Sunday, we had a guest who stayed for our otoki. We had curry and she never had it before. She loved it. She left happy, smiling, filled with the Dharma and friendship. Another favorite of the Sangha is hot dog otoki. One can have it with chili and cheese, or with relish and onions, smothered with ketchup and mustard. One can have it any way they like. However, it does take effort and patience on the women who shop and prepare the meal. We share our Namu Amida Butsu to them for always following the teachings. If one leaves hungry, it is no one’s fault, but one’s own.
Time has changed the tradition of a “woman’s only” association. We include the “male folk” in our otoki preparation. They may do the barbeque or help to wash dishes. These women and men contribute with their hearts and generosity. It is a community of same-minded Sangha who give and share. They assure us of a fine meal. The otoki takes time and effort on everyone’s part. We do it because it is our way of sharing the dharma, nourishment, and friendship.
It is truly the sight of this meal that brings a smile and joy to our hearts. It is the same delight when we begin to hear and understand what Namu Amida Butsu means for us. We only have to let go of our ego and be open to changes and adventures. The otoki at Guadalupe is truly a spectacular event that is filled with the teachings of the Nembutsu. We put our palms together in Gassho in offering our gratitude and thankfulness in the compassion of Buddha for the men and women who have no bounds and allow us to share the Dharma.
Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano