Rev. Masanori Watanabe — O-Taiya Hōonkō Eve — December 14, 2019
Our very own Sensei Watanabe is on youtube!
This is the Ho-onko Eve service at the Buddhist Church of San Francisco.
With an introduction by BCA Bishop Umezu,
the message is in English and Japanese.
Special message from Gomonshu Otani!
The leader of our Jodo Shinshu sect, Gomonshu Otani, came to visit our humble temple with other dignitaries from Japan on September 9 of this year. Gomonshu Otani is the 25th Monshu descendant of Shinran Shonin, the founder of our Buddhist sect in the early 13th century. We are grateful to be able to share the message he gave during his visit.
It is with great pleasure that I am able to pay homage together with you to Amida Buddha enshrined here at the Oxnard Buddhist Temple. Overcoming many difficulties and hardships, your ancestors established many Buddhist temples to share the Dharma here in the United States of America. Reflecting on their patience and resilience, I feel deep respect and appreciation.
In 2023, four years from now, we will commemorate the 850th anniversary of Shinran Shonin’s birth and the following year 2024, will be the 800th anniversary of the establishment of the Jodo Shinshu teaching. It is worth noting that the teaching clarified by Shinran Shonin has been revered and passed on to us by our ancestors for 800 years. Today, those who cherish his teaching are not limited to Japan and found across the world.
One important teaching in Jodo Shinshu is expressed in the phrase, sesshu fusha, which literally means to “grasp and never abandon.” In a poem composed by Shinran Shonin known as Hymns of the Pure Land, he writes:
Seeing the sentient beings of the nembutsu
Throughout the worlds, countless as particles, in the ten quarters,
The Buddha grasps and never abandons them,
And therefore is named “Amida.”
Shinran Shonin adds explanatory notes to the phrase “grasps and never abandons them” and writes “setsu means to pursue and grasp the one who seeks to run away.”
In addition, Sakyamuni Buddha taught that the fundamental cause of our suffering is none other than our human desires. He explains that we suffer because we are inclined to be driven by our conveniences. In other words, we place judgment on things as good or bad depending upon whether they promote our selfish interests or not. Moreover, when human desires are limitless, and people excessively assert their egocentricities to others, resentment deepens between groups of people, and this paves the way for future confrontation.
Responding to this, Amida Buddha chases after those who have their backs turned towards the truth. The Buddha continuously works to grasp and guide people to the world of truth. This working manifests itself as the Name or the Nembutsu that is Namo Amida Butsu, which is always being directed towards us.
No matter how much science and technology may develop in the future, the essential nature of us human beings will never change. However, without regard to time and place, whether it be Japan, the US, or anywhere in this world, in the past as well and in the future to come, the Jodo Shinshu teaching will continue to be the spiritual basis for all people and enable them to truly find meaning in their lives.
It is my hope that every one of you will continue to deepen your appreciation of the Dharma and share it on every occasion with your family as well as to the people around you. Let us live each day to the utmost, appreciating the Buddha’s compassion that extends to every one of us.