Happy Summer, Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple Family! Thank You for Your continued support with the upcoming Venice Japanese Community Center Festival (6.22-23) and our own Obon Festival (7.22-23). We are all part of this community and I look forward to seeing and working with all of you. It not only brings us all together, but also reinforces our mission as Buddhists to work create peace within through our shared experiences. Gassho.
This past April, my family and I were able to take a last-minute trip to visit family in Hawaii. There was one point during this vacation that my wife and I found ourselves without our children, and in this quiet time, the above question came to me. I thought about what makes a vacation. I thought of past generations and their road trips to camping sites or fishing locations. I came to believe that it is the family that makes it important. I think for some people, it’s now where you go or what you do that makes the trip. These trips are missing what is meaningful, the interaction. That is what makes being at the temple so Great: it is the interactions and experiences we are able to share as an extended family unit. In many cases, we would not have in other circumstances. Then I thought about the meaning of this trip and location. Does the location really matter? Of course not. So now, with no kids and apart from the family. I had to ask myself… What do I do with myself?
How do you spend your lazy days? We have to first think about what this question is really asking: What do you do you consider to be a lazy day? Is it your day off? If you get Saturdays or Sundays off, do you think of these days off as opportunities to be “lazy”? I remember when growing up, I did not want to get up on Saturday mornings, but my mom treated our lazy day as a chance to wake us up with the sound of the vacuum and a call for our bed sheets. Then there was the rush to make a practice, a game, or an activity. Is this your understanding of a day of rest, a lazy day, or a day off, too? As I reflected on these “relaxing” days of the past, it caused me to think of how we spend this valuable time.
I hope in many of this temple’s articles you have asked yourself “where is this going? And more importantly, so true.” I have often heard that people do not attend temple for reasons like: “It is our day of rest. We have other obligations. There is nothing the temple offers for us until we have children.” This is your choice, but let us start with “Buddhism is for you.” As Buddhists, it is really not an issue of how you choose to live your life. The more important issue is how you have internalized the teachings and use them. Nembutsu is the path to finding our true self and becoming settled.
We who aspire for Amida’s fulfilled land,
Though we differ in outward condition and conduct,
Should truly receive the Name of the Primal Vow
And never forget it, whether waking or sleeping. Shinran Shonin
In this passage by Shinran Shonin, it says that everyone who wants to looks to the Pure Land is within the workings of Amida Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life. The light allows us to always receive the Buddha’s wisdom and compassion. The Primal Vow is the vow made for all beings or infinite life to attain Enlightenment. Jodo Shinshu allows us to live our lives separate from practice. Through the Buddha’s vow or wish, we are always supported by just saying the Name, Namo Amida Butsu (I think about the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life or Wisdom and Compassion). The last line “and never forget it, whether waking or sleeping.” This mean that we are never disconnected from what the Buddha is trying to help us achieve. With this in mind, a “Lazy Day” in our tradition is a day that we are not using the teachings to guide us on how we interact in the world.
If everyone, no matter where you are, keeps this in Amida mind and uses the Nembutsu (Nen: to contemplate, Butsu: Buddha) teaching throughout their day, then there is no need for anything else. But if you find that you are guided by other factors and values motivated by greed, anger, and ignorance, then come to center yourself again at the temple. Do not be lazy and drift away from your path to Enlightenment.
[Amida] Buddha, in the causal stage, made the universal Vow:
When beings hear my Name (Namo Amida Butsu) and think on me, I will come to welcome each of them,
Not discriminating at all between the poor and the rich and wellborn,
Not discriminating between the inferior and the highly gifted;
Not choosing the learned and those upholding pure precepts,
Nor rejecting those who break precepts and whose evil karma is profound.
When beings just turn about at heart and often say the nembutsu,
It is as if bits of rubble were turned into gold.
If you truly use Amida’s effort and realize the wish for every single living being, help to share it with others by taking the opportunity to come together in a spirit of oneness. Let us all work diligently to provide others with this realization of what we have already received and are not aware of. Last year, during this time of year in reference to Obon, a leader of our temple said the following: “If you look at it as work, it will be work.” Knowing his heart, he was trying to say that VJCC Festival, Obon, and Mochi Tsuki are the rare times that our Venice family gets together and we share this time to live within the radiant light and life of what we know as Temple Life. It is the time where he sees his children and grandchildren of the Venice Community. Let us all hear his words. Let us all hear the Buddha’s call to each of us as warm hello, hand, or hug. Let our minds of selfish desires and rubble turn into hearts of gold and Nembutsu. Let us all turn our Lazy Days into Golden Days of Light.
Rev. Kory Quon
Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple