Address of the Addressless
Do you know the new address of the temple? You might say it is 39 Tecumseh.

But, where exactly is Tecumseh? To answer we might add R3E 0J8. Now we got it, or do we? You cannot help someone find a place by reciting the postal code. So, more is needed, such as ‘near the HSC.’ Still, that might only help a few, certainly not anyone new to Winnipeg. Pity the poor tourist.

So, where exactly is the otera? Believe it or not, I found it recently in the in an article written by a woman scientist at MIT: 39 Tecumseh, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 0J8, Canada, North America, Planet 3, Solar System, Orion Spur on the Sagittarius Spiral Arm, Milky Way, Local Cluster, Virgo Super Cluster, Universe, Multi verse. Do not write this on a letter, unless your post has a sense of humour. Also, if you use it for a donation envelope, the donation might end up on the space station.

The scientist concluded; “ Earth is but a spec, the cosmic equivalent of a subatomic particle hovering within an immensity spanning billions of light years”

That address is the mega-view-- an over-all view of things. It is still not complete. What about the micro-view? We could write out the cells, molecules, atoms, particles and subatomic particles to the left of 39 Tecumseh. That would be exactly accurate, but would involve all the paper in Canada to get it written down. Therefore, our struggle to be absolutely correct and accurate is limited by our lack of ability to see in all directions at once. It is also limited by our resources, in this case trees from which we would have to get the paper for this endless project.

What we require is a kind of skilful of common sense that helps us adjust to the necessary tolerance for error that common life requires. In reality, in a world in constant flux, we cannot have a fixed address. It is just a social, practical convention that can never nail down reality. Thus, we are all homeless, houseless, address less. We live out our lives as parentheses in Infinity! In our Jodo Shinshu, we would say that our true address is the Pure Land.

When we come to a Buddhist Temple, we are entering a place with no absolute address. It offers us a chance to experience what it means to just be sitting there, being nobody, doing nothing, going nowhere. In this experience, we are in the embrace of the Amida who offers us fearlessness & grace so that we can live with courage in a world that takes things like addresses and identities all too seriously.

The key to living a life as a parentheses in Infinity, while still in the world of delusion, is what we call the nembutsu. Namo is our taking refuge (Namo can be translated as ‘refuge.’) Amida literally means ‘the Infinite’. Buddha means ‘awake’. We provide the namo; Amida provides the awake- a gift of his compassion and wisdom to us caught up in delusions of everyday life. The nembutsu stands at the crossroads where the Ultimate Absolute and the pragmatics of everyday life overlap.

The Way of the Buddha, as you know, has some very practical suggestions on how to cope with our world where the delusions of ignorance, hatred and greed seem to hold sway. The details will have to be the topic of another Dharma talk.

For now, I would like to close with a quote from Shinran: “I do not know what the two, good and bad, really mean. I could say I knew good, if I knew good as thoroughly and completely as the Buddha (Tathagata). I could also say I knew bad, if I knew bad as thoroughly and completely as the Buddha. But in this foolish being filled with blind passions, and in an impermanent world like a burning house, all things are empty and vain, and thus untrue. Only the nembutsu is true, real and sincere.”

You are welcome to join us at the temple any time, especially now that you know our true address!

Sensei Ulrich
September 20, 2009