APRIL 2016
Dharma Message
By Rev. Dr. Kenji Akahoshi, Resident Minister
Buddha - Buddha Nature - Eco Sangha
      April sings the song of spring. We cele-brate the birth of the Buddha during this sea-son of
renewal. In spring, the blossoms and flowers symbolize an awakening. We wit-ness the power of
nature, and voice our par-ticipation, when we celebrate “Earth Day.” It was so appropriate that
our recent BCA National Council Meeting was held in Visalia, in the Central Valley, with the theme
of “Cultivating the Buddha Dharma.” The basic message was that the naturalness of the Dharma,
can be cultivated to enhance the sharing of this truth with others.
      Shinran felt that the Buddha’s main intent in teaching the Pure Land path was to guide
ordinary people toward a life of harmony and joy, in the midst of pain and suffering. We are able to
hear the wisdom of the Teachings amid the harsh realities of life: sickness, old age, and death.
Today, we are emerging from the warmest Feb-ruary in recorded history, while dealing with the
effects of a severe drought. Our lives of comfort and convenience are showing signs of limits. The
life of an ordinary person in 21st century America, might match the princely life of Siddhartha
Gotama. Perhaps it is time for us to seek the same truth that called to the Buddha.
      The truths of Interdependence and Impermanence are undisput-ed. The “American Dream”
was based on a pristine land with hardy pioneers who could only improve on the undeveloped
landscape. But the human population is increasing by billions in decades, not centuries. Human
manipulation has altered the landscape, re-sources, and life environment of the planet so
drastically, that it has become a nightmare. The truth of the Buddhadharma can show us the
cause of our dilemma, and also our path to recovery. The lives of our children and their
descendants are dependent on our awak-ening and action. A spiritual life is not solely about piety
and ritual. It is to wake up and take responsibility as an integral part of the hu-man and earthly
condition.
      A basic message of the Buddha is to live a life of harmony. The individual, ME, is
interdependent with the whole, WE. It is surprising and frustrating to see that this elementary truth is
unknown or ig-nored by so many. As Buddhists, it may be incumbent on us to share these truths of
interdependence and harmony, with our fellow citizens. For many in our Japanese-American Shin
communities, these thoughts of social action may challenge our sense of security. Yet, we are
faced with ample evidence of negative consequences, if we remain inactive. What is our
response to our children, as they ask what we did, as our society and planet deteriorate?
      The renewing power of nature is especially evident in spring. Plants reject the smothering
concrete, as they emerge through any crack. Impermanence and interdependence rule the
natural world to seek balance. Human intellect can also balance the folly that we have placed
upon ourselves. But human knowledge and ingenuity are not enough. Wisdom and compassion
are required. Farmers have cultivated the resources of land, water, plants, and animals to benefit
our food supply. We must learn to cultivate the Dharma within our inner being, as we work to
balance the damaging chang-es that we have made to the environment.
      The challenge we face in restoring our environment may seem overwhelming. But history has
shown that our society has evolved and corrected past assumptions and mistakes. Cigarette
smoking, water and air pollution, automobile safety, pesticides, food, health, and building
standards have all improved when we became aware of the damaging effects of previous
practices. What was profitable for a few and convenient for many, had negative consequences
for the whole. The 4 Noble Truths remind us that the attachment to our selfish concern, leads to
discontent or suffering for me and others. We must seek solutions that bring harmony for many.
      For the sake of our children and future generations, the guide-lines of our EcoSangha provide a
path of wholeness. Cultivating the Dharma means that each of us might develop our hearts,
minds, and actions toward appreciating the efforts of those who went be-fore us. As we voice
Namo Amida Butsu, we acknowledge the gifts received from others and join that group of
benefactors to enhance the lives of others. We share the compassionate heart of the Bud-dha, as
we make efforts to adopt ecological practices.
      Come learn about ecological living as the EcoSangha presents Earth Day activities after the
service on Sunday, April 17. A shift in perspective changes us from being a source of wasteful
products to a solution of sustainability. It is not that hard to liberate ourselves from the constant
drumbeat of thoughtless consumerism. Just as a daily “thank you” can lead us toward a life of
gratitude, a mindful practice to rethink, recycle, and reuse can lead to an eco-friendly life. It
should be fun to bring these new perspectives into our estab-lished routine. It can make us feel
fresh, innovative and a significant part of society. Our children and future generations will
appreciate us.
      Cultivating our Buddhadharma can enliven and freshen our lives. Jinen Honi refers to a natural
awakening due to the compassionate process of other’s efforts toward our benefit. Like the farmer
who cultivates his crops, we might cultivate our awareness of these gifts from others. In spring,
plants blossom naturally. We also blossom naturally, with the gifts of Light and Life. Let us respond
by voicing Namo Amida Butsu as our expression of gratitude.
                                                                                                                              
Gassho
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