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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 5, 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.

Bodhi Day

The Poems of Enlightenment appeared in the Dhammapada and other early Buddhist writing including Udānavarga and Jataka. The enlightenment is Siddhartha Gautama’s realization the “builder” of that house is attachment. “…you will not build this house again…  I have attained the destruction of craving.”


Around 2,600 years ago, under a bodhi tree, a very human 35 year old Siddhartha Gautama awakened to the truth of the universe and became a Buddha. Our Mahayana tradition celebrates that day as Bodhi Day, on December 8. This bodhi tree was in a town now called Bodhgaya. The image of the tree and its leaf are iconic in Buddhism’s history.

Before coming to that point, Siddhartha Gautama lived life at the extremes. He was born into wealth and experienced many excesses. After becoming aware of the human condition and not understanding it, he chose to leave his life of luxury to understand “why” we suffer.

His next extreme was a life of asceticism – the renunciation of all pleasures, including the deprivations of sufficient food and rest to sustain life. Near starvation, he did the unthinkable in those days; he accepted an offering of milk and rice, kheer, from a woman, Sujata.

We know he regained his strength and decided to sit under the shade of the bodhi tree. We know he sat there in a meditative state. Many accounts describe his encounter with Mara, “the bringer of death.” The sum total of Siddhartha’s life experiences may have been the struggles he encountered with Mara. Siddhartha, like us, came to that point in his life with “baggage.”

Today, we too struggle not only with the baggage we bring from our past, but also on how to live life in these times of a pandemic. We can choose to live it at extremes of feelings, relationships, or experiences as Siddhartha did. I’d like to think I walk the path of moderation, but do I?

Namo Amida Butsu.

In Gassho,
Rev. Anita

The Fragrance of Light, A Journey Into Buddhist Wisdom

John Paraskevopoulos

An excerpt from Immeasurable Life

The fundamental purpose of Pure Land Buddhism is to provide a vehicle for the spiritual needs of ordinary people who are not capable of special attainments and who find themselves burdened by the limitations and problems imposed by everyday life. It addresses itself directly to the person who is unable to do anything to fulfill the traditional requirements of practice imposed by the older Buddhist schools which are largely geared towards the observation of austerities, meditation and other requirements that are more easily pursued in a monastic context. It is the only Buddhist path for flawed, trouble and confused people who, doubtlessly, represent the great majority of humanity today.

So what is it that makes this path so accessible and how does it justify abrogating what we often considered the normal expectations of Buddhist practice? Firstly, it conveys the traditional teachings concerning reality through tangible forms that are attractive, compelling, intelligible and in conformity with the actual capacities of people in the world. This, precisely, is what has accounted for its great and enduring popularity for many centuries.

As we have seen earlier in this work, the highest reality in Buddhism is often depicted in negative terms. That is to say, we read that it is formless, intangible, empty and beyond words. However, it is very difficult-impossible for most in fact- to come to terms with this way of viewing it even if, intellectually, we may understand why such a reality needs to possess attributes largely based on negation. Nevertheless, Buddhism teaches that there is not only a “wisdom” dimension at the heart of all things but also one of “compassion.” The latter aspect has vital implications for how it becomes disclosed to us.

The passages we encountered earlier in this work did not just focus on the ineffable and transcendent features of this reality. They also tell us that it is the highest good, complete happiness and supreme enlightenment. As it is also intelligent, such a positive spiritual force must seek to reach out to those who are not enlightened, in a way that its blessings can readily be made known. This is its compassionate response to the needs of our benighted condition, full of affliction, contradictions and tribulation.

Therefore, what we find in the Pure Land sutras is a portrayal of ultimate reality clothed in forms that express its compassion in the most direct and vivid manner. We are told about Amida, Buddha of Infinite Light (Amitābha) and Immeasurable Life (Amitāyus), who makes a “Primal Vow” to take, to his Pure Land adorned with the utmost bliss (Sukhāvatī), anyone who calls his Name. We also read about the extraordinary features of that realm (for example, trees made of jewels, ponds filled with gem stones and wondrous light-emitting lotuses, celestial music constantly playing, beautiful flowers descending from the sky, and birds communicating the Buddha’s teachings and melodious song). Some are taken aback by these accounts, which strengthen as merely poetic and difficult to accept as anything other than stories concocted by enthusiastic writers simply projecting their own spiritual fantasies.

This might seem an understandable response at first glance, but it fails to comprehend the deeper significance of these descriptions. Given the prominence of compassion in Pure Land Buddhism, especially in light of the degraded state of humanity in the present age, it is paramount that it be conveyed to ordinary people in a way that is easily understood and made compelling for them. Therefore, this compassion takes the initiative towards us making itself known in the form of Amida Buddha and the Pure Land-it is the highest and most exalted level of personification that the ultimate reality, or Dharma-Body, can assume. Seeing as it has had to adopt an appearance in order to communicate what is, “Light” and “Life” are the most perfect expression of what Amida represents, whose name means “Infinite.” Considered in this way, Amida is perfectly real in the sense that the presence, wisdom and compassion inherent in Enlightenment itself are also very real and, therefore, capable of being known and experienced by us in this life.

To be continued.

The Fragrance of Light, A Journey Into Buddhist Wisdom Compiled and edited by John Paraskevopoulos. Sophia Perennis, an imprint of Angelico Press.

Wasan 47

Those of immeasurable

wisdom throughout the ten

quarters-past, present,

in future-

All, without exception, having

grounded themselves in


Equally attain the enlightenment

of perfection in the two

aspects of wisdom;

Their salvation of beings

according to conditions is

beyond conception.

(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

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