Elwyn Kawate is the President of the OBT Board of Directors.
It is Obon season and I presume for most this means feasting on good food, reconnecting with friends, meeting new people and a general focus on the dance ring. However, off in the distance, in the background, on the periphery is the temple in which lies the altar housing the image of Amida Buddha or the name “Namu Amida Butsu.” Amida is always calling, beckoning us to enter his realm so that we may realize our true condition and what we are (unknowingly) really doing to ourselves and others. I believe when we come to this realization, only then, will the true and sincere joy arise from within that is then outwardly expressed in the Obon dance. To me, from a Jodo Shinshu perspective, the story of Maudgalyayana (a disciple of Sakyamuni Buddha) from the sutras is saying that there is something we can do, here and now, that can impact what will happen (to us and others) if causal action is taken. The dance is the resultant expression of having done that necessary action called for by Amida and is more celebratory in nature than causal (the act which will generate a good result). Therefore, this Obon season may I suggest to visit the temple, respond to Amida’s call first and foremost, and then go out and connect with your fellow sentient beings and the world in appreciation/celebration for having this truly unique & precious opportunity in this time and this space.