An Update on How the LDC Virtual Book Club Works

Hello everyone!

We are planning the reading and review of a book for the winter/spring 2017 time which will be “Buddhism of the Heart” by Jeff Wilson (ISBN 0-86171-583-7). Jeff Sensei is a Buddhist Scholar who teaches at a Canadian university. This book is insightful, thought provoking and quite humorous in spots.

Buddhism of the Heart: Reflections on Shin Buddhism and Inner Togetherness
by Jeff Wilson, Foreword by Taitetsu Unno

For a book preview please see:  http://www.wisdompubs.org/sites/default/files/preview/Buddhism%20of%20the%20Heart%20Book%20Preview.pdf

We will be starting this session on January 21, 2017, so if you would like to be involved with this book, be sure to pick up a copy, available through Chapters or Amazon  (also available in Kindle and Kobo versions) or from your local temple.

After feedback from the last book review, we have decided to use a Private “Google Group” to facilitate this next session. We believe this should make it easier for everyone to respond to and review everyone’s responses.  As this will be a private group, it will require you to have a “Google account” (with Gmail address) to participate.  There’s no charge to set up a Google account and Gmail address.

  • If you already have a Google account and have already provided us with your Gmail address, there’s nothing further you need to do until you receive your invite to join the group – Jan. 21st.
  • If you do have a Gmail address but didn’t provide it, please send it to:  bm.livingdharmacentre@gmail.com and to dorothy.gigliotti@gmail.com
  • If you do not have a Google account, please set one up at:  https://accounts.google.com/SignUp   and provide us (bm.livingdharmacentre@gmail.com and dorothy.gigliotti@gmail.com) with your new Gmail address.

Dorothy Gigliotti is assisting Barb MacCarl with the set up of the Group.  Please include her in any correspondence regarding your set up.  Dorothy can also be contacted, if you need further assistance to set up your Google account or participation in the group, by emailing her at dorothy.gigliotti@gmail.com.

Once you’ve set up a Google account and sent in your new Gmail address, the next step is to look for a Google group invite, which will be sent to you by email.  Follow the instructions to connect to the group and your journey will begin!!

This is a brand new year, let’s learn, grow and make the most of it together!

Gassho,

Barb MacCarl

Books and Education

Living Dharma Centre

Join Our Virtual Book Club! Second Title

 

A message from the Monshu of the Jodo Shinshu Faith

Today, according to my predecessor, Sokunyo Monshu’s wishes, I was inaugurated into the posts of Hongwanji jushoku, resident priest and Monshu of the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha institution. 
 
On this occasion, I would like to extend my deep gratitude to him for his many years of nurturing and guidance. At the same time, I acknowledge the monumental responsibility of succeeding the Jodo Shinshu tradition and am resolute in carrying out my duties to the best of my ability. 
 
The teaching on how we are saved by Amida Tathagata’s Primal Vow was set forth by Sakyamuni Buddha, and it was transmitted by the seven Pure Land masters to Shinran Shonin, who clarified it into the Dharma of Jodo Shinshu. That tradition has been passed down to us through the efforts of successive Monshu of Hongwanji, fellow Jodo Shinshu followers, and many people who have supported their work until today. In inheriting this illustrious tradition, I will exert every effort to convey the Dharma of Jodo Shinshu to the future. 
 
Looking back on the past, there were occasions during which the Hongwanji institution addressed some issues in ways that contradicted the Jodo Shinshu teaching, sometimes by not questioning or doubting some common practices that were accepted in the society during a certain era, and sometimes by having to make harsh decisions in order to enable the Hongwanji to survive. Learning from such history, we must constantly keep a careful eye on social conditions and ourselves so that we will never again indiscriminately accept common, popular behavior and tendencies of a particular time nor return to the kind of society that would compel us to make painfully bitter decisions again. 
 
In reflecting on the present circumstances of our organization, it is significantly important to consider how we can approach and reach out to persons who have never had any contact with a Buddhist temple, as well as those who are already involved with one. The nembutsu teaching that is based on Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow remains unchanged, regardless of the changing times and society.  
 
However, the methods for transmitting and sharing it needs to evolve and adapt according to social changes. Now is the time for our Hongwanji institution to utilize our collective wisdom and knowledge for considering approaches to convey the Buddha Dharma to our contemporaries today. 
 
There are also other numerous issues and problems that we must deal with, such as, “What is the most appropriate and effective manner we can offer support to the many victims and disaster-stricken locations of the East Japan Great Earthquake to facilitate their recovery?” 
 
Let us always keep in mind the venerable words, jishin kyo ninshin, “secure our own entrusting heart to the Dharma, guiding others to the same path” as we cope with the various problems and hardships of the contemporary world, walking together towards realizing a society in which everyone is equally respected. 
 
June 6, 2014 
 
Shaku Sennyo 
OHTANI Kojun 
Monshu 
Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha

Hello Everyone and Welcome to the Living Dharma Centre Virtual Book/Study Club!

The book that we have chosen for this first session, “Call of the Infinite”, is a short little book so we will have lots of time to read slowly and to ponder our responses. Discussion is through subscribed email from Barb MacCarl ( bm.livingdharmacentre@gmail.com ).  Please try to respond with your thoughts by the discussion dates given and we will all benefit by reading each other’s responses. If there are specific questions to someone, about something that is written by someone, if you are comfortable about it, please “Reply to All” so (once again) we can all benefit.

Also, please remember that this is the first year of this program and if you see how it could be streamlined or improved, please let us know! It is not too late to join us by signing up with Barb at: bm.livingdharmacentre@gmail.com.

It is with a great sense of gratitude (and privilege) to be able to have this opportunity to connect, share and learn with all of our Dharma Friends. We hope that you find this an enriching experience and one that strengthens your understanding of the Dharma….that wonderful Jewel of Light.

Gassho,

Barb MacCarl

Living Dharma Centre

bm.livingdharmacentre@gmail.com

Discussion Dates:

Chapter One    – Oct. 14

Chapter Two    – Oct. 28

Chapter Three – Nov. 18 (slightly longer due to Nov. long weekend)

Chapter Four    – Dec. 2

Below are the questions to consider as you read the first chapter:

CHAPTER ONE

– What does the fact of suffering in our lives tell us about ourselves as human beings?

– Is there a spiritual dimension to our experience of suffering?

– What can we conclude about life in light of our deepest longings and aspirations?

– In “The Essence of Buddhism” by D.T. Suzuki Lecture One, he states: “our daily experience acquires its true significance by being related to the spiritual order of existence, and that so long as we are not in touch with this order, what we conceive to be real is not at all real, as it cannot then have any more reality than a merely dreamy existence: it is only when the spiritual world impresses itself in a lively manner upon this world that the latter obtains a new value, making our life worth something….For the spiritual world is not other than the sense-world and the sense-world is no other than the spirit-world. There is one completely whole world”. In light of these comments and what you have read, which to you seems more real, the spirit world or sense world? Are they separate from each other or one and the same?

– Is it possible to speak of different kinds of truth? What distinguishes the notion of spiritual truth from other insights we have about the everyday world? Why might spiritual truth be considered more reliable as a guide to living our lives compared to truths about secular life?

JSBTC Day Message from JSBTC President Dave Ohori

Our Directors on the JSBTC Board as well as Bishop Aoki and Rev. Grant Ikuta (MA Chair) have been working very hard on the strategic planning for the future as well as on the day to day operations of the JSBTC. One of the major expenses is the medical, health and dental costs to ensure that our Ministers have adequate coverage. As each year passes, we seem to experience significant cost increases for this important coverage. As a Board, we have sent this coverage out for tender and also negotiated for better rates. The Board is always looking for cost reductions and wants to keep temple assessments to a minimum, however, this is becoming more difficult each year.

Our other option is to increase our revenues. JSBTC Day occurs only once each year. This is a day in which local temples designate a special day in their temple calendar for JSBTC Day where all donations from that day are sent to the JSBTC to be used for costs like benefits for our Ministers as well as to support the important and significant work for the kyodan by the Office of the Bishop.

Please remember that the JSBTC is a central organization which supports all Jodo Shinshu Temples across Canada. The organization works closely with the Office of the Bishop to help find and support new ministers for our kyodan which is ultimately a benefit to all member temples. Please take the time to consider donating to the JSBTC for the future of our kyodan and for the much needed and proper support for Ministers.

In Gassho,

Dave Ohori, JSBTC President

JSBTC Day Reminder on Procedures:

As in recent years, JSBTC is requesting local temples to collect donations for JSBTC Day in either October or early November. In order to comply with the new Canada Not for Profit Act, we are asking local temples to count the donations received, to receipt their members/donors and forward the proceeds with a list of the names and addresses of the donors as well as the amounts donated to JSBTC.

Donors should write their cheques payable to their local temple indicating “JSBTC Day” in the memo area of the cheque.

JSBTC Day Message “What is Dana?”

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I would like to express my most sincere appreciation to all the Jodo Shinshu Temples of Canada (JSBTC) ministers, ministers’ assistants, national board of directors, and all temple members and non-members for keeping our organization active and accessible.

In the early days, the temple was financed largely by donations called ‘dana’.  In Japanese, this is known as ofuse or orei.  Over the years, temple members established the tradition of donating money to the temple treasury for various occasions such as Buddhist holidays, family weddings, funerals, and memorial services.  As well, donations were offered for monthly memorial services (Shotsuki) as well as, for a wide variety of occasions, such as a return to good health, birth of children and grandchildren, graduation of children and grandchildren and for joyous events including return from trips abroad, etc.  In other words, the Issei tended to make donations to the temple on any occasion which they felt was meaningful to them.  The idea of a membership due or fee was not a consideration.

At all major events at a temple,there was always an uketsuke  or reception table where donation envelopes were received and duly recorded.  Relying entirely on personal donations  meant no fixed fees for services rendered.  As a member became more active and involved the more the member understood the ofuse/orei system.  The prevailing attitude was, therefore, one of offering a donation as a token of one’s appreciation and gratitude, rather than  one of paying a fee for specific services rendered.

As the nisei and sansei generation gradually took responsibility in managing the temple, the idea of membership dues became more popular.  There was growing frustration not knowing how much one should donate for weddings, memorial services, etc.  Thus, today we are torn between two ways of thinking; between the dana/ ofuse system and a set price system for services rendered.  There has been reluctance in abandoning the ofuse system.  To do so would reduce the temple to a place of business with set fees for individual services. The consequence of this would eliminate the spirit of dana, an important fundamental of Buddhist practice.  In short, the difference between ofuse versus set fees

is attitude.  For buddhists, in particular Japanese buddhists, a person’s attitude in society  has always been considered  very meaningful and significant.  There is a prevailing view that it is not the amount that is significant, but rather the spirit in which it is given.  Therefore, a donation has no fixed amount but rather depends on what the giver wishes or can afford to give.  This can be confusing to someone who is unfamiliar with the ways of the temple.  And while it is not as efficient as a so-called “price list” it is in keeping with the spirit of dana.

Ofuse in Japanese consists of two Chinese characters.  O-fu means “to spread”, and se means “giving charity”.    Dana or ofuse gives one an opportunity to practice gratitude, which arises from the awareness of the inter-relationship of all sentient beings.

The temple, after all, is not a gas station where one fills up with spirituality for the rest of the week at so many cents per liter.  It is a living organization, not a mechancal machine.  For this reason, temple life is to be valued because it is not ‘business-like”, efficient or even useful.  We need not make perfect manju to sell, because we are not in the manju business. Every helper, whether they are experienced or not, is able to help make manju.  They donate their time for the sake of the temple. The temple is involved in the business of getting human beings to be more ‘truly human’, to get them to see who they truly are, what their true nature is and to be transformed by that Truth.  To bend religion to suit our own needs is to miss the point of religion.  Religion essentially transforms us to see the Truth.  We are not here to transform religion to suit our needs.

Namo Amida Butsu,

Tatsuya Aoki,

Bishop, Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada

JSBTC Updates: September 2016

JSBTC AGM 2016 Hosted by Manitoba Buddhist Temple

Sincere thanks and appreciation are extended to all the members and supporters of MBT for hosting such a wonderful AGM.  The organizers at MBT all did a great job to ensure a very successful AGM.  Important work was conducted over the course of the AGM and a true sense of sangha community was experienced by all in attendance.  In addition, all attendees were able to join in the celebration of MBT’s 70th anniversary. Thank you, MBT!

JSBTC Day 2016

This is a reminder that JSBTC Day is normally held at each temple in the months of October or early November.

As in recent years, JSBTC is requesting local temples to collect donations for JSBTC Day.  In order to comply with the new Canada Not For Profit Act, we are asking local temples to count the donations received, to receipt their members/donors and forward the donations with a list of the names and addresses of the donors as well as the amounts donated to JSBTC in a secure manner. Donors should write their cheques payable to their local temple indicating “JSBTC Day” in the memo area of the cheque. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

2016 Gomonshu Accession Ceremony and Shinran Shonin Pilgrimage Trip to Japan

Rev. Grant Ikuta will be leading the 2016 JSBTC Trip to Japan for the Gomonshu’s Accession Ceremony and associated pilgrimage to key Shinran Shonin sites.  Dates for the tour are October 10-23.

2016-jsbtc-directors

Officers and Directors of the JSBTC Board

Shortly after the AGM 2016 official proceedings, the following officers were appointed to JSBTC Board Executive Positions:

President:  Dave Ohori

Vice President:  Larry Wakisaka

Treasurer:  Greg Chor

Secretary:  Debra Campbell

In addition, Amy Wakisaka was re-appointed as LDC Program Director

Other Directors Serving on the JSBTC Board are:

Director: Trudy Gahlinger

Director:  Dr. Roland Ikuta

Director:  Harvey Kaita

Director:  Kent MacCarl

Director:  Laura Sugimoto

Director:  Amy Wakisaka

JSBTC Board Advisors:

Bishop Tatsuya Aoki

Rev. Grant Ikuta  (MA Chair)

JSBTC and WF AGM 2017

Our next AGM is scheduled to be held at the Toronto Buddhist Church during the period April 21-23, 2017 so please keep these dates open in your calendar!  Pre-AGM meetings for the Ministerial Association, JSBTC Board, LDC and Ministerial Retirement Fund Trustees will be held prior to the official AGM. Details will be announced in ample time prior to the AGM

Our Shrine at JSBTC Headquarters in Richmond, B.C.

Note:  Roy Akune Sensei of Steveston Buddhist Temple has kindly written a history of our shrine at JSBTC Headquarters which is located in Richmond, B.C.

Thanks are extended to Roy for compiling this historical information and for his permission to make this available to all temples across our Canadian Kyodan.

We thought that this important historical shrine would be of interest to our sangha community across Canada.

History of the Shrine at the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada (JSBTC) Headquarters

shrineThe Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada (JSBTC) has in their possession a shrine that has historical significance in the annals of Nishi Hongwanji-Ha and is certainly worthy of note.

In 1996, Steveston Buddhist Temple donated the shrine to the newly built JSBTC Headquarters at 11786 Fentiman Place in Richmond B.C.  The shrine became available after the Steveston Buddhist Temple had installed their custom designed shrine befitting the architecture of their temple in 1980.  The shrine remained in storage from 1980-1996.

The shrine was originally built for and belonged to Otani Kozui (1876-1948), 22nd Abbott of the Nishi Hongwanji-Ha in Kyoto, Japan.  Otani Kozui succeeded his father Otani Koson in 1903.  In assuming the position as the religious head of the Jodo Shinshu organization, he continued to pursue the investigation, exploration and excavation of Buddhist sites for Buddhist artifacts, treasures and Sutras in Central Asia.  Prior to this appointment he had studied in England and developed a passion for archaeology, particularly in Central Asia.  He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Because Chinese Central Asia had once played a decisive role in the eastward spread of Buddhism, His Eminence’s objective was to explore and excavate this region with the eyes of a Buddhist follower, especially seeking old Sutras.  He found well known translations of the Lotus Sutra and the Contemplation Sutra.  He organized three Central Asian exploration parties during the period from 1902 to 1913.  His explorations included Dunhuang, Turfan, Laulan, Tibet and other countries.  (Reference: “Japanese Spies Along Silk Road” by Imre Galambose).

Regarding the origin of this shrine, one thought is that this shrine was designed and constructed for Otani Kozui as a personal shrine for his residences during his three expeditions which he had organized for Central Asia and had it returned to Japan as part of the shipment of the Buddhist treasures and artifacts.  This treasure may have been one of 9,000 items found in Tokyo National Museum, Kyoto National Museum, Ryukoku University and Otani University and other museums and institutions.  In fact, the shrine was built for him when he set up residence in Shanghai during his voluntary exile after his resignation as the Abbott of the Nishi Hongwanji.  The shrine was the personal belonging of His Eminence, Otani Kozui.  His resignation was prompted by his alleged over-indulgence in financing the three Central Asian explorations and the construction of his magnificent residence, Villa Niraku (1909-1932) in Kobe, Japan.  He was succeeded by his nephew Otani, Kosho.

This shrine became available to the Steveston Buddhist Temple through the efforts of Rev. Shinjo Ikuta, resident minister (1954-1958) and his wife, Mrs. Mino Ikuta.  They had become aware of the availability of the shrine through their acquaintance, Mrs. Moto Tanaka, head nurse at the Asoka Hospital in Tokyo.  Mrs. Tanaka’s son-in-law, who served as the personal physician for Otani Kozui in Shanghai, was aware of this shrine and had informed his mother-in-law.  Arrangements were made to have the shrine brought back to Japan by the personal physician. Indeed, without the efforts and arrangements made by these principals, the shrine with such historical significance would not have become available.  Mrs. Teruko Ikuta, wife of the late Rev. Kyojo Ikuta, was also instrumental in providing significant information.

Through the efforts of Rev. and Mrs. Ikuta, the shrine was obtained by the Steveston Buddhist Temple and has now found its roots in the present location.

With the re-location of the shrine in 1996 at the JSBTC Headquarters, the 1,000 pieces were re-assembled by Mr. Masafumi Yamamoto of Yamamoto Butsuguten of Kyoto.

This shrine is indeed a heritage item and worthy of note to Jodo Shinshu followers.

In Gassho,

Roy Akune Sensei

Virtual Book Club starting this fall

The LDC (Living Dharma Centre) is starting a Virtual Book Club this fall.  We invite interested people to read a specific book chosen every three months and sign up for email participation and discussion.  To start up our Virtual Book Club, our first titles for the month of September, October and November are:

1)  River of Fire, River of Water   By  Taitetsu Unno

2)  Call of the Infinite  By John Paraskevopoulos

For our first selection of our new book club, we have chosen two titles.  Both are excellent introductions to Shin Buddhism and are easily understandable.  These books are available through Chapters Indigo and Amazon.

River of Fire, River of Water was published in 1998 and speaks for itself as being a classic in Shin Buddhism literature.  Written by  the wonderful teacher and Shin Scholar, Tai Unno, if you have not already read it, we encourage you to!

Call of the Infinite was first published in 2009 and the following are a few comments made by people who have read it:

“Call of the Infinite  is a rare and lovely thing: a succinct treatment in 96 pages of the major concerns of Shin faith and life which manages to be compelling for all its brevity.  Author John Paraskevopoulos is an Australian convert who is also a Shin priest.  He has the marvellous ability to anticipate a reader’s questions and answer them in straightforward fashion in a clear, lively prose.”

“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Call of the Infinite to one who has no previous background in Shin Buddhism.  I feel confident that such a reader could then go on to the more fully-orbed works of such established writers as Alfred Bloom, Dennis Hirota, Kenneth Tanaka, and Taitetsu Unno. ” – Peter M. Schogol

“This is a deeply thoughtful work and is a mature and useful guide for the spiritually hungry or perplexed.  It is brief, but not epigramic; each paragraph gives the reader plenty to contemplate, but the meaning is always clear.  The book is written in beautifully constructed English – not something one can take for granted in any published work.  It is also cleverly and clearly structured.” – M.F. Healsmith

If you have any question or to sign up for discussion emails please contact Barb MacCarl at: bm.livingdharmacentre@gmail.com.

Meditation and Mindfulness with Ray Nakano

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We are happy to announce that the meditation sessions led by Ray Nakano are continuing in the fall.  The meditation sessions are for two hours at the Hamilton Buddhist Temple located at the Canadian Japanese Cultural Centre.

When: Every 1st and 3rd Tuesday evening starting in September, 2016, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Where: Hamilton Buddhist Temple located at the Canadian Japanese Cultural Centre, 45 Hempstead Drive, Hamilton
Ray Nakano has been an active member of the Hamilton Buddhist Temple and has been practising meditation for the past 8 years.
Since retiring from the Ontario Government, he has spent a lot of his time volunteering for various organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the Toronto Green Community and 350.org, an organization building a global climate movement.  In addition, Ray is also an active participant and facilitator with the Mindfulness Practice Community of Toronto.
THE TWO HOUR SESSION WILL INCLUDE:

Guided Sitting Meditation
Silent Walking Meditation
Silent Sitting Meditation
Dharma Talk
Dharma Sharing
Please arrive at least 15 minutes early in order to allow time for “settling in” so the session can begin promptly at 7:00 pm.
If you have any questions please email Ray at ray_nakano@hotmail.com.

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WHAT IS SITTING MEDITATION?

Stillness. Sitting meditation is like returning home to give full attention to and care for ourselves.  Like the Buddha, we too can radiate peace and stability.  We sit upright with serenity, and return to our breathing.  We are able to maintain a relaxed and upright position when our posture is stable.  Using the right cushion or chair will enable us to be steady by allowing our weight to be balanced and supported on three points: our buttocks and our two knees.  We bring our full attention to what is within and around us.  We let our mind become spacious and our heart soft and kind.
Sitting meditation is healing.  We realize we can just be with whatever is within us – our pain, anger, and irritation, or our joy, love, and peace.  We are with whatever is there without being carried away by it. Let it come, let it stay, then let it go.  No need to react, to run away from or to push away, to suppress, or to ignore.  We observe the thoughts and images of our mind with an accepting and loving mind.  We are free to be still and calm despite the storms that might arise in us.
We will sit for periods of 20 or 30 minutes.  If our legs or feet fall asleep or begin to hurt during the sitting, we are free to adjust our position quietly.  We can maintain our concentration and support others in their practice by following our breathing, as we slowly and attentively change our posture.
For more information on the Mindfulness Practice Community of Toronto please visit their website at
http://mindfulnesspracticecommunity.org.