Another Irony of Shinran

Posted by:

K. Ken Fujimoto

In working on some translations for the Ministers Affairs Committee, I have come to see that the ideal for a Jodo Shinshu minister is based heavily on the image of Shinran Shonin. This may seem natural at first, but I find it ironic since Shinran never intended to start a sect and cultivate a following. Even the Continue Reading →

Guitars in the Hondo

Posted by:

G Sakamoto

My first assignment as a minister was to the Honolulu Betsuin. I was a part of the English Department where one of my responsibilities was helping with the layout of the monthly newsletter, The Goji. The department office was downstairs and away from the main office. Although I was usually upstairs occasionally I would spend time downstairs looking through old files and newsletters discovering things about our history. One of the things that really struck me was the concern ...

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Collecting Complaints

Posted by:

K. Ken Fujimoto

Reading an article recently in the Hongwanji Shinpo, the Hongwanji newspaper that comes out three times each month, I found out about an interesting project started by some graduate students at Ryukoku University assisted by other Hongwanji affiliated schools.  What they are doing is that a group of them position themselves outside the main Kyoto train station and offer to listen to peoples’ complaints.  They call it a complaint collection project and they ...

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Unexpected

Posted by:

G Sakamoto

“When foolish beings of delusion and defilement awaken shinjin ,
They realize that birth-and-death is itself nirvana;
Without fail they reach the land of immeasurable light
And universally guide sentient beings to enlightenment”
Shoshinge, Collected Works of Shinran, page 72

My unenlightenment shapes my experience of nirvana. Nirvana is the world of birth-and-death because of my unenlightenment. As an unenlightened person I cause and experience difficulties. The resolution of these difficulties is the purpose of the Buddhadharma.

Difficulties are the result ...

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A Bittersweet Obon

Posted by:

K. Ken Fujimoto

With the help of many volunteers, this past Obon bazaar was a successful one, but it was also a sad one with the passing of Mum Arii, who had been an integral part of the Obon, especially the odori, the street dancing portion, for so many years. Many people wondered why I did not say anything at the closing on Sunday. I thought about it for quite a while, but decided not to do so because ...

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Lemon Tree

Posted by:

G. Sakamoto

We have an old lemon tree in our backyard. ThereÕs a lot of history to that tree; how it got there, the lemons it produces, the uses the lemons have been put to. The fruit are large and delicious. Now the tree is dying and weÕre trying to save it.

This past winter we noticed that large sections of the foliage was turning brown, something that had not happened before. We thought maybe the trees behind it were beginning to ...

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Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and the Nembutsu

Posted by:

K. Ken Fujimoto

An interesting point came to me while reading a novel for pleasure.  One scene depicted the main character, a female chef in Tokugawa Japan, toasting some pumpkin seeds for a snack for a neighborhood boy.  She peeled and gave him one and he seemed to enjoy it immensely.  His mother took one seed and commented how much better it was then when she toasted the seeds.  There were other neighborhood women around and they all commented that they ...

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Step by Step

Posted by:

K. Ken Fujimoto

At a given point in time, something may seem very important.  At a later point, that same thing may not seem nearly as important, even trivial.  Later still, one comes to see that it was important in context.

We have all had such experiences.  Some of what seemed so important at the time may even have become totally forgotten.

One such example can be seen in how we react to starting school.  A young child going to ...

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Avoid all evil

Posted by:

G Sakamoto

The Dhammapada is a collection of verses that most likely originated with the Buddha. The collection is made up of 423 verses in 26 books. There are several of these verses in our Dharma School service book. There are many translations of the Dhammapada both in print and online. In the Fourteenth Book, the fifth verse reads: “To avoid all evil, to cultivate good,
and to cleanse one’s mind —
this is the teaching of the Buddhas.” When Bai Juyi (772 ...

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