Happy New Year! 2018 was a very eventful year. Thank You to everyone for helping to making it so memorable for the Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. I look forward to a Wonderful 2019! A little while ago, our temple hosted the Southern District Conference at the Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. Our theme was “The Social Face of Buddhism.” For those who attended, I hope you enjoyed yourself while learning, and for those that helped at the event, thank you for your hard work and support.
The initial thought behind this topic was to introduce how we are viewed as Buddhists from other perspectives. Are we pacifists? Are we activists? Do people still consider us Buddhist when we do no practice? Or are we living a way of life? As time passed, we wanted the attendees to come to the realization that all life is Different. All life is Unique. All life is Equal. We brought some great presenters together. They were kind and compassionate enough to share their lives, their struggles, how they managed them, and how we can understand. In the end, we all have struggles. It causes me to think about Amida’s vows from the Juseige, Verse 2 and 3.
I will be the greater provider
Throughout innumerable kalpas.
Should I fail to save all in need,
I would never attain Enlightenment.
Upon my attaining Enlightenment,
If my Name were not heard anywhere
In the ten quarters of the universe,
I would never attain Enlightenment.
The Buddhist path of Amida, as stated in the first verse, is for everyone who needs it. We are fortunate enough to have been able to have heard the Name, Namu Amida Butsu, and have already seen its effect. We are able to apply the teachings to ourselves and say that this is a true influence in our life because we are accepted as we are. The Nembutsu teaching is not just for us alone or for people, but for all sentient beings. Even though we know this, we continue everyday thinking that we are individuals and separate. All living being on this earth have their problems and difficulties. Please think of this fact throughout your daily lives and act accordingly.
This conference allowed us to learn about others. More importantly it helped us to see beyond our own perceptions, and learn how difficult it can be. Do not use stereotypes, but see that each person has their own story. We were given the opportunity to receive great compassion through the sharing of their knowledge and experiences. For us, Namu Amida Butsu allows us to calm our minds. It allows us to look within ourselves and reflect.
My wish for this 2019 is for us all to share our true stories. While we have the opportunity to share many life experiences at the temple help others through the incite we have gained on this path of Nembutsu. Even if we are not Buddhist minded, let us share what we have been given as the influences that make us who we are, and view them as a gift that many of us have been able to receive. This is the Heart of the Buddha. This is the Heart of our grandparents, parents, siblings, and friends. This is the Heart of our Community and the Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. We are all part of this world. Let us accept our own faults and share the Light of Wisdom and Compassion we are constantly receiving.
For the Jodo Shinshu Followers, the Social Face of Buddhism is for us to see how our perceptions and judgments of others cloud the truth. This truth like the conference showed us that we are the ones that need help and compassion. If those people were not willing to share their life’s struggles and experiences, we would not have been able grow. We receive the Light of Amida in the same way which brightens within so we can see. It is Buddha’s wish for us to find settlement in this life through the Vow or the Buddha’s Heart. We can look around and accept this wish to live a True and Real life which gives us Pure Joy. We can deeply appreciate these efforts by continuing to be honest, humble, and sincere. As we take our next steps into 2019, let us make the Buddha’s Heart and Wish Our Own, let us not forget to share, and let us not squander the brief moments that can change a life or make it truly meaningful for everyone. With palms together in Gassho:
As the sun shines on the earth, awakening into growth the seeds that lie dormant in the soil, may the Light of Wisdom shine into our minds and truly awaken us to our limitations and by this insight stir us to strive for a life of deeper understanding. May the light of Compassion warm the innate humanity in our hearts that we may truly appreciate and respect the intrinsic value and dignity of all life. May the light of Truth cast its splendor upon the minds and hearts that they may continue to guide this temple and the world with great Wisdom and deep Compassion.
May this same Light of Wisdom shine upon us all, giving us the insight to realize that all life is One, that we may constantly strive for the well-being of not only of ourselves but also of all people everywhere.
Namu Amida Butsu
Rev. Kory Quon
Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple