Minister’s November 2016 message
I rely on the Sangha. May I, along with all sentient beings,
Become one Sangha of life, able to move forward and live
With a dynamic spirit that is hindered by nothing.
Excerpt from Three Treasures
There is an old adage that says there is strength in numbers. This is not just quantity but in quality. At Guadalupe Buddhist Church, our membership is slowly decreasing but the number of members we do have demonstrate strength and community. This sense of community shows itself in many ways and especially when we have omigaki.
Omigaki is a time when we clean and buff the items on the inner shrine or onaijin. Many of the items are very intricate and take a lot of “elbow grease.” Some parts are very heavy but we manage somehow. There is a community that takes pride in their shrine. Individuals, families, or organizations have donated the items and we care for our onaijin. We clean to share our appreciation and to give thanks to the many who wanted the Dharma to continue for the generations to come.
Our onaijin is of beauty and it takes a Sangha to keep it that way. During the cleaning, there is socialization and the closeness of relationships among those who come. Like in life, it is not always calm but it still gets done. At Guadalupe Buddhist Church, we always have snacks or a meal and that is important to keep our energy up. Similar to the Dharma, this food we share also nourishes our body as well as our hearts and minds.
Imagine watching a boat race. There is a team consisting of oars men and women, a leader and a person who steers the boat. The leader keeps the team’s spirit up and helps to keep the pace. The oars people listen and work together to paddle the boat to the finish line. What would happen if one oars person quit and decided to take a nap?
Well it would slow the pace, anger the other teammates and they may lose the race. However, if everyone works as One and the pace is steady and even, the race can be won. Yes, the pace of the race is strenuous but it is also easier to work as a team. This is similar to our church. Everyone has a part in the functioning of furthering and continuing the teachings. We are a team to ensure the continuum of the Dharma.
The church has been in service for over 100 years, and it is still viable and precious. This November we will be observing Eitaikyo, translated as a “perpetual memorial service.” It was members who looked toward to the future so that the younger generations would have a church to call their own. They wanted others to continue hearing the Dharma. How can we ever repay these people who gave so selflessly and generously?
These members ask for only one thing. They ask that we continue to hear and listen to the Buddha’s teachings and in appreciation to Shinran Shonin for making the Dharma accessible to us. Even in this day and age, we have Nembutsu. Our way of repayment is to deepen our entrusting or reliance on the Buddha. We extend our gratitude in working together, deepening our entrusting and in our Namu Amida Butsu. We are a Sangha consisting of teammates who work together. We take pride in our church and the onaijin.
We have many things to be grateful for. We as a Sangha share our generosity by working as individuals who become a functioning Sangha and learn to work as One with each other and Nembutsu. Our practice is in the form of demonstrating a working relationship so that we can continue to hear and to live a life of joy and happiness. When events turn toward the opposite, we have a place that gives comfort and guidance. We work as a Sangha to keep our church shining with the Buddha Dharma.
Wishing you all a Happy and safe Thanksgiving!
Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano