Minister’s September 2016 Message

A good life is when you assume

Nothing, do more, need less,

Smile often. Dream big. Laugh

A lot, and realize how blessed

You are.


I just returned from vacation and it feels as though as if I need another vacation. I came back exhausted, but it was a good visit. I did not get to see the people who I wanted to see yet, that are what phones are for. My family did gather at my brother’s 100th day service and felt good to see everyone there.

My sister, her husband, and I met with friends in New Mexico. We went to Santa Fe Indian Market, Taos, and Albuquerque. We got to see a college roommate who still lives on the Acoma Pueblo Indian Reservation. She was the reason for traveling to New Mexico.

We took a tour of the Acoma Pueblo “holy home.” This reservation is very old and on holy days they still live in traditional manners. They have their everyday homes with indoor toilets, running water, electricity, and all the amenities of home; however, they also have their ancestral pueblo. At the ancestral home, the water must be brought up to the pueblo and only kerosene lamps are used. There is no electricity and refrigeration is non-existent.  Propane is used for cooking. It is a feeling of “going back” in time to give back to the ancestors and to share time with each other.

On “holy days” they go to the pueblo. There is no cell phone reception or computers are never used. All holy days are closed to non-Pueblo. All the generations return and learn of their belief and culture. It is a time to educate the young ones of customs and rituals. They want the generations to know who and what they are. It is a time to gather as family and the spiritual leaders of the tribe come and bless the family and home. Our friend is blessed for her nephew was chosen as a spiritual leader and we had the privilege of meeting him on that day. He made a special visit to meet us.

This spiritual leader must leave his family for three years. During his training, he is not to be hugged and he cannot hug anyone, including his children. If his children see him, they cannot call him “Daddy” or run to him. The relatives and his children must use his given spiritual name. This would be calling a minister by their Buddhist name. However, after the third year, he is able to take a little break and visit with his family. It is a privilege and honor to be a spiritual leader but his dedication is to his group of people, while still having a family of his own.

In some respects this is like a Buddhist minister’s life, a responsibility not only to their own family but also to a Sangha. Sometimes the ministers are called to be elsewhere. Depending on the area, a Buddhist minister may have to travel a great distance to administer to a Sangha and its members, in the Pueblo culture, it is an honor to guide and direct his people, in Jodo Shinshu we are fortunate for our isolation from the family lasts only ten days of strenuous ritual practice and learning. After ordinations, it is back to being ordinary people that involves thought, compassion, and wisdom for members.

Whether we are a Pueblo spiritual leader or a Buddhist minister, the responsibilities are the same. We continue to grow as a minister while directing and guiding others, Sangha members are of all levels. Some have read, practiced other sects, or have never attended a Buddhist temple. I see it as a good thing. The curious come and want to hear. Vacation was thrilling but tiring and it is back to work as usual. Namu Amida Butsu to all. It is good to be back, sleeping in my own bed and seeing familiar faces.

Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano

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