Posts

"Do You Meditate?"

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Buddhism is a 2,500 year old tradition and Buddhist teachings and practices take many forms. The way Buddhism is taught and practiced adapts to meet the needs of the people and cultures that follow it.  One of the things that drew me to Buddhism was how diverse, vibrant, and adaptable it is.  At Idaho-Oregon Buddhist temple, we follow a tradition called "Jodo Shinshu Buddhism," a Japanese tradition geared  toward busy people with jobs, families, and responsibilities, rather than toward monks/nuns.   Meditation is not a major part of our Jodo Shinshu practice and not something that I, personally, have ever wanted to practice much. Our Jodo Shinshu tradition relies on Amida Buddha's compassion, not our own spiritual abilities. We listen to the Dharma; we say the Nembutsu (the name of Amida Buddha: " Namo Amida Butsu" ); and we try to live a life of gratitude. We certainly can meditate, but we aren’t expected to.   In fact, if you came by our temple on a typical d

Finding Eggs and Finding our Way: Easter at a Buddhist Temple?

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As we prepare for our temple's 75th anniversary celebration this fall, I've been taking time to remember the old days and my experiences growing up at IOBT. One of those experiences was "Sunday School!"  Even though we were Buddhist, we called it “Sunday School” not “Dharma School”. There were so many children that we had several partitioned classrooms in the basement where we had our “Sunday School” classes. Teachers kept attendance charts with stars for those who were present. At the end of the Sunday School year, we received “Perfect Attendance” pins. I was so proud to have earned a 3-year pin. It wasn’t easy getting from Nampa to Ontario before Interstate 84 was built, but my dad made sure we were there every Sunday! As Easter Sunday approaches this year, I wanted to reflect on this photo from 1962 that I found in an old album.  It makes me think about our temple and how we worked to become a part of the larger Treasure Valley community.   Kathy and Donna with

The Future of IOBT---5 Things!

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At IOBT, we are getting busy thinking about all the fun conversations and discussions we will be having at our75 th NW Buddhist Convention in September. Part of the convention theme is “Looking to the Future,” and one of the things we want to focus on is how our temples can share the Buddha Dharma (Teachings of the Buddha) in the 21st Century.  Here is a photo from our 50th Anniversary 25 years ago!  A lot has changed since then.  What will the next 25 years bring us?   What can we do to help share the Buddhist Teachings with the next generation? One suggestion that stuck in my mind was developing five things that we would want to share with newcomers about the Teachings/Dharma.  Those of you who grew up in the temple like I did will understand the feeling of inadequacy when questioned, “What is Buddhism?” or “What do Buddhists believe?” Attending Northwest Nazarene College (now NNU) in the 70s, I was often faced with questions. Even though I had attended temple services and classes s

Spring Equinox: Finding Harmony Between Light and Dark

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In March we celebrate the Spring Ohigan.   Ohigan is a Japanese Buddhist holiday that marks the equinoxes.   The equinox days--one in spring and one in fall--are the times when the days and nights are of equal length. At the equinox  the sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west almost exactly 12 hours later. It is a time of balance, of harmony, when it is not too hot or too cold, not too bright or too dark. It is a time of fertility and growth in the spring and of abundance and harvest in the fall.   The Japanese term “ higan ” ( 彼岸 or ひがん) actually means "other shore" and refers to the realm of enlightenment, of freedom from suffering, the state of being and of understanding that Buddhists aspire to. The opposite of "Higan" is "Shigan," which means "this shore," our current life of suffering and delusion. Monks in Japan consider the equinoxes to be the ideal time to meditate and engage in spiritual practices to help them move

Love and Impermanence: A Gift of Wisdom From My Mother

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  “All conditioned things are impermanent—when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.”   --Shakyamuni Buddha,  The Dhammapada My mother died in January.   She was 90 years old and had been hospitalized several times over the last year. For the last 3 weeks of her life, we were supported by hospice services, which allowed her to spend Christmas and New Year’s at home.   Many people have asked me how I am doing--how I am coping with my mother’s death.   I tell them that I’m doing pretty well.   I think that one reason that I am doing OK is that both my mother and I, each in our own way, accepted this basic teaching of the Buddha— that all things are impermanent .   Here I am giving my mom a COVID-haircut in the summer of 2020  My mom faced the pain of impermanence when her mother died. Our family lived in Washington and my grandmother was in California.   We were busy with the farm and school back in 1980 when my mother’s mother fell and broke her hip which wou

2022 Northwest Buddhist Convention: “Reflecting on the Past, Looking to the Future”

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Later this year (Sept 16-18) IOBT will be hosting the 75 th Northwest Buddhist Convention and also celebrating our 75 th Anniversary of the temple! Because the pandemic has made everything so uncertain, we are holding out hope that things will get back to normal. We HOPE to have the convention in person with guests here from around the Northwest. We HOPE to gather together to have meaningful services, discussions, and workshops. Most importantly, we HOPE to have fun together as fellow Jodo Shinshu Buddhists. You might be wondering what the convention theme is all about. We thought, since we are celebrating our temple’s 75 th anniversary, that the theme should focus on the history of our Northwest temples AND then look ahead to our influence on the future of Buddhism in our region and our country. First I want to share some reflections on our temple’s past. I’ve been looking at many old photos with my mom. These pictures bring back memories of our temple’s past. There are pho

HOONKO: Repaying a Debt of Gratitude

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“In gratitude to Amida, the Buddha-as-words, I dedicate my whole being to realizing Buddha’s intent. In gratitude to the masters of teachings and the countless good Dharma friends among our ancestors, I dedicate my total efforts to spreading the Nenbutsu.”    Translation of the  Ondokusan  from Shinran Shonin’s Shozomatsu Wasan #59. ( Translation by Rev. Kakei Nakagawa, Rinban of Fresno Betsuin based on Bishop Kenryu Tsuji’s writings) (Shinran Shonin Image from Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple Altar) . January is the month for a major service called “ Hoonko ” which is typically observed on January 16 th in the Nishi Hongwanji tradition.  “ Hoonko ” means “repaying our debt of gratitude”. This is a time for us to reflect on and appreciate the life and teachings of Shinran Shonin, the founder of our Jodo Shinshu tradition. Our debt of gratitude to Shinran Shonin extends to our ancestors who walk together with us on the path of the Buddha Dharma. The Japanese term for this idea of goo