A Sense of Community

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Buddhist Leader Retires

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The Mindful Candidate

More connections to Barack Obama and Buddhist philosophy. Quotes are from an article in the Bangkok Post examining his leadership qualities.

In Buddhism, people who are transformed become selfless and dedicated to serving others. This is what many people felt when they watched the broadcast of Obama giving his somber, determined victory speech in Chicago on election night.

It may seem incredible that a person with such a humble beginning as Obama could have made it this far. Yet, when looking through the lens of Buddhism, it should not come as a surprise. This is a mindful and humble candidate with a deep understanding of dhamma running a thoughtful and honourable campaign, encouraging people to be selfless and join forces to create good karma for the purpose of lifting others out of suffering.


Gay Marriage

The recent marriage of George Takei and Brad Altman grabbed headlines recently. Foremost as news of "Proposition 8" rose to the forefront, but probably more notably on the fame of the former star of "Star Trek."

Takei,and Altman exchanged vows at a Buddhist ceremony pre­sided over by Rev. William Briones, Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple.

But, it also brings into light, the subject of gay marriage from a Buddhist perspective. Jodo Shinshu Ministers have been performing same-sex marriages for thirty years. Rev. William Briones is the first Mexican-American Jodo Shinshu Minister in America. He is also the person who officiated the marriage of Takei and Altman. He writes in November's BCA newsletter that Amida's Primal Vow does not discriminate.

"Within our teachings of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, there are no doctrinal grounds that exist the prohibits neutral-gender marriage. Within the compassionate light of the Amida Buddha, all beings are equally embraced."


Gala Dinner

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Dalai Lama on Barack Obama

The Dalai Lama congratulated US President-elect Barack Obama on his election victory on November 4 with the following letter:


Dear President-elect Obama,
Congratulations on your election as the President of the United States of America.
I am encouraged that the American people have chosen a President who reflects America's diversity and her fundamental ideal that any person can rise up to the highest office in the land.  This is a proud moment for America and one that will be celebrated by many peoples around the world.
The American Presidential elections are always a great source of encouragement to people throughout the world who believe in democracy, freedom and equality of opportunities.
May I also commend the determination and moral courage that you have demonstrated throughout the long campaign, as well as the kind heart and steady hand that you often showed when challenged.  I recall our own telephone conversation this spring and these same essential qualities came through in your concern for the situation in Tibet.
As the President of the United States, you will certainly have great and difficult tasks before you, but also many opportunities to create change in the lives of those millions who continue to struggle for basic human needs.  You must also remember and work for these people, wherever they may be.
With my prayers and good wishes,
Yours sincerely,


Bring Your Children up Buddhist

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Thurman on the Teachings of Buddhism

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Living Peace

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Buddhist Economics

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One Year Later

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Through a Buddhist Lens

It's back and better and than ever!

The third annual Calgary Buddhist Film Series kicks off on Thursday, October 30. It features seven films followed by discussions led by Ministers of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism including Sensei Ulrich of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple. It's probably the best deal in town... FREE!

Also check out DharmaFlix. Its a new collaborative wiki web site listing films with Buddha dharma content. It also features a top 100 list based on participants' reviews. So what's your favorite Buddhist film or TV series?


Jodo Shinshu Day in Canada

Our organization used to be called the BCC (Buddhist Churches of Canada), but as we have officially changed the name to Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada (JSBTC) this spring, we are commemorating the 103rd JSBTC Day in 2008. Simply put, it has been 103 years since Jodo Shinshu was first introduced by Senju Sasaki Sensei in 1905.
May I join all the Dharma Friends across Canada in paying my tribute of appreciation to the pioneers and predecessors for their vision and commitment to guide us in the teaching of the Nembutsu.  
Today, if you go to internet and check Buddhism in Canada, you will be surprised to know there have been hundred of groups in many Buddhist traditions mushrooming throughout the country , which never existed 40 years ago. Therefore, I think it was a good choice to put the name of Jodo Shinshu in front to clarify our mission. At the same time, however, we have to be prepared to explain what is Jodo Shinshu Buddhism to the general public. Especially ministers, temple leaders and officers are responsible to take the lead.
Let me remind you of the 750th Memorial Service of Shinran Shonin, the founder of Jodo Shinshu tradition, which will be observed in Kyoto from April 9, 2011 to January 16, 2012 under the theme of “AN-NON”, Peace and Tranquility. We, the JSBTC are also planning to observe our national service one year before, in 2010, to promote our tradition. 
May each and everyone be aware of this important event which is only observed once in 50 years and participate with good understanding and support.  
In gassho,
Socho Orai Fujikawa, Bishop of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada

Buddha Cat

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Dharma Talks on iTunes

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12 Hour Chanting Marathon

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The Gold Medal of Life

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Social Networking and Buddhism

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Buddhism and the Environment

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Buddhism in a Global Age of Technology

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Obama Buddha

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Funeral Buddhism

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Bad Buddha

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Former BCC Bishop dies

The former Bishop of the Buddhist Churches of Canada has passed away. Rev. Toshio Murakami's life ended on May 26, 2008 at the Pali Momi Hospital in Hawaii. He was 77 years old.

Toshio Murakami was born in Fukuoka, Japan on October 5, 1931. He came to North America in 1959 after receiving his kyoshi certification. His first assignment was at the Berkeley Buddhist Church in California. He was the minister at several temples on the U.S, west coast before working at the BCA headquarters in 1977.

On March 15, 1986, Rev. Murakami began his term as the Bishop of the Buddhist Churches of Canada. Here's a short video clip of Bishop Murakami during a short documentary produced in 1989. In it, he explains his vision for the future of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in Canada.

Canada's current Bishop, Socho Fujikawa writes, "He will be remembered as the Bishop who had helped the 1990 World Buddhist Women’s Convention in Vancouver."

After serving the BCC for seven years, Rev. Murakami served the Australian Jodo Shinshu community. He would eventually retire as the minister of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, but continued to be the resident minister of the Pearl City Hongwanji Mission.

His funeral was held on June 6, 2008 at the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin. It was officiated by Bishop Thomas R. Okano and sponsored by both the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii and the Pearl City Hongwanji Mission.

Rev. Murakami leaves behind his wife, Yoko, two daughters, Mari and Rumi and two grandchildren. If you would like to make a donation, the Murakami family has requested that it should be made directly to the Pacific Buddhist Academy.

Jodo Shinshu Online

Almost 800 years have passed since Shinran revealed the teaching of Jodo Shinshu (Shin Buddhism) in Japan, following the path of Sakyamuni and other masters in India, China and Japan.  The teaching, with deep reflection on human existence and the realization of dynamic Dharma, has fascinated many people around the world.  Thus, the practice of Jodo Shinshu does not remain  solely in Japan, but has expanded to Hawaii, North America, South America, Asia, Europe, Australia and Africa.  More people are learning about Jodo Shinshu through ministers’ activities, publications and the internet.  As one response to their growing interest, the Honpa Hongwanji (Mother temple in Japan) has established a correspondence course which provides, especially for those who do not have access to temples nearby, with basic knowledge of Jodo Shinshu. 
In addition, this correspondence course also aims to provide those individuals, who have already joined Jodo Shinshu temples as members, with opportunities to deepen their understanding.  This is achieved through internet communication with instructors about specific topics related to Jodo Shinshu and Buddhism in general.  The correspondence course takes on a new challenge and plays an important role in transmitting the teaching to all people who seek further knowledge of Jodo Shinshu. The Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada is pleased to offer you the Jodo Shinshu Correspondence Course and welcome your enthusiastic participation in this new journey of online education.

"As a participant, I found the 10 week course informative and thought provoking. I felt the experience served to deepen my appreciation and understanding of Jodo Shinshu and ignited a desire to continue the studies. I am eagerly waiting to enroll in the fall courses." --Renae Barlow, Lethbridge, Alberta


Buddha’s Teachings Significant in Troubled Times

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Birth of the Buddha Celebration

Join us for a celebration of the birth of the Buddha! The event takes place at the St. Norbert Arts Centre on Sunday May 31 starting at 7:00pm. The program includes a Parade of Lanterns, spiritual dance and music and features a Dharma Talk by Sensei Ulrich.

Canada Honours Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi

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Jodo Shinshu BTC AGM

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Buddhist Way of Life

Ogui Socho of the Buddhist Churches of America makes a very special appearance on this internet video on the DharmaNet web site. Learn why he chose the Buddhist path and more about his Zen mentor, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Also find out why he was "kicked out" of his first temple in the United States and how he eventually overcame that setback to become the Bishop of the Buddhist Churches of America.

The video is a part of an online video series called "The Buddhist Way of Life." In 2005, the Society for the Promotion of Buddhism (Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai) [BDK] initiated a BDK-TV Series shown in Southern California. The weekly 15-minute shows featured interviews and teachings from major American Buddhist followers and teachers. 


Hanamatsuri Celebrates Buddha’s Birth

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Tiger Wood's Secret

He's having an incredible year so far and the Masters is just around the corner. Tiger Woods is on par to win his fifth green jacket in Augusta, Georgia.

So what's his secret?

Meditation. This is an excerpt from an article from the UK Times web site:

Woods does not talk much about the fact that he meditates, something he learnt from Kultida, his mother, who is a Buddhist. “In the Buddhist religion you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life and set up the next life,” he said. “It is all about what you do, and you get out of life what you put into it. So you are going to have to work your butt off in every aspect of your life. That is one of the things that people see in what I do on the course.”


Dharma Realm

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A Monk's Struggle on the Cover of Time Magazine

"Since China wants to join the world community," the 14th Dalai Lama said as I was traveling across Japan with him for a week last November, "the world community has a real responsibility to bring China into the mainstream." The whole world stands to gain, he pointed out, from a peaceful and unified China—not least the 6 million Tibetans in China and Chinese-occupied Tibet. "But," he added, "genuine harmony must come from the heart. It cannot come from the barrel of a gun."

The Dali Lama, the Torch and Steve

Steve Varon is a businessman from New York with a vision and a goal of having the Dali Lama carry the Olympic torch during the Beijing Olympics later this year. If you know even the slightest bit about world politics, you know that the concept of the Dali Lama participating in an Olympics being held in China is difficult to conceive.  Yet Steve pushes forward, having obtained the green light from the Dali Lama himself, as well as positive feedback from many world leaders.

What iconic image could say more about world peace than the Dali Lama participating in this event. 
blog excerpt courtesy: jordanayan.typepad.com

Barack Obama, An Inspiration to the World

As the race for the democratic nomination for President of the United States nears the finish line, here's an interesting take on Barack Obama. The positive values that Obama exemplifies can be compared to many of the teachings of the Dharma. This is why the blogger believes that this is a big reason why he is the inspirational figure that he is today.

Like the Buddha, Barack Obama learned in his early adult years as a community organizer that poverty is the root of much suffering in the world. He saw how poverty seeps into people's lives like a poison that drives people into a life of crime and overall suffering. He understands that to bring people out of poverty is to improve society as a whole. He is known as a uniter, he is quite gifted at being able to bring about compromises that work for all sides involved.


FYI, even Barack Obama's sister, Maya, considers her outlook on life as "Buddhist".

And the Survey Says...

If you're Buddhist in the United States, you're most likely a white convert who lives in the American West.

That's one of the findings of a the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, released Monday (Feb. 25), by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life reports what many of the Jodo Shinshu community in Canada are already experiencing. It says that Buddhists are among the faiths with the lowest retention rates of childhood members and that many Buddhists have married someone of a different religion.

A study also concludes that of more than 35,000 adult Americans that were interviewed, .07 percent consider themselves followers of Buddhism.

Hindus Thrive as Buddhists Struggle to Pass on the Faith
by Andrea Useem, Religion News Service

For Buddhists, the data show "convert Buddhist communities face a significant challenge in engaging their children and keeping them in the tradition," said Thomas Tweed, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Many Buddhist converts "didn't really attempt to bring their children into Buddhism," added Robert Seager, a religious studies professor at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. "They said, `I don't want to lay my trip on my kids."

There is good news, 44 percent of Americans say they're no longer tied to the religious or secular upbringing of their childhood. They've changed religions or denominations, adopted a faith for the first time or abandoned any affiliation altogether which could lead to more people looking into Buddhism as a choice for religious beliefs.

Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum predicts that as world religions such as Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism will continue to grow in the USA through immigration and conversion, workplaces, schools and eventually the courts will face increasing challenges over religious accommodation.


How to Cook Your Life

Filmmaker Doris Dörrie turns her attention to Buddhism and that age-old saying, you are what you eat. In How To Cook Your Life, Dörrie enlists the help of the charismatic Zen Master Edward Espe Brown to explain the guiding principles of Zen Buddhism as they apply to the preparation of food as well as life itself. “How a person goes about dealing with the ingredients for his meals” explains Dörrie “says a lot about him. How To Cook Your Life teaches us to be attentive in our everyday dealings with the most mundane things and also open our eyes to one of the most beautiful occupations: cooking.”

Now playing until February 27 at the Winnipeg Cinematheque Theatre

Kind Words from Dr. Kawamura


As one of the projects of the Living Dharma Center, I have proposed to visit all temples in the Buddhist Churches of Canada and survey Dharma School and Youth programs. I began my visitations with the Manitoba Buddhist Temple in Winnipeg on February 17, 2008.

The resident Minister (Sensei) is Fred Ulrich and he has done a wonderful job of taking the temple into the society. As a consequence, many people who are interested in the Buddha-dharma (teachings of the Enlightened Siddhartha) have visited the temple and some have become new members to the temple. Others have volunteered to help at “soup kitchens” and other inter-religious groups. Those members who have been with the temple for many years, and some who have been there from the very beginning, contribute to the advancement and development of the temple by contributing financial assistance as well as being attentive to the various needs of the temple.

On this visit, I was invited to attend the Sunday service attended by many people both old and new. I met a lady whose visit to the temple was for the first time, and I was pleased to see that she was accepted into the sangha and was taking part in the events of the day just in the manner that those who were there for a longer period.

The service itself was very impressive in that it was not centered around the Sensei only, but members (both children and adults) led the sangha in various aspects – leading in the Trisarana, leading in the incense offering, reading of the Juseige in English prior to the chanting of it led by Sensei Ulrich. I was invited to give a Dharma talk to the children, to the Japanese speaking adults, and then to the English speaking adults.

A gift from a Dharma Class Student

Visitation to the Dharma school class was done during the adult meditation session. During my visit, many good ideas of how the LDC could gain from and contribute to the Manitoba Buddhist Temple Dharma Classes were exchanged These ideas will be compiled and circulated among the temples so that exchange of ideas can take place.

During the “pot luck” lunch, an opportunity was provided to share the intent, structure, and wish of the LDC for each person’s participation in its work.

Lunch is served

Sensei Ulrich meets a visitor

A sample brochure of the LDC was distributed to those in attendance. This brochure is a “work in progress” in that it contains some information about the structure and working of the LDC, but hopefully it will prompt comments from the members of the BCC at large so that when the brochure reaches its more mature state, it will contain the information that responds to the members’ wishes.

Origami practise

The brochure is in such an infantile stage that some of the Winnipeg members had to practice “origami” (the art of paper folding) to get into shape for handing out.

Watch for more from my next visits:
February 23 - West Coast Temples
March 16 - Southern Alberta Temple
Calgary, Interior BC and East Coast temples are still pending.

Dr. Leslie Kawamura
February 17, 2008


Faith in the City

courtesy Winnipeg Free Press

The Interfaith tour began on Thursday, January 17 at our own Manitoba Buddhist Temple. The turnout was overwhelming. Over 200 people filled the temple to observe how a Buddhist service is performed. The enthusiastic crowd showed a genuine interest by participating in the meditation and chanting exercises.

The series is organized by the Winnipeg Free Press "Faith Columnist", Brenda Suderman. She describes the tour as "prying open our comfort zones, experiencing each other at worship, prayer and other rituals, and learning just a bit more about ourselves and our neighbours in the process." She wrote in her column following the session:

Last Thursday night, more than 150 people packed the 60-year-old Buddhist Church near the Health Sciences Centre for an introduction to Buddhism, the first stop on a six-session interfaith course co-sponsored by the University of Winnipeg and the Manitoba Interfaith Council. That enthusiastic response astounded organizers, and proves to (Sensei) Ulrich that people are convinced of the need for interfaith dialogue and co-operation.

"You're here because there's a grassroots interest in this, it's a lay movement," the former Methodist minister turned Buddhist sensei told the audience during the three hours of chanting, singing, explanations, and questions. "In a pluralistic, multi-faith society, we end up with pluralistic, multi-faith individuals."

Sensei Ulrich enjoyed sharing this vision of a more multi-faith community. He told the audience that sometimes lay people are ahead of the clergy and religious leaders because they are already living the multi-faith experience in their own families. He said that many families are already dealing with religious issues that often come in mixed racial marriages.


Introducton to Buddhism

The Manitoba Buddhist Temple is offering an introductory course on Buddhism. The course will be held at the temple on four alternate Thursday evenings from 7:00-9:00pm.

Feb. 7 - Basic Introduction to Buddhism
Feb. 21 - Buddhist Psychology of Mind and Meditation
March 6 - Three Buddhist Meditations
March 20 - Meditation Practice and Sharing Circle

Donations gratefully accepted. This is an interfaith, non-evangelical presentation by Fredrich Ulrich, Sensei. Parking behind the temple accessed by the back lane to the north of the temple, in the community, and in the HSC parking lot on the SE corner of Notre Dame and Tecumseh, as provided by a gracious agreement with the HSC for evening special events only.

Shinran and Rennyo on the Amazing Race

This week on the Amazing Race, Jodo Shinshu Buddhists may have recognized two very famous statues. Part of this week's show was to go to the 16th century, Kita-Mido Temple in Osaka, Japan. Both, Shinran Shonin and Rennyo Shonin, make a cameo appearances on prime-time television.

Where is God? CBC Series

CBC Radio and CBCNews.ca are exploring the question "Where is God today?" Commentators, religious thinkers and ordinary Canadians give their thoughts. Among the particpants is our own Sensei Ulrich. He was interviewed about how he came to become a Jodo Shinshu Minister and was featured in a photo slideshow.
WATCH THE SLIDESHOW (Sensei Ulrich is the fourth person presented)...

Also in the series is Bonnie Tittaferrante from Thunder Bay. Bonnie is the Lay Leader of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhists of Thunder Bay. Here is part of the essay she wrote for CBC.CA:

Following the Path in a Northern Town
Gold, red, mahogany and marble Buddhas from various sects fill my home. But a single statue of my Buddha, Amida, graces the home shrine (butsudan), his fit physical features a mixture of many races. He stands with one hand upward and one reaching down to me. After chanting and readings of the Dharma (Teachings), the welcoming smell of sandalwood incense permeates my home, as it does Jodo Shinshu temples and homes worldwide. Once a predominately ethnic Japanese-based sect, Jodo Shinshu Buddhism (also called Shin) is slowly growing among those of non-Japanese descent.