View in browser
Cleveland Buddhist Temple Newsletter

Dharma from the Forest City

Supervising Minister Rev. Ron Miyamura, 
Midwest Buddhist Temple

Contact Rev. Anita, Resident Tokudo Minister, CBT at:

December 19, 2020 Edition


Due to Covid–19, The Cleveland Buddhist Temple has suspended in person Shin Buddhist Services until further notice. Private services for weddings, memorials and funerals continue to be performed upon request.

Gautama Buddha Dhammapada (252)

It is easy to point out the mistakes of others,

but hard to admit one’s own mistakes.

Buddhism and the Presidential Pardon

The great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter on December 21 will appear to most people as one large star-like planet. The image below shows how their daily positions in the sky since October 2 are coming closer until December 21, when they will give the appearance of being one near the horizon. Now remember, Earth is a little over 93 million miles away from the sun. How close do you think Jupiter and Saturn will be to each other?

They look close, but only from our vantage point. That is what we usually forget. We think the sun rises and sets on our own vantage point. Who of you reading this was not 100% convinced of your political position in the presidential election of 2020? Is it remotely possible another view could also be legitimate?

We really aren’t much different from the ancients in that respect. In the 6th century B.C.E., ancient Greeks believed the Earth as center of the cosmos. In the 2nd century C.E. the Ptolemaic system showing the orbits of planets around the earth, geocentric system, was standardized. But, about 400 years earlier, around 200 B.C.E, Aristarchus of Samos, another ancient Greek said the sun was the center of the cosmos, heliocentric, and the stars were like other suns. But who listened to him? No one. He was not popular at all. How dare he argue with facts!

The Buddha taught us not to accept even what he said at face value, but to examine it for ourselves. How refreshing. Attachment is a cause of suffering. Is our egocentricity causing us to suffer? What worked at one point in our lives, may no longer be valid, but how attached are we, how stubborn are we against letting go?

If we traveled in time to 1514 when a Polish priest, Copernicus, was explaining the solar system as heliocentric we’d find the church issued a prohibition against his theory. Then in 1633 the Inquisition of Galileo found him “vehemently suspect of heresy,” sentencing him to house arrest until his death in 1642.

Buddhism is full of stories as guides to see our own egocentricity, even under threat of house arrest. Helping us get a glimpse of another reality that may serve us better, a reality not distorted by attachments.

Jupiter and Saturn will be 400 million miles apart from one another on December 21, 2020 –reality vs. appearances, for today at least.

Namo Amida Butsu.

In Gassho,

Rev. Anita

The Raft

Once there was a man on the long journey who came to a river.

He said to himself: “this side of the river is very difficult and

dangerous to walk on, and the other side seems easier and safer,

but how shall I get across?” So, he built a raft out of branches

and reeds and safely cross the river. Then he thought to

himself: “this raft has been very useful to me in crossing the

river; I will not abandon it to write on the bank but will carry it

along with me.” And thus he voluntarily assumed an unnecessary

burden. Can this man be called a wise man?

Majjhima Nikāya

The Fear of Misunderstanding What Is Right

Once we become convinced that something is right, we come to believe that the idea is our own and nobody else’s and that our idea is special and the only correct one even though it is just one of many.

Even if the idea is mistaken and we know it, we are reluctant to admit it. What is worse, if somebody else pointed out as a mistake, we have even more difficulty to admit it. Why? It is because the idea has become equal to us.

That our own idea is pointed out as mistaken is what we ourselves deny. If we deny it, it becomes difficult for us to live and thus we strive to defend ourselves. In order to defend ourselves, we believe that our idea must be corrected by all means. This is called “attachment,” which means our minds cling to our possessions or to ourselves.

When everybody clings to their own idea, uncontrollable conflicts occur. Since we believe that only we are right, we think that everybody else’s idea is wrong. People do not accept the ideas of others and vice versa. If so nobody can attain satisfaction. Nevertheless, nobody gets rid of their attachments. We prefer conflict and discontent rather than being denied the comfort of our convictions.

What Should Be Done Now?

When we reflect on ourselves, we will actually realize how hard it is to get rid of our attachments. As this parable of the raft indicates, we should not cling to even what is right and sometimes we should abandon it and leave it behind. It goes without saying that the same is true for what is wrong.

Then, how should we treat the raft?

“This raft enabled me to cross the river safely. What a useful raft, indeed! Now I will just leave it here or let it sink in the water and start walking towards my destination.”

Those who can think in this way are the ones who understand the raft properly. The raft is for crossing a river, not for shouldering after that. If the raft served its purpose, we should leave it behind with gratitude and without any attachment to it.

To Advance From One Subject To Another as We Learn

There are various stages of human development and each stage requires a proper teaching.

Even if the teaching was appropriate in the previous stage, it might be inappropriate for the next stage, which deserves a new and proper teaching. If we are wedded to the teaching for the previous stage and excessively cling to it, we might fail to adjust ourselves to a new stage.

Without fixation to the teachings of the previous stage, we should leave them behind with gratitude and should turn our attention to learn and practice a new teaching for each new stage.

Learning the Wisdom of Enlightenment, Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai and BDK America, 2019, Moraga.

Wasan 49

When, in even a single

thought-moment of sincere


You have attained shinjin and

joy, gladden by what you

have heard,

Bow down in homage at the


Of the Buddha of

Inconceivable Light!

(Excerpt from A Pure Land Teaching Jōdo Shinshū Song of True Shinjin… Compiled by Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii 1999.)

Cleveland Buddhist Temple

21600 Shaker Blvd, Shaker Heights
Ohio 44122 United States

You received this email because you signed up on our website.