Dhammapada, a collection of verses of Shakyamuni Buddha
The fasting Buddha, receiving the gift of Sujata in the bottom relief Candara, 2nd century CE
Blossoms: 58 - 59
As in a pile of rubbish cast by the side of the highway a lotus might grow clean-smelling pleasing the heart, so in the midst of the rubbish-like, people run-of-the-mill and blind, there dazzles with discernment the disciple of the Rightly Self-Awakened One.
Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta, Canada
Rev. Jeff Haines
Rev. Jeff Haines is a member of the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta. He received his Tokudo ordination in the summer of 2019 in Kyoto, Japan. Jeff is a father to three daughters and enjoys coaching basketball in his community. He lives in Brooks, Alberta, Canada. The Cleveland Buddhist Temple welcomes our Canadian Dharma friend to for his first visit to our temple. Welcome Rev. Jeff!
“The faults of others are easy to see but the faults of our own are difficult to recognize. If one sees that he has a fault he must realize that the fault must be very grave indeed for him to recognize it himself; thus, he must take steps to correct his fault. Because it is difficult for us to see many of our faults, we should listen to the advice of others.” - Rennyo Shonin
This quote was taken from Goichidai Kikigaku, A Record of Things Heard. It is a collection of sayings Rennyo’s disciples had recorded. I believe it is a fitting quote for virtually any time and place, but recently came to mind while watching a TV show. The show is called Schmigadoon! and is a musical. It stars Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key who are in a failing relationship. They decide to go on a backpacking trip to try and rekindle what brought them together in the first place, only to find themselves eventually trapped in a magical town called Schmigadoon!
Soon after entering, they realize the only way for them to leave is to find true love. It is a wonderful comedy full of great musical pieces that leaves the viewer feeling happy, which can be a much needed break from the current state of the world.
What got me connecting this TV show with Buddhism was the evolution of the characters. At first neither of them wants to reflect on their role in the failing aspects of their relationship and largely blame the other. With what might be an obvious ending, the two finally self-reflect, realize the error of their ways and attempt to rekindle the relationship. I’m not certain if there will be a second season, but it did leave on a cliff-hanger.
I realized at the end that the two characters were forced to finally confront their own faults after having only seen the faults of the other for so long. Being trapped in Schmigadoon! they finally had to realize they played a part in the failing relationship and then had to take steps to correct their own faults.
We all don’t have the privilege of being trapped in an alternate universe to give us the time to realize this, but we have the Dharma. For us it is through the teachings of the Buddha that we are given the opportunity for self-reflection and change. The Eightfold Path and the Six Paramitas are teachings that we can turn to for guidance. Although within the Shin Buddhist context they won’t lead us to enlightenment, they will allow us to consider changing our behaviours.
As Buddhists we know change is guaranteed, it is the lesson of impermanence. What we often fail to do is reflect on our own role and faults in our relationships with others and how our actions contribute to suffering. Whether it be in our marriages, family relations or work environment, to how we live as communities and deal with issues facing us as a global community, we all contribute. As Buddhists we must all continue to challenge ourselves to live a life based on the teachings of the Dharma and continue to self-reflect on our own faults.
Rev. Jeff Haines
Excerpts of Buddhist voices across teachings, across continents, across time.
Note: Bodhi Day is celebrated on December 8.
Bodhi Day commemorates the day Siddhartha Gautama awakened to enlightenment and was thereafter called Sakyamuni Buddha. Some Buddhists traditions include sharing rice and milk porridge on Bodhi Day. Why? The image of the fasting Buddha at the top includes the story of how he received the gift of Sujata, to sustain his life.
Please see announcements for one version of this recipe to enjoy on December 8.
THE LIGHT THAT SHINES FROM THE BODHI TREE
Rev. Henry Toryo Adams
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the month of December is a time when the days get shorter and shorter and we find ourselves spending more time in the darkness of night. As the darkness of the winter season arrives, many of the world’s spiritual traditions celebrate holidays and religious observances inspired by the light of transcendent wisdom… In the Buddhist traditions of Japan, we observe Bodhi Day on December 8 in commemoration of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni’s realization of perfect enlightenment sitting beneath the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya, India around 2,500 years ago.
I am reminded that the branches of evergreen trees have been used as winter decorations by many cultures throughout history and are certainly not exclusive to any one religious tradition. For example, it is customary in Japan to welcome the New Year by adorning the home with pine branches, which are treasured for remaining green and vibrant throughout the year. Pine, bamboo, and plum blossoms make up the traditional Japanese New Year decorations called sho-chiku-bai.
The tree under which Prince Siddhartha was sitting and meditating when he realized perfect enlightenment has great significance in the story of the Buddha’s awakening and is called the Bodhi Tree. “Bodhi” means wisdom or awakening in Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language in which the teachings of the Buddha have been recorded and passed down. Prior to sitting in meditation under the Bodhi Tree, Siddhartha had spent six years pursuing extreme ascetic practices, fasting constantly and exposing his body to the harsh elements of the North Indian wilderness. One day his body finally gave out and he collapsed from exhaustion. At that time, a young woman named Sujata happened upon the ascetic in his weakened state and out of concern for his well-being revived him by giving him some milk to drink. In receiving Sujata’s gift, he realized that the path to awakening is realized by pursuing the Middle Way between extreme life-denying asceticism and indulging in the attachment to sensual pleasures.
With renewed energy from the nourishing milk, he accepted the gift of a cushion of grass and sat beneath the Bodhi Tree that would provide him with shelter from the elements. As he settled into his seat in the shade of the tree, he resolved not to leave that spot until he had conquered all delusion and awakened to the true nature of reality. He sat in meditation through the night and finally realized perfect enlightenment when he saw the Morning Star appear in the sky.
Because the Bodhi Tree provided shelter from the elements, it expresses the Buddha’s rejection of the extreme ascetic practices of exposing his body to harsh sunlight and driving rain. The Bodhi Tree represents the Buddha’s embracing of the Middle Way as the correct path leading to enlightenment.
In this month of December when we recall the story of Sakyamuni Buddha’s awakening and reflect on the example of his life, I take great pleasure in seeing beautifully illuminated trees in homes, businesses, and public places. For me, these trees call to mind the Buddha’s instructions to seek the Middle Way between the extremes of life-denial and indulgence. In this season of light shining in the darkness, I feel the light of the Buddha’s wisdom shining forth from the moment when he realized perfect awakening sitting under the Bodhi Tree. That light of wisdom shines across two millennia and distant oceans to illuminate each moment of my life. Shinran celebrates the wonderful light of the Buddha’s wisdom in the Hymn of True Shinjin and the Nembutsu (Shoshinge)
Everywhere he casts light immeasurable, boundless, Unhindered, unequaled, light-lord of all brilliance, Pure light, joyful light, the light of wisdom, Light constant, inconceivable, light beyond speaking, Light excelling sun and moon he sends forth, illumining countless worlds; The multitudes of beings all receive the radiance.
(Collected Works of Shinran, p. 69)
Namo Amida Butsu Rev. Henry Toryo Adams Sam Mateo Buddhist Temple
9:45 AM: Sitting mediation, all levels, including beginners
10:30 AM: Shin Buddhist Sangha Gathering and Service: Rev. Anita Tokuzen Kazarian
December Memorial Service
Friday, December 31 – New Year’s Eve Service:
2:00 PM: New Year’s Eve (afternoon) - Joint Year’s Eve Service
Cleveland Buddhist Temple and True Names Sangha invite you to a share New Year’s Eve afternoon Service. Our combined service will include traditions unique to each path and give us an opportunity to quietly contemplate the events of the past year and express our gratitude for all we have received.
The Sangha, one of the Three Treasures of Buddhism, is ours to experience
Join our Sangha gathering one time to explore, share and understand how Buddhist teachings benefit us and offer an alternative way of living this life, an alternative that liberates us from dukkha (suffering).
This is an opportunity to reflect on the Buddha Dharma, to understand how we move from dukkha to peace and how its wisdom and compassion brings calmness to this life.
What happens at a gathering?
We gather as an informal group. We may do sitting meditation, chanting meditation, recitations, pay respect to those who have gone before us, to one another and the Buddha Dharma (the teachings). The Sangha, one of the three treasures of Buddhism, gives us community and time to understand how Buddhism works in our daily lives. We may share our thoughts, experiences or not.
What does not happen?
We do not worship, we do not have petitionary prayer, nor do we have rules or regulations to judge us from one another.
We follow the State of Ohio guidelines for Covid-19 safety and precautions.
Our gathering includes the name of those who have passed before us. To include the name of a loved one or friend, please email Rev. Anita.
Please contact Rev. Anita for visits to assisted living, nursing homes or hospitals for those who cannot attend the service.
Bodhi Day Rice and Milk – one of many different versions, source is unknown