In the month of October, the Jodo-Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada celebrate the work of the national organization. At one time it was called the Buddhist Churches of Canada (BCC) but as of a few years ago it is the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada, JSBTC. Presently there are some 10 temples in Canada with several Fellowships.
Our first temple was built in BC in the Greater Vancouver area over 100 years ago, making it the first Buddhist temple ever built in Canada. This was an important historical event. The first minister was Rev. Senju Sasaki and his wife Tomie, affectionately called „Bomori.‟
There was no national organization to represent the temples built in the Jodo-Shinshu tradition by the Japanese-Canadians at that time. This organization only came into existence in 1974. I remember this date because it is the same year |I became a Canadian citizen. I started my association with JSS in Canada through the Bishop Tsunoda who was the Bishop of Canada and with the good people of the Raymond congregation. In the US I had become a Buddhist in 1964 at the JSS temple in Denver with the same Rev. Tsunoda. He was from Nebraska where members of his family had a farm. After retirement he returned there where he entered Nirvana. I wrote to him several times after his retirement.
My experience gives evidence of the close interlocking relationships in the Buddhist community, especially in the JSS congregations. Much has happened since these first days including the internment camps, the loss of property and possessions, and the loss of a sense of cohesion. In 1974, the National Board was founded by a group of forward-looking people who saw the need for a national presence and monetary support. There was also the dispersal of the Japanese Canadian community from BC to Quebec. The size of our Canada and the separation between the pockets of the Japanese-Canadian communities in that large area led naturally to the need for national cohesion. The organization was called the Buddhist Churches of Canada. This was because often their temples were the first and only witness to the presence of Buddha Dharma in any given area.
Today, there are many kinds of Buddhism present coast to coast to coast. This plus the more positive acceptance of Buddhism in general changed the situation so much that the old name no longer reflected the situation of Buddhism in Canada. The present name of JSBTC makes who we are clearer to the general public. It also reflects more clearly the situation of Buddha Dharma as a whole in Canada. More changes are being undertaken to bring our organization in line with Canadian society and the new exciting presence of Buddhism in Canadian spiritual life together the general nation-wide drop in church attendance. To meet these new challenges we have a Board of Directors and a Ministerial Association with many supporting groups. Our present president is Dave Ohori and the Vice-President is our own Jim Hisanaga. Jim has served as national president at least twice and held various positions on the National Board over the years.
As I witness these two men and the Board at work, it seems that they all lead several lives at once. There is the usual daily email blizzard to deal with. Our large country makes long trips unavoidable. Conflicts and misunderstanding have to be resolved along with regional differences. But there are also wonderful up-lifting experiences like the hours of work on the part of the lay folk to keep the local temples going. There are also the yearly celebrations and the occasional visits by our Gomonshu—the head of our school of Buddhism with over 20 million followers worldwide. On October 30th we will celebrate national JSBTC in our own Manitoba Temple. We will read the names of our past ministers and past presidents. It is truly a day when we can express our gratitude for all those who made the last 100 years possible!
There will be envelops available to make donations to the work of the National Board. If you want you can donate to the national organization at:
Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada
11786 Fentiman Place, Richmond, BC
I would like to take this opportunity to give a vote of thanks to the men who are working to make the new emergency bathroom, the new cloak room and the new quiet room on our main floor. The work is proceeding well. The new rooms look fantastic.
As you may have noticed the west wall of the otera gets the most weather and the most sun. It was in quite bad shape so someone managed to arrange for it to be repaired and re-painted. The result is that it looks quite attractive and well-cared for. Thank you for this work.
Also, gratitude is due those who worked hard and long hours to make the Bazaar a success.
Thank you everyone.
October 23, 2011
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