Minister’s Message – August 2021

One moment can change a day,

One day can change a life,

And one life can change the world.

~Words of the Buddha

The word “change” is a simple six-letter word. It is a short word, but it is a very difficult action to achieve. As a verb, it is to make someone or something different, alter or make modifications. It also means to replace something with something else. This may entail replacing something of the same kind that is newer or better. It is to substitute one thing for another. As a noun, “change” means an act or instance of making or becoming different. We have “loose change” in our wallets.

As a verb, it is to modify our opinions, alter in shape, color, and form. While at a signal, we wait for the red light to change to green or we have a change of mind or opinion. We can take a certain liquid and with a process we can change it into a gaseous form. We change clothes or change a baby’s diaper. This is basically an action that has been a regular routine.

However as a noun, it means to become different or substitute one thing to another. It can be a new or refreshing different experience, such as exchanging our white rice for brown rice. No matter how we use this word “change,” at times it is a difficult action on our part.

Change is difficult. We get comfortable in our ways and friends and refuse to accept that there is so much more around us. Maybe it is because it can be scary or we do not know what the results will be. Yet, the Buddha has taught the principle of impermanence that nothing stays the same and everything is in a constant flux of change. We have to take that first step into the unknown to see what there is and if we find it too difficult we can always go back into our comfort zone. But at least, we can say we tried.

I bring up the word “change” because things have changed in the temple. We have not come back as the same person. We have had to take extra precautions on how we conduct service. Let’s face it; masks are now a regular part of our wardrobe. We have had to take extra precautions of washing our hands more often or use a hand sanitizer. Our incense is now packaged into tiny envelopes. We have to do these little things to stay healthy and safe.

However, we find it so difficult to accept these changes of how we conduct services or how we accept new ideas and people in our Sangha. Are our egos standing in the way of getting to know other people or thinking? Are we afraid that others will alter our thinking or our personality? I just cannot understand why we cannot listen to new ideas or the acceptance of newcomers to the church.

We have to begin to “think outside the box.” Lately I sense that our Sangha has changed. We tend to ignore others and stop listening. Have we stopped listening to the teachings? The Golden Chain teaches to be kind and gentle, protect, to think, to say and to do. Yet it feels as though we have stopped listening and we ignore what the teachings are.

It is Namu Amida Butsu/Nembutsu that gives us direction and guidance, yet sometimes it seems we have forgotten. We are letting our egos lead us and we have stopped thinking and hearing. Yet it is Namu Amida Butsu that can lead us back to hearing, listening, and our friendliness. But we have to truly look within ourselves to understand why these “changes” are so difficult.

Stay well, hope to see you all soon and take care.

Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano


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