Minister’s Message – August 2022

A compassionate mind is filled

With thoughts of others and

Moved to action.

~Rev. Dr. Seigen Yamaoka

When we turn on the news, there is something that adds to our worries. There is now a new variant more contagious than the original Covid, massive shootings due to ignorance and senseless hate, wars and now we are faced with drought in California.

We try to do our part to help control the situation. We take precautions; try to treat others with compassion and wisdom, and conserve on our water use. We actively do our part, yet the stress continues to add up.

Worry upon worry, stress upon stress, when and where will it ever end? One would think that as we mature we could relax and enjoy our time. Yet, there is always something that trespasses on our tranquility that causes chaos.

Have you ever thought about where the compassion and wisdom have vanished?  The Buddha teaches about being kind and gentle, protecting those weaker than ourselves, try to have good thoughts, using our words in a kind and gentle way, and doing good deeds for others. Yet there are so many who ignore these simple basic teachings.

I understand that not everyone is a Buddhist, but we are all taught lessons in our childhood. We treat others the way we want to be treated. However, there are those who are grumpy, seem to be angry at the world, and complain ALL the time, but perhaps a kind gesture or a gentle word may soothe the ugly beast within them.

Unfortunately, we all know individuals like these. I once lived next door to a person who hated diversity and change. This neighbor wanted the area to stay the same. My neighbor would yell at people for walking on the parkway or call the police about a car parked in front of the house. My neighbor called people names and accused neighbors of letting their dogs waste on the property. Everyone in the neighborhood did not like this person and knew of the ugliness inside.

It was my older brother who reminded me of very simple solutions. It was treating this person with compassion and wisdom. With every special dinner I held, I told my neighbor about the dinner, assured that person that no one would park in front of the house or walk on the parkway. We always shared the special dinner and hopefully “fed the anger” away. When it snowed, the front sidewalks and the walk leading to the neighbor’s house would be cleaned and shoveled, even if I had to shovel every hour.

Eventually my neighbor’s temperament eased temporarily and the next time we would ease the anger again. We were eating, so what is another plate? However through all this suffering, there was a positive side to my neighbor’s anger. My neighbor kept the neighborhood safe. My neighbor called the police about the rental house across the street to find out that they were actually using the house to distribute and sell illegal drugs and my neighbor was able to put a stop to that. My neighbor became a hero, for a short time. We found a positive in the situation.

Only if we could all receive some compassion and kindness during this time, maybe we can start to feel less stressful. Yet, there is a temporary solution readily available. It is our Nembutsu, Namu Amida Butsu in thankfulness, gratitude and appreciation. There are compassionate people out there and we can be so appreciative of their concern. It is being grateful for the teachings that we can utilize in time of stress and worry. We can hope that our action of compassion will begin to share “a taste” of our teachings with others.

Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano

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