Dhammapada, a collection of verses of Shakyamuni Buddha
Seated Buddha, Northern India, Mathura Kushan period (c. AD 80-320) Cleveland Museum of Art
Just as from a heap of flowers
many garland strands can be made,
one born & mortal
- with what’s born & mortal -
many a skillful thing.
Supervising Minister Cleveland Buddhist Temple
Welcome Rev. Ron Miyamura
The Cleveland Buddhist Temple welcomes Rev. Ron Miyamura, our Supervising Minister and Resident Minister of Midwest Buddhist Temple. Rev. Ron’s efforts to support and guide the CBT during these uncertain times makes our presence in Cleveland possible. Thank you Rev. Ron and welcome back to your Cleveland home!
What does it mean to be a Buddhist?? What does it mean to be a Shin Buddhist??
Basic questions, and we all wonder from time to time….
To be a Buddhist is to understand this world as it really is. The historical Buddha observed the world and saw the world as it really is…not the way he wanted it to be, not because someone told him, and not the way I want it to be.
Enlightenment is to observe the world as it is….
that means to understand that nothing is permanent…everything changes.
That everything is inter-related and inter-connected…causes, conditions and effects…Karma, is everywhere.
That human life is limited and temporary…
And so much more….
Shin Buddhism is that way that Shinran Shonin understood the depth of human limitations and found a way for everyone to be assured of Enlightenment.
This is so profound and so fundamental….everyone will assuredly become a Buddha. This is so different than other schools of Buddhism and other religions in general.
Other religions and other schools of Buddhism tries to mold people into a certain way of thinking so that only a few can become the chosen few…some sort of elite that can enter Heaven or become Enlightened.
Shinran saw that the boundless, inexhaustible, the infinite Storehouse of Merit accumulated by Dharmakara Bodhisattva in fulfilling his Vows becomes Amida Buddha…and this infinite Storehouse of Merit overcomes all human limitations, thus everyone becomes a Buddha….not just a few. There are no exceptions….we all are assured of becoming a Buddha. This teaching was so radical and even Shinran knew it could easily be mis-understood and easily distorted that it was almost a secret teaching.
But today, it is much more open and we are free to express the Joy of Shin Buddhism.
We call this the Vow Power or Other Power. We can receive the benefit from this infinite Storehouse of Merit when we die and enter the spiritual realm of the Pure Land or when we are awakened in this life at the moment of Shinjin…that moment of Awakening.
As Shin Buddhists, we have to realize our limitations and at the same time we have to prepare ourselves to receive the Wisdom and Compassion that is Amida Buddha. Of course, this seems counter-intuitive because we all think I am a good person and can earn or work towards Enlightenment. Shinran is the one who saw that humans are just too limited and so ego-driven that Enlightenment by my own efforts are useless.
That is why as Shin Buddhists, we come just as we are…we can only hope that my ego-self does not get in the way of receiving Wisdom and Compassion from Amida Buddha.
We come as we are and stay awhile…to Listen to the Dharma and to be around other Shin Buddhists. We only have to be human, with all our own limitations and ego-driven desires…..and then, we have to be able to laugh at our folly and limitations….we can’t let our limitations get us down.
We have to be able laugh at ourselves as we let go of our ego-self.
We have to understand how limited I am, we have to realize that my ego-driven self will only lead to a dead end. We have to rely on the Wisdom and Compassion of Amida Buddha.
This is why we do not have any requirements to be a Shin Buddhists because it would be useless anyway. We don’t have any dogma that one has to follow. We just do the best we can.
As we go thru life, we have to take responsibility for our thoughts, our words and our actions. We just do the best we can.
I hope the Dharma has helped us get thru the Pandemic and it has guided us away from the extremes…it has kept us away from serious and deep depression, it has kept us away from great sadness and sorrow….
The Dharma reminds us of the Middle Way, or the Middle Path….as a guide to keep us from avoiding extremes. This is the human way, to stay grounded and to rely on the Buddhist guidelines to get thru each day.
The Dharma tells us that everything in this world changes,
the Dharma guides us and reminds us that everything is inter-related and inter-connected;
the Dharma shows us to be grateful for what we already have and to appreciate each and every day;
the Dharma expresses the kindness and Compassion that allows us to live life fully,
and the Dharma teaches us that saying Namo Amida Butsu brings us peace and comfort.
Let us allow the Buddha-Dharma to enter our lives…..to let go of the Ego-self and to let our spiritual self be embraced with Wisdom and Compassion that is Amida Buddha.
Namo Amida Butsu …. With gratitude and kindness beyond words.
Rev. Ron Miyamura
Excerpts of Buddhist voices across teachings, across continents, across time.
THE POISONED ARROW by Kenneth Kenshin Tanaka
Suppose a poisoned arrow pierced a man, and his relatives and friends got together to call a surgeon to have the arrow removed and the wound treated. But what if the wounded man objects, saying, “Wait a minute. Before you pull it out, I want to know who shot this arrow. Was it a man or a woman? Was it someone of noble birth or was it a peasant? What was the bow made of? Was it a big bow or a small bow that shot the arrow? Was it made of wood or bamboo? What was the bowstring made of? Was it made of fiber or of gut? Was the arrow made of rattan or of reed? What feathers were used? Before you extract the arrow, I want to know all about these things.”
Before all this information can be secured, no doubt, the poison will have had time to circulate through his body and the man may die. The first duty is to remove the arrow, and prevent its poison from spreading.
Comment: The arrow represents suffering. If he wants to live and be happy, the man should pull out the arrow rather than waste time by asking all these intellectual questions. These questions not only do not help his predicament but delay pulling out the arrow, putting his life in grave danger.
Buddhism is a “first-person” religion, which means that I need to acknowledge the fact that “I am shot” and then I need to concentrate on pulling that arrow out. Some of you may feel that you are not yet shot. If that is the case, more power to you.
However, in the long course of life, you will certainly be pierced by at least one arrow. Before this happens it might help you to understand what Buddhism has to say, for you will be better prepared to pull out the poison arrow of suffering.
And if you feel that you have been shot, like many of us do, let us then concentrate on pulling that arrow out. This means to learn and practice the teachings earnestly as your own urgent, existential problem. You should not be stuck asking useless questions, which are merely intellectual in nature
Excerpt from Jewels: An Introduction to American Buddhism by Kenneth Kenshin Tanaka.
9:45 AM: Sitting mediation, all levels, including beginners
Shin Buddhist Service: Rev. Anita Tokuzen Kazarian
November Memorial Service
To include the name of a loved one or friend in the November Shin Buddhist Monthly Memorial Service, please email Rev. Anita with their name. This is an expression of gratitude for those who have come before us and does not require they be Buddhist.
If you know a person in assisted living, a nursing home or hospital that misses hearing the Buddha Dharma, please contact us.
We welcome your comments and questions. Let us know what you think
Center for Buddhist Education - September - November