By Rev. Dr. Kenji Akahoshi, Resident Minister
|90th Anniversary - For All the Children
This month, we celebrate the Wisdom and Compassion of 90 years of Shin Buddhist efforts. A
familiar Japanese phrase that was often used to inspire each generation is “kodomo no tame ni,”
“for the sake of the children.” The early Shin pioneers realized that the deep spiritual wisdom that
supported their difficult lives, would be a crucial guide for their children. Through the decades, as
physical and social hardships diminished, the relevance of a religious/cultural/social center slowly
lost its appeal. So how might we view this quaint “saying” now?
Due to global, technological, and social changes, these words may take on a different view.
“Our children” should not be limited to referencing the children of our temple. Our efforts should
not be limited to the physical and social health of our temple members. The truth of
interdependence is more evident today with ecology, and our globally connected world of TV,
world news and the internet. The truth of impermanence is evident, as flowers fade and each
consumer product is outdated within a matter of months. These two fundamental truths of the
Buddha are accepted universally. Shin Buddhism is now poised to offer the world a resolution to
the fundamental concerns of humanity.
As we are the children of previous generations, I hope that we have a clear understanding of
the Shin Dharma that we pass on to our children. The Buddha’s Teaching is not just for the
betterment of our physical and social wellbeing. The truth of the Dharma is a guide for our inner
wellbeing. Our spiritual health determines how we see and value our ordinary life. It was this
grounding in the Buddha’s spiritual reality that sustained the pioneering Issei and Nisei. This truth
must be conveyed to our children and the children of the world. The threats to our children will not
be resolved by some local solution to employment or housing. The threat comes from 7 billion
individuals feeling alienated and separate from the other. It is this rejection of the truth of
interdependence that is the root of our discontent.
It is imperative that we incorporate the Buddha’s Teachings of interdependence and
impermanence into our world view. The physical hardships and the vast destruction of two world
wars in the first half of the 20th century, created a desire for a pleasant and peaceful physical
existence. Technology and the exploitation of resources created conditions that provided a
comfortable life style for many of us. But for others, in America and other parts of the world,
hardships remained. The dawn of the 21st century shines a light to the destructive results of this
affluent lifestyle. Natural resource depletion, climate change, and the inequality of life styles are
signs that we ignore the fundamental truth of interdependence. The social unrest, of the gap
between those who “have” and those who “have not,” has become evident in our daily news.
Therefore, a shift in our thinking is required, before any major shift occurs in our policies and
practices. Buddhism has much to offer in the area of clearing the mind.
The motives for living a Shin Buddhist life have shifted from the 1960’s. We are informed by
technology and social changes, that our individual actions influence the world around us. “For the
sake of our children,” the Shin Dharma provides the guidelines that can bridge the gap among our
various factions. Let us expand our sights from the limited cultural concerns of the past, to the
significant issues that challenge us today. Defending our fortress in a plague of ignorance is
The model of medical science reveals that the quarantine, isolationist strategy has limited
value. Vaccination for the greater population has a greater benefit. Let us not treat ignorance
with rejection. The vaccination of wisdom and compassion will have a much greater effect. The
bodhisattva ideal includes all of us. The primal vow assures us that the Dharma is an effective
vaccination against ignorance. By acknowledging our own ignorance, we can accept the
healing energy of the Buddha’s Teaching. Accepting our personal role in the ills of our society,
may be the first step in our awakening.
The Buddhist Temple of San Diego is greater than our physical facility. It is the sangha. Let us
emulate the efforts of our pioneering members. They sacrificed their own personal wellbeing to
insure the health of the community. Today, it is evident that the community must include our
greater society. With every recitation of Namo Amida Butsu, we gratefully accept the
compassionate gifts from others. And in turn, we become part of the primal vow to assure others
the same gift of acceptance.
Future articles will elaborate a contemporary view of the Primal Vow, so that our children can
provide future updates for their children.
|Copyright © Buddhist Temple of San Diego 2015-2016. All rights reserved.
|BUDDHIST TEMPLE OF SAN DIEGO
2929 Market Street
San Diego, California 92102