Keiro-kai is our day to say “thanks” to the senior members of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple. Throughout the years, they have given their time and effort for the Buddhist community in this city. Their Buddhist lineage goes back several generations. An incredible notion if you think about it. While many of us may be new to Buddhism, these people were brought up in a Buddhist home with a Buddhist family.
Fifty people, including eleven elders, attended this year’s Keiro-Kai service and lunch, which was held in the hondo of the temple for the very first time.
Thanks to everyone who brought a dish of food for our meal. I especially want to thank Mona Hiebert and Donna Nishimura for preparing the games and prizes. Also to Susan Nishi for organizing the potluck. We are grateful for your contributions.
With great respect to our elders, we hope you enjoyed your day.
Bishop Ikuta with Sarana participants at the Manitoba Buddhist Temple
The beginning of the new year is traditionally a time for us to send out greetings to our family and friends, wishing them a “Happy New Year”. Yet at times, it seems to be getting harder and harder to wish someone a “Happy” New Year when we see all the turmoil and suffering going on throughout the world.
Just yesterday alone, I saw a news report on the firing of the long range rocket by North Korea, which they claim for the purpose of sending a satellite into orbit. The Western Nations are condemning this act as they feel it is only a front for the testing of long range missiles, heightening tensions being felt amongst the neighbouring countries.
In an unrelated story, I saw a news report on the debris created by the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan in 2011. The report stated that from the beginning of 2013, the west coast of USA and Canada will be overcome by a deluge of debris which has travelled across the Pacific Ocean to reach North America. Estimates for the amount of debris expected range from anywhere between 14 million tons up to possibly as much as 25 million tons of debris. In fact, there has never been any recorded data of so much floating debris being produced in such a short span that the scientists are even in the dark as to what effect it will have on our coastlines. The best case scenario is that the vast majority of the debris will have filtered out to the bottom of the sea, where it will be broken down over time with minimal effects both financially as well as ecologically. In the worst case scenario, scientists are fearing that the vast amount of plastic material that was washed away be the tsunami will eventually enter our food change causing serious damages to not only wildlife, but to our own health as well.
These are only a couple of random news items which I happened to catch yesterday. Aside from this, there is still ongoing unrest in the Middle East, there is ongoing tension between Japan and China over territorial claims, and the list of worrisome news items seem to go on and on.
In such a world of chaos and uncertainty, it is important for us to try to find peace in the New Year. Reflecting on this, I’d like to share with you a story of how I spent my New Year’s when I was still a student studying in Japan. It was one of the first years I was in Japan; I spent the New Years at my mother’s home temple in Kyoto. On New Year’s Eve, the family has a tradition beginning with a service at the stroke of midnight New Year’s Eve. First, we gathered in the main Hondo of the temple and held a service before the shrine of Amida Buddha. Then, the whole family moved to the family Buddhist Altar room where a short service was held in front of their own personal shrine.
At the end of the service we sang together one verse from a Gatha (Buddhist Song). Having not heard this particular song growing up in Canada, I had no idea where it came from, or what it was about. Subsequently, I found out the song is titled “Raisan-ka”, which is translated as “Song of Praise (to Amida)” and the particular verse that my mother’s family sang is the third verse of the song, written by Lady Kinuko Ohtani, the mother to Zen Mon Sama, Kosho Ohtani. “Raisan-ka” has become one of my personal favourite Gathas as it always reminds me of the New Year’s service at my mother’s home temple. More importantly, this simple verse reminds us how we, as Jodo Shinshu followers can lead our life daily. Rather than thinking about the course of a whole year, it is important to be mindful of the moment, understanding peace comes about when we realize that no matter what is happening in our lives, we are within the Great Compassion of the Oneness of the Universe which is defined by Amida Buddha. What a wonderful year it would be if we were all were able to do as Lady Ohtani stated, “Rejoicing in this peaceful day, I bow before the Buddha in gratitude”.
As we usher in the year 2013, may I thank you for sharing the Nembutsu path during the past year and may you have a meaningful year embraced in the power of Namu Amida Butsu.
Grant Ikuta, Bishop
Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada
Dr. Kawamura receiving the Order of the University of Calgary in June 2010
Danny Fisher has posted interviews with two men who knew Rev. Leslie Kawamura very well. The article was written for "Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly Online" and features John Harding, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Lethbridge, and a co-editor of "Wild Geese: Buddhism in Canada" and Charles Prebish, the recently-retired Charles Redd Chair in Religious Studies at Utah State University, and author of "Luminous Passage: The Practice and Study of Buddhism in America".
The highlight of my time in Calgary was our daily lunches. Usually, around noon, Leslie and I would meet in his office, often with other faculty members and students included, and just brainstorm about all things Buddhist. Nothing was ever pre-planned. We just spontaneously discussed whatever came up on any specific day. It didn’t matter whether it was Vinaya or Vimalakirti, monasticism or meditation, the discussions were lively and free-spirited. --CHARLES PREBISH
READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT BUDDHADHARMA...
Rev. Leslie Kawamura’s influence goes beyond his role with the Raymond temple and includes important innovations at the Honpa Buddhist Temple of Lethbridge from the end of the 1960s to the mid-1970s when he took an academic position. This history deserves more attention as does the more recent period in which Leslie served Jodo Shinshu in Canada as the Director of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada – Living Dharma Centre. --JOHN HARDING
In his 82 years, Vancouver entrepreneur Cy Saimoto toiled in an internment camp, built a company and shook hands with an emperor.
The arc of his life – from the dark days when his family was uprooted from the coast, to his giddy delight when Japan’s royal couple visited Vancouver in 2009 – mirrors the trajectory of the Japanese-Canadian experience in British Columbia over the past century. He has died at 82.
“We always told him that he was living history,” says his daughter, Laura Saimoto. “His life and the immigrant experience and rebuilding after the war – he lived through that whole era.”
Cy Hisao Saimoto was born in 1928 in Steveston, B.C. fishing village that at the turn of the century was a beacon for Japanese immigrants. The sixth of 10 children, he grew up in a community where families were large, work days were long and children played at the ocean’s edge. The sounds of Japanese rang through village streets and shops, making Steveston as much of a ‘Japantown’ – and as much as a ghetto – as Vancouver’s Powell Street enclave.
His parents insisted that Saimoto and his siblings attend Japanese school after regular, English-language school – something that he balked at, preferring to play outside. But it likely played a role in his lifetime commitment to Japanese language and culture.
By the time he was a teenager, the family was well-established. His grandfather owned four fish-packing boats, which were leased to fishing crews that numbered 200 in peak season. The family owned a car and lived in a two-storey house with a big front porch.
Those prosperous days ended on Dec. 7, 1941, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. On Dec. 8, more than a thousand Japanese-Canadian fishing boats were impounded. By early 1942, mass evacuations had begun. The Saimotos, along with hundreds of other families, lost nearly everything they owned.
For the rest of his days, Saimoto would be haunted by the image of Japanese-Canadians, including family friends, crowded in the stables of Vancouver’s Hastings Park, from where rail cars would carry them to ghost towns in the interior.
The Saimotos wound up in the former gold-mining town of Minto. At Minto, Saimoto’s grandfather and father were soon running logging crews. He worked as a labourer – clearing brush, loading and unloading trucks, slinging blocks of ice in an icehouse. He finished high school in Revelstoke.
The family returned to the coast in 1949, a year after Japanese Canadians were granted the right to vote and by which time, the last remaining restrictions on Japanese-Canadians’ movement in Canada had finally been lifted.
Saimoto’s father and grandfather started over, launching an import-export business that specialized in shipping B.C. salmon roe to Japan. Saimoto also went into business, with the Great West Paper Box Co. Ltd., in 1955. He served as chairman until he died and the company is now run by his two daughters.
Told that golf was popular with businessmen, he took up the sport, becoming one of the first non-white members of the Point Grey Golf & Country Club. Around the same time, Saimoto also went house-shopping, determined to find a home where his parents could live out their days in comfort. He and his father went door-to-door in Kerrisdale, a well-to-do neighbourhood on the city’s west side. Many homeowners slammed the door in his face, saying they did not want to sell to a ‘Jap,’ Laura recounts. Finally, one homeowner was receptive, saying his money was as good as anybody else’s. Saimoto bought that house in 1955 and lived there for the rest of his life. Until he became ill in June, he went to his office daily to keep an eye on company affairs.
He devoted countless hours to the Vancouver Buddhist Temple and the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Hall. The school and hall – in the heart of Vancouver’s Japantown – opened in 1906 and have operated since, except between 1942 and 1952, when the property was confiscated and used first by the Canadian military and then by local businesses.
In 1953, after a lengthy campaign by Japanese-Canadians in Vancouver, half of the property was turned over to the community. Of all the assets seized from Japanese-Canadians during the war, the school is the only property to have been returned.
As the years passed, Vancouver’s Japantown fell on hard times, squeezed by the poverty and social problems of the Downtown Eastside. Saimoto, however, never gave up on the neighbourhood. He spearheaded the construction of a new temple and an expansion of the school.
In 2009, Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited Canada, marking the first time that the Emperor had been to Canada since 1953, when he visited as the crown prince. When the royal couple’s official itinerary was announced, it did not include a visit to the Language School in what had become a rough-edged neighbourhood.
Aghast, Saimoto and others launched a fierce campaign, writing politicians, tapping connections in Vancouver and Japan and insisting that the historic school merited a stop on the royal tour. After weeks of behind-the-scenes lobbying, those efforts paid off, with officials even acquiescing to Saimoto’s insistence that more people be allowed inside the school to meet the royal couple and that there be minimal restrictions on crowds outside.
Cy Saimoto, Honourary Chairman of the Japanese Language School,
raises his arms while escorting visiting Emperor Akihito of Japan (L) in Vancouver, B.C. July 12, 2009. --Reuters
When the royal couple visited the site, Saimoto was there to greet them. As the couple departed in a chauffeured limousine, waving at the crowds that lined the street in front of the school, he could not stop grinning.
“It meant a lot to the people, to the Japanese community. And the Downtown Eastside. Because the first Japanese settlement was here,” he said at the time.
In November, 2009, he travelled to Japan to receive the Order of the Rising Sun from the Emperor, in recognition of a lifetime of volunteering in the Japanese-Canadian community.
He leaves his wife Ritsu and his children Mark, Laura and Debbie.
Namu Amida Butsu
READ CY SAIMOTO'S OBITUARY...
READ AN INTERVIEW WITH CY SAIMOTO FROM THE BULLETIN...
Sensei Ulrich played a major role at the 2010 Alberta Buddhist Conference. The Manitoba Buddhist Church minister opened the conference, with discussions on "Engaged Buddhism". He also closed the weekend's events by giving a dharma talk at the Sunday service.
Over one-thousand people took in the event on October 29-31, which included a Buddhist film festival and Calgary Buddhist Temple's Shinran Shonin's 750th Memorial celebration.
32nd Annual Alberta Buddhist Conference
With Jodo Shinshu Internationally, our own Alberta Temples are together this year commemorating 750 years of the life and teachings of Shinran Shonin!
The Alberta 750 Conference is October 28th - 31st, 2010 in Calgary. This year will feature the Calgary Buddhist Film Festival, speakers on Engaged Buddhism (including Manitoba minister, Fredrich Ulrich), Buddhist discussion break-outs, art from local artists, and social activities for the young and young-at-heart! Through this Celebration, we hope to again set in motion the dharma through our Vision of 'living, learning and teaching a life of joy and gratitude through Jodo Shinshu Buddhism'.
If you are reading this, you are Invited and welcome!"
By the way, great poster for this year's Buddhist Film Series.
LIST OF MOVIES BEING SCREENED AT THE CALGARY BUDDHIST FILM SERIES...
MORE INFORMATION AT THE CALGARY BUDDHIST TEMPLE WEBSITE...
There is another event planned for August 15, 2010. CPR and Parks Canada will be designing a memorial monument at Roger's Pass. The 1910 Avalanche Committee wish to have an Obon Service and Bon Odori to be part of the centennial events. Sensei Doctor Leslie Kawamura of Calgary will be in Revelstoke to perform the service.
Should you be planning your holidays around this time, please try to include a trip to Revelstoke and take in this event.
-With information from Roy Inouye
GO TO THE REVELSTOKE TIMES-REVIEW TO SEE A SLIDE SHOW, VIDEO AND ARTICLE OF THE EVENT...
The Woman's Spirit Connection is a support group that includes women of all faiths and ethnic derivations. The evening of meditation was a success because the women were well prepared by their years together. Rev. Ulrich claims that it was one of the best Loving-Kindness sessions that he has ever experienced. And while there were some participants who were new to this kind of practice, the positive relationships in this spiritual group readily included these 'beginners' in the activities.
Many of the participants have since reported to have continued these meditations on their own as an important component of their own private practice. It turns out it was an important two hours for everybody.
VISIT THE WOMAN SPIRIT CONNECTION IN KANSAS...
LEARN MORE ABOUT LOVING-KINDNESS...
Living in San Francisco, Socho Koshin Ogui is the writer of the popular column “Nyozegamon,” which appears in the Hokubei community newspaper and website.
The English translation for "Nyozegamon" is "I have heard it in this way". This refers to the passing down of stories from generation to generation.
Recent column topics include "Finding Happiness in the Midst of Misfortune" and "Why Does She Say She Has Nothing When She Has Plenty?".
Upon his appointment as Bishop of the the Buddhist Churches of America, Ogui was asked what his goals were as Bishop. Ogui said that his personal goal is to convey the wonderful nature of Buddhist tradition in the U.S. Further adding, "To do this, we must convey the traditions in a manner that is convincing to Americans."
Nyozegamon is a wonderful way of communicating these ideas.
READ BISHOP OGUI'S COLUMNS...
The gong-like sound of a bell called a Kansho reverberates throughout the hondo. The conversations in the room begin to trail off. After a few more strikes and silent pauses, the bell is hit rapidly. The chatter fades to a silence and the only sound left in the room is the lingering ring.The bell stops.Three ministers, all men, are dressed in long black robes. Around their necks, they each have a kesa, tightly folded cloth made from the robes that Buddhist monks traditionally wear. They sit in chairs on the sides of the altar and begin to chant. Their voices together create a drone that engulfs the room.
Courtesy Ekoji Buddhist Temple Dharma School in Fairfax County, Virginia
Caught in the middle are soldiers. Many soldiers are religious. In fact, right now, there are 1,900 Buddhists serving in the U.S. (Army Times).
A great blog that helps sort this out for many is the Buddhist Military Sangha. It is an unofficial online resource for Buddhists in the United States Armed Forces. One of the frequent contributors to the site is a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Priest named Jeanette Shin. Shin was ordained at the Nishi Hongwanji, in Kyoto, Japan, in 2003. She was endorsed to become a military chaplain by the Buddhist Churches of America and served in the US Marine Corps from 1988-1992. She is a minister of the Buddhist Church of Florin, near Sacramento, CA.
How does she justify her role in the military?
Yes, there have always been armies and police, and there has to be some provision for defence. Even were we living in a world of wise rulers, protection is necessary. The Buddha speaks of this, as does Dogen. Aggression exists within each of us. But our wars today day wars are hardly the work of wise rulers (Neither were most wars in the past.). Whatever the issues may be, however just, the killing is fed by arms dealers and vast corporations who profit from the various technologies of killing. And by politicians driven by self-interest in raw form. And even by ourselves in a willingness to preserve privilege over groups and people elsewhere in the world.Having said all that, I would add that military personnel and families I have met often embody the highest principles of honour, duty, and self-sacrifice. They try to live according to what I might call “practice,” for the sake of their country and people. It is essential to hold this in mind.
I can’t help wondering, maybe naively, what would come of a policy that replaces retribution with generosity, that uses even a portion of the trillions we spend on war and destruction at home (prisons) and abroad for education, health, housing, and food? I would sign up in a New York minute as a chaplain to that kind of army.
“It’s a laid back Buddhist. That’s the way I like to say it, laid back Buddhist, because traditional Buddhist you are really trying to improve yourself and you’re working towards your enlightenment. Then as you move in that direction you find out how difficult it is to obtain enlightenment on your own. As you find that out Jodo Shinshu Buddhism then you realize that we all are enlightened. We are all working in that direction. But we do it with the help of the other power which is known as Amida Buddha, which is what our whole shrine is dedicated to. Amida Buddha is not really a person per say, it’s a personification of an ideal or concept which is love, wisdom and passion all rolled into one,” said Rev. Jim.
“That’s what life really is because every time something good happens there is kind something bad is lurking or just happened. The best example of this is when the Buddha was out during a ceremony for planting the crops in the spring when he was a young child or teenager they were ploughing out the fields and this was important to the village, because this provided crops for the rest of the year. They were ploughing the fields and the Buddha noticed you know were getting all this good stuff but there is also bugs and plants and animals dying out there because all the sudden they were exposed. The birds come down and eat the bugs, the lizards jump on the birds and it goes on. So even during this great time and celebration there is this stuff going on that isn’t so good and that’s was it really is. Things aren’t going to be perfect, and the more we want them to be perfect the more frustrated we are going to become. If we just accept things as they are then life kind of makes sense,” said Rev. Joe.
Jenny Setsuko Nishimura was the wife of Rev. Hideo Nishimura, the first minister of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple. She would have celebrated her 100th birthday in June 2009. Even with her passing into nirvana earlier in the year, her life continues to resonate in our hearts because of her selfless service.
Jenny's poem was discovered by her niece, Tomoko Tatsumi. Bishop Orai Fujikawa graciously wrote the kanji and it now hangs in the hondo as a reminder... to care and celebrate life in our temple.
READ MORE ABOUT JENNY NISHIMURA...
Poster in the lobby
Sensei Ulrich introduces the film with a brief history of Buddhism and politics in Myanmar
Sensei Ulrich meets with the audience after the film
The Manitoba Buddhist Temple is grateful that the Winnipeg Film Group invited us to participate and hope to continue working together on future projects.
VISIT THE WINNIPEG CINEMATHEQUE WEBSITE...
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?
VISIT THE CALGARY BUDDHIST TEMPLE WEB SITE...
SEE THE TOP 100 BUDDHIST FILMS AT DHARMAFLIX....
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.
From the October issue of the Hikari - Newsletter of the Buddhist Federation of Alberta:
As everyone is aware, the Taber Buddhist Church has been sold with possession by the new buyer to take place on October 1st. Monday, September 17th was a sad day for Taber members as a group of volunteers gathered to dismantle the Butsudan. The only bright spot was that The Galt Museum has indicated that it will be honoured to accept donation of the Butsudan and will develop a display where it will be available to members well into the future. The kansho (bell), reputed to have the best sound of all the bells in southern Alberta has been selected for the new temple.
Ovolio writes in his conclusion:
It's something to think about as we continue into the future.
The difficult situation that the MBC (Montreal Buddhist Church) finds itself in today is largely a consequence of the fact that the experience and function of Jodo Shinshu in North America has been more or less the opposite of other Buddhist schools that migrated here in the twentieth century, such as Zen and Tibetan Buddhism. Where others were welcomed by and opened up to affluent North American culture, Jodo Shinshu was the focal point of an oppressed, alienated and far from wealthy demographic. Even its Christianization, paradoxically, was part of the effort to preserve a Japanese national consciousness. However, with this experience receding further from the present reality for Japanese Canadians and turning more and more into history, Jodo Shinshu temples and churches no longer need to function as the anchors of their communities’ social life and culture. If the Montreal Buddhist Church and others like it are to survive, they will have to shed the skin of their former functions and discover a new niche in North American society.
We would also like to thank Calgary for creating at link on their web site to us. So right back at you, go to the Calgary Buddhist Temple web site for more information on Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in the Calgary area.
In the next phase of this web site, we hope to introduce more people to the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism. This will be a place for the editors of this web site to share their thoughts, web sites, and recent news of the world.