Thank you to all who helped make our 2021 Obon the most successful and well attended in recent history! People new to our Japanese Festival as well as longtime friends enjoyed an afternoon of dancing with Sho Jo Ji dancers and eating Japanese food from Kiko’s Kitchen. We had a beautiful day to dance under the lanterns in the gardens prepared by Ken Kuehm and his amazing team at the Unitarian Universalist Church.
Our 76th Obon Festival came about because of those who came before us and built the foundation for us. It is with gratitude for them and for all who shared the many aspects of Sunday, July 18, 2021 that we say Thank you.
Dhammapada, a collection of verses of Shakyamuni Buddha
Seated Buddha, 1100s, Japan, Heian period - Cleveland Museum of Art
The Mind: 33-37
hard to guard, to hold in check: the mind.
The Sage makes it straight – like a fletcher, the shaft of a narrow.
Like a fish pulled from its home in the water and thrown on land:
this mind flips and flaps about to escape Mara’s sway.
Hard to hold down, nimble, alighting wherever it likes:
Its taming is good. The mind well tamed brings ease.
So hard to see, so very, very subtle,
alighting wherever it likes: the mind.
The wise should guard it. The mind protected brings ease.
Wandering far, going alone, bodiless, lying in a cave: the mind.
Those who restrain it: from Mara’s bonds
they’ll be freed.
It Ain't Easy - Part 2
It’s hard to eat my own words, but here I am eating them. No amount of rationalizing helped me let go when something I firmly believed would happen went off in a direction that I never knew was possible. What makes it worse is I wrote “Not Letting Go” and am fully aware than I’m not.
I just couldn’t let it go. No physical harm came to anyone. No “real” material harm came to anyone. The harm was my expectation of an outcome that didn’t happen. That my 100% attachment to what was “right” did not take place. That the system did not work the way I was taught it would.
I tried to be philosophical; I tried to practice what I preach. But waking up at 3 AM thinking about it was, well, proof that I couldn’t. I was plotting various actions I could take to change the outcome, thinking of ways to get my way. I tried to sit and meditate my confusion and anger away… I even tried eating my way out of it (I strongly advise against this one).
What I was left with was eating the words I wrote in the July 10 issue. Then Oban happened the next week.
This was our first in person Shin Service since we closed down our temple in March 2020. This was also the first Obon that Rev. Ron, our Supervising Minister, was not able to travel to Cleveland for Obon and Bon Odori. I now had two expectations that didn’t take place.
But a few things happened.
First, friends who knew about the judicial decision pointed out the positive aspect of the decision and reminded me that I was now free of it. And, explained in no uncertain terms, potential consequences of poking the bear. That got my attention.
Second, I needed to prepare the Ullambana message for our Obon Service which meant I had quite a bit of research to do. Rev. Ron was generous in sharing his notes on the Ullambana message. After reading one of his sentences over and over again, I finally understood what I was hearing him say for so many years… “It is impossible, in our human world, to not have selfish motives. But it is possible, for an instant, to reach out to a spiritual world, just as Mogallana’s jump for joy.”
Have I let it go completely? Not quite. The habit of it lingers but now I understand that if I am not to harm myself with these destructive thoughts, it is the habit that needs attention. The story of Oban and the unconditional embrace of Amida Buddha is now my focus. As I write this I realized how light I feel by letting go of that heavy burden, word by word.
Excerpts of Buddhist voices across teachings, across contients, across time.
“Erase imaginings. Still the puppet strings of passion. Circumscribe the present. Recognize what is happening to you or to another. Analyze and divide any event into its cause and its matter; think of your last hour; leave the wrong done by another at the place where it was done.”