I am from Saitama, a city next to Tokyo. I graduated from Nihon University college of Art where I majored in sculpture.My mother is from a Jodo Shinshu temple family and when I was 33 years old, I decided to study Shin Buddhism at Tokyo Bukkyo Gakuin.
After graduation, I worked as a Shin Buddhist minister in Hiroshima for 5 years. In 2011, I went to New York for one year to pursue my love of art. During that time, I had the opportunity to visit the New York
Buddhist Church. While attending the church, I was given the opportunity to participate and help at services. It was at this time that
I developed an interest in the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA). I subsequently took part in the International Ministerial
Orientation Program (IMOP) at the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley, California in
the fall of 2012 with the intention of becoming aBCA minister.
In December 2013, I was assigned to the Oxnard Buddhist Temple and Buddhist Church of Santa Barbara.
Some of my favorite things to do are painting, listening to music, watching movies (especially classic black and white movies) and reading.
(Receiving Shinjin ourselves and then leading others to receiving it)
Rev. Masanori Watanabe
Happy New Year! I deeply appreciate your tremendous support during the past year. I am going to try my best during the year 2017. I look forward to your continued support.
In retrospect, there were some special and new events in 2016. For example, our BCA Bishop visited the Oxnard temple, I held a seminar on Rennyo Shonin, and I toured Japan and attended the ascension service in Kyoto.
I have learned a lot through these events. It was my great pleasure to discuss Rennyo Shonin with the attendees, because he is very interesting and I respect him very much.
As you may know, Rennyo Shonin was the eighth leader of our Buddhist denomination.
He is well known as the person who revitalized the Jodo Shinshu tradition in the 15th century. His efforts became a driving force behind a growing Jodo Shinshu movement that resulted in the largest Buddhist denomination in Japan.
Needless to say, Shinran Shonin is the most important person in Jodo Shinshu history; however, Rennyo Shonin’s words and actions influenced many common people and the Jodo Shinshu teachings spread rapidly among them.
This month, I would like to introduce you to Rennyo’s words, quoted from Heard and Recorded During Master Rennyo’s Lifetime.
“Receiving *shinjin ourselves and then leading others to receive it (Jishin Kyoninshin) appears in the Ojo Raisan (Master Shan-tao’s commentary). So we must receive shinjin ourselves before trying to lead others to it. That’s how we repay our indebtedness to the Buddha. We should first confirm our shinjin and then ‘spread the teaching of Great Compassion Widely’ (Daihi Denbuke), that is, spread the Buddha’s Great Compassion to all sentient beings and lead them along the way of truth.”
*Shinjin: A Japanese term closely meaning “entrusting.” Shinjin is of pivotal importance in the Jodo Shinshu tradition; without it, there would be no Jodo Shinshu. Shinjin is not something that one can fabricate through self-centered efforts and concepts. Shinjin is the entrusting that is awakened within each person through the working of Amida’s Primal Vow, to be realized by us to be the ultimate reality that transcends the present life with all its imperfections and illusions.
The 25th new leader, Sennyo Shonin, sent out his calligraphy to all BCA temples. He wrote Jishin Kyoninshin in his calligraphy, to teach us the significance of the words. As I previously wrote in the Prasada, I think “belief” is individual. It is surely very important to support a temple together; however, it will be empty if we do not get pleasure from listening to Buddha’s teachings, which were transmitted from 2,500 years ago by many people, such as Shinran Shonin, Rennyo Shonin, and our ancestors. We should be pleased by their great compassion. I think it is one of the most important things in our lives.
I will try my best to share the Buddha’s wonderful teachings, especially the Pure Land Path, with all of you. I believe it is my duty as the Oxnard temple’s minister and my “Jishin Kyoninshin.”
Namo Amida Butsu