A million dollars. That’s a lot of money. A million dollars can buy a lot of things. Things that are necessary, things that are important, things that might help others.
We are almost done with the first phase of our long term project. But we still need to raise nearly a million dollars for this first phase. Only with your participation can this phase be successfully complete without incurring any debt.
A million dollars is so big for most of us it seems almost abstract. Or so big that I might feel anything I do will not make a difference. We need everybody to do what you can to successfully complete this project. When we work together we can raise enough to avoid drawing on our credit. Many of you have been very generous. Some of you are still considering how you might help. Your help, whether you decide to contribute $5,000 or $25,000, is important. Each of us is a vital part of the sangha.
In an op-ed story, “The Fragmented Society”, David Brooks wrote in the New York Times, referring to Yuval Levin’s new book, “The Fractured Republic”,
“I’m acknowledged in the book, but I learned something new on every page. Nonetheless, I’d say Levin’s emphasis on subsidiarity and local community is important but insufficient. We live within a golden chain, connecting self, family, village, nation and world. The bonds of that chain have to be repaired at every point, not just the local one.”
Placing this quote here, makes it seem much smaller than the grand context from which it was torn. Brooks was speaking to the ebb and flow of our nation’s history. He wrote that transition in society is often preceded by turmoil.
What caught my interest was the image of a “golden chain” that Brooks uses. I’m sure he was not referring to our Golden Chain. But it shares similar dependencies which we have with the world around us. We might think of ourselves as independent yet when we see only our independence things around us can begin to fall apart.
We are the Golden Chain, we are the Sangha. Every individual is a critical part of our ability to continue to learn and share the Buddhadharma. For generations the temple has been a place to gather, to share and enjoy a community of fellow travelers. Travelers along the Nembutsu path. We have shared in a rich tapestry of joy and sorrow. When the sangha was first organized in 1902 there was such anticipation for a bright future. But the Sangha split in two for awhile because of differences within the leadership. We realized, however, that there was no value in a divided Sangha and we set aside the differences and came together to become one again.
In 1936-37 the Hondo we enjoy today was built. A truly remarkable accomplishment, built in the midst of the Great Depression. A time of great hardship. But the Sangha drew together and dedicated the Hondo in 1937. For five years we gathered in the Hondo to enjoy the Buddhadharma as a Sangha. In 1942 the Hondo was still new when the Sangha, along with 120,000 others, was removed from our communities and sent into relocation camps. The Hondo stood empty and dark with the sangha scattered through internment camps. No services, no funerals, no weddings, no memorial services, no gatherings to mark the milestones of our lives.
When the sangha was released they returned to a Hondo that was emptied of pews and filled with cots. The Hondo and the old Hondo next door served as temporary housing, a shelter for both body and spirit, for people coming back to rebuild their lives and the community. For the next 70 years we enjoyed and built on the legacy left to us.
As we renovate and retrofit the Annex we are making a simple promise to the future, that they too will have a place to come to and share and enjoy the Buddhadharma.