By Rev. Dr. Kenji Akahoshi, Resident Minister
Thank you everyone for your help at the cultural bazaar, fund-raiser. These events are
necessary to maintain the physical facility that supports the sharing of the Shin Buddhist Dharma.
Your participation may have been in the form of setting up, preparing, donating, selling, hosting,
performing, informing, cleaning up or simply eating and taking part in the activities. Whatever it
was, we thank you. This is an example of Shin Buddhism being the guide for ordinary people finding
joy in participation.
We have been describing the uniqueness of Shin practice, which is sometimes analogous or
similar to hearing. Hearing is a form of receiving. It is different from a practice to achieve
something. Shin practice is to voice the gratitude of Namo Amida Butsu, as we discover and
become more aware of the many benefits of life that we have received from others. This
awareness or awakening truly connects us with the Primal Vow, which assures us of that
awakening. But our awakening does not stop with just our appreciation. The next step is to display
our gratitude and joy with our service to others. We are affirming our Oneness with all Light and
provide opportunities for us to realize what we have received. And it also gives us a chance to
work for the benefit of others. And we do this with joy. Our work is not to gain credits of goodness,
but is done in appreciation for what has already been received. If we do not feel that we have
benefited much, then it is my job to help you see what we actually have. It is this shift in
perspective that makes our life joyful, and not a life of hardship. Please come join us in supporting
another event this August. Our Obon dance at Balboa Park will need a lot of support to share our
religion with the greater community.
In recognition of the centennial year of Balboa Park last year, The Japanese Friendship Garden
invited us to hold our Obon dance at the Park. It was a success, as a large number of people
witnessed and participated in our Obon dance and religion. It was also an opportunity for greater
food sales, although it required more work, in terms of transportation and logistics. However,
because of the difficulty of access for seniors, very few of our older members participated.
Although it was festive, it lacked the warmth of our traditional Obon gatherings. So this year, we
will have two Obon weekends.
On Sunday, July 31, at 2:00 pm, we will have our Obon/Hatsubon service with Rev. Katsuya
Kusunoki of the Buddhist Church of Lodi. After the service, a light meal will be available. The Obon
Odori (dance) will begin about 4:30 pm. This format retains the sacred intent of this dance, which is
to honor and remember our loved ones who have passed. This intimate setting allows elders to
meet, children to play, and friends to engage in the familiar surroundings of the temple. On behalf
of all the families who have lost a member this past year, I would like to thank all of you for the
extra effort in providing two Obon dances this year.
On Saturday, July 30, Rev. Kusunoki will conduct a BEC workshop from 1:00 – 4:00 pm. He has
an advanced certification on Shin ritual and chanting. Although we have talked about ritual,
etiquette, and chanting at various services, you can get all this information in one sitting, from an
authoritative speaker. This is especially recommended for new members and those applying for a
Buddhist Name (Kieshiki). He is a great teacher and all who attend will benefit. He is also a great
baseball player and would enjoy talking baseball with anyone.
On Saturday, August 6, the public Obon dance will again be held at Balboa Park. We hope
that members will come to help out in preparing and working at various booths. This is a major fund-
raising event. I hope that you feel that this hard work is worth the benefit that you receive from
the temple. The Shin teachings are not just about rituals and cultural heritage. The Dharma is a
guide to living a life that is rich and joyful, even in times of struggles and loss. The Obon Service
and dance is often called Kangi-E or “Gathering of Joy.” Come to our services to clarify why and
how we see life in such balanced terms. I thank the Obon committee and all those who will be
involved for this extra effort.
Come to both Obon events and become an active participant. Discover the feeling of being
part of a community that serves others, just for the joy of it.
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San Diego, California 92102