White Path Message by Rev. Yugo Fujita for May 2018

I hope you are in good health and doing well under the Amida Buddha’s light.

This month, we have a Memorial Day. I did not know about this day of observance before, and I learned about it last year. So, I think that many people go to the cemetery and visit one’s family and ancestors’ grave that day to show respect and gratitude to the people who have passed away. When we go to the cemetery, what do we do? At the beginning, I think that most people put their hands together at the gravesite. For each person, the activities are going to be different, but many people might do some cleaning of the graves. Dust may be brushed-off the grave stones, fallen leaves may be gathered up around the graves, and weeds may be pulled out around the headstones to honor those who have left and became Buddha. We might then place some flowers on the grave, burn incense, and recite the nenbutsu. Some people might also splash water over the grave stones. This is a common practice in Japan, and it is done to show our respect and gratitude to past family members and ancestors who have passed on and became Buddha. This practice is like doing theKanbutsuduring Hanamatsuri where we pour tea over the baby statue of Buddha. Although in this case, it is to celebrate Shakyamuni Buddha’s birth.  

In any case, when we go to visit the cemetery on Memorial Day, we would like to think deeply about the people who have become Buddha, pour water over the grave and recite the nenbutsu in gratitude.  

We will have a Gotan-E and Shotsuki service on Sunday, May 20 at 10AM. We will have a guest speaker Rev. Kiyonobu Kuwahara.  I hope to see all of you there.

In Gassho,

Yugo Fujita










White Path Message by Rev. Yugo Fujita for April 2018

I sincerely hope this newsletter finds you enjoying good health in the light of the Buddha-Dharma.
Last month, I went to Sacramento to attend the Buddhist Churches of America 2018 National Council and Ministers Association Meetings with Mark Amiya, Larry Hirahara and Gary Tanimura. I was able to see a lot of people and talk about Dharma and learn about the BCA and the member temples. While I was in the meeting, I realized that people attending the meeting have many different points of view, but everyone is concerned about the same issues, about Dharma, and the future of BCA. We all have the same goal. I thought this was wonderful. I was glad to be in the meeting to listen to other people’s ideas. I was able to learn a lot from them. Thank you very much for allowing me to attend the meeting.
Also, the Buddhist Temple of Salinas’ Sangha is wonderful because we have a wide spectrum of membership, from young to old and they all respect each other. Through the Jodo Shinshu Teaching, kindness of each member, and their encouragement and tolerant heart, I am taught every day to become more aware of my own self-centered ego which is difficult to notice by myself.  Together with all of you, I can hear the teachings of Buddha, and learn as a student of Buddhism right here in Salinas. I am very thankful for this opportunity.
As I hear the teachings of Jodo Shinshu, it is hard to imagine that I can completely annihilate the self-centered ego in this life, but I can still imagine that I can face it and go forward with the Nembutsu of Amida, the help from those that have gone before us and become Buddha, and the help from the members of the Salinas congregation. I have come to realize that it is this act of facing the ego head-on that is important. 
On April 22, 2018, we will have our Tri-temple Hanamatsuri Service. Bishop Umezu, Rev. Adams, and other ministers will attend our Hanamatsuri Service. So please come to the temple to join the service, and see the Bishop, and other ministers if it is possible. 
In Gassho
先月はサクラメントで行われた、北米仏教団の全体会議・開教使会議に出席してきました。全体会議はMark Amiyaさん、 Larry Hiraharaさん、Gary Tanimuraさんが一緒に出席しました。多くの方々とお会いする事ができましたし、米国仏教団について、仏教の教えについてお話できました。会議の出席中に思った事を書かせていただきたいと思います。会議には多くの方々がいます。それぞれ皆様に違った意見や、考えをお持ちです。話し合いで物事を決めていきます。しかし、よくよく考えてみれば、会議にいる方々の結論・ゴールは同じ気がしました。アメリカでの仏教をどのように維持・発展していくかという方向にむかっているからです。ゴールが同じ所にあり、その手段が違うだけなのではと思いました。仏教のために一生懸命会議をすることはとても素晴らしい事だと思いました。会議では多くの事を学ぶ事ができました。行かせていただきましてありがとうございます。  

Greetings from Vancouver, From Rev. Orai Fujikawa, former resident minister of Salinas


It has already been a year and half since we departed Salinas. Today I would like to share our experience in babysitting.   
Our granddaughter Mia just turned three and she goes to daycare on weekdays. But as our daughter works on irregular part time schedule, we have to take Mia and pick her up sometimes. And, we also end-up babysitting some weekends.   
Feeding her is a problem. My wife tries to cook many different delicious meals for her, but she tries one bite and throws it away.  She tries this and that, but she still doesn’t eat much. So, we end-up eating the leftover. When she occasionally says Itadakimasu with gassho, we are all smiles. We are often scolded by our daughter for being too easy on Mia.    
Afternoon nap and night sleep are also headache. She looks sleepy, but she often says, “I am thirsty. Give me water or juice.”   
Or else, she brings few books for me to read as her mother does. As I try to read, I nod off to sleep before she does, and she shouts, “Jiji, wake up!” Furthermore, I get scolding from my wife. 
As she finally seems to go to sleep, my daughter comes home from work, and Mia suddenly jumps up in the bed and runs to get a big hug from mom. She now looks at us and says, “Jiji, Baba, Bye Bye!”   
We sometimes get mad at her, but our granddaughter is cute and adorable. Makes our lives worth living. At the same time, we look back to the time when we were infants like her, and appreciate our parents’ love, patience and their worrying over us.    
In gassho, Namo Amida Butsu. 
Orai Fujikawa   

White Path Message for March 2018

I hope you are doing well with Amida Buddha’s light. I think many of you watched the Super Ball game, and I hope that all of you enjoyed the game. I always favor the underdog team, so I wanted the Eagles to win, and they did, so I enjoyed the game very much. However, I didn’t win anything from the Super Bowl game pool.  I hope that you did better. When we watch football games, we sometimes see the head coaches challenge a decision by the referee. They challenge the referee’s decision when they want to overturn a call on the field. They can check and confirm these details on the TV monitor after the play.  Most of the time, they are able to accept the judgment by the referee if their challenge fails to overturn the call. However, sometimes, they remain unhappy with the call. In life, I think it is also very important to confirm and make sure of things. I always need to double check and confirm things when I do something, especially for the sermons before the service because I am usually unsure of myself. When we listen to the Buddha’s teaching, we sometimes hear the phrases such as “Amida Buddha’s working” or “universal wish” and “Amida Buddha’s power”. When I was young, I did not understand the meaning of these words because I was not able to see these things. I could not understand that I received immeasurable benefits through Amida Buddha’s power, and even though I heard these words, I could not believe them because I could not see and hear the real meaning behind these words. Even though we cannot see wishes, love, or thoughts, nor can we measure things like friendship or love of family, people still say things like “I like you” or “thank you,” and then we can see how people think or feel.  For a long time, I could not see how “Amida’s working or power” worked in my life. However, now I can truly feel Amida Buddha’s power even though we may not be able to see it with our own eyes.         
We may not be able see these truths, but I think we can confirm and feel them through saying the Nembutsu. Of course, the Nembutsu which we recite as Namoamidabusu is our expression to show our gratitude to the Buddhas.  Reciting the Nembutsu is also confirming that Amida’s working is bringing Namoamidabutsu to us. When we were born into this world, we did not know about Buddhism, but it was through our parents, grandparents and friends that we learned of the Buddha’s teachings.  Or it also might have been through others or even books that we encountered the Dharma.  Shinran-Shonin said that it is rare to hear the Dharma of the Nembutsu, which originally came from India. There have been generation after generation of human beings, our ancestors, who we did not know or could not see but they brought us the wonderful Teaching from so long ago. Just as the NFL coaches may challenge the referees from time to time, we too, can always ask or challenge Amida Buddha about the Buddha’s working and Power through saying Namoamidabutsu.  And in return, we will always receive great compassion and will be shown the truth. I would like to close my talk with the following words from Shinran-Shonin:   
“How joyous I am, Gutoku Shinran, disciple of Shakyamuni! Rare is it to come upon the sacred scriptures from the westward land of India and the commentaries of the masters of China and Japan, but now I have been able to encounter them. Rare is it to hear them, but already I have been able to hear. Reverently entrusting myself to the teaching, practice and realization that are the true essence of the Pure Land way, I am especially aware of the wonderfulness of the Buddha’s benevolence. Here I rejoice in what I have heard and share what I have attained”  
In Gassho,
Yugo Fujita    
皆様が阿弥陀様のお光と共に健康な事を願っております。先日、アメリカンフットボール全米1位を決めるスーパーボールがありました。アメリカでも最も大きなスポーツのイベントの1つであると聞きました。皆様は見られましたか? その試合では強いチームと弱いチームが試合をしていました。私は弱いチームを応援するのが好きなので、その時も弱いチームを応援しました。結果的にその応援していたチームが勝ったので嬉しかったのですが、試合の結果を予想するスーパーボールのプールには負けてしまいました。たまにアメリカンフットボールの試合を見ていますと、「チャレンジ」という審判の判定を確かめる行為があります。ボールが外に出ているか出ていないか、選手がルール違反をしているか、していないかをビデオ映像を確認しながら確認をする事です。最初の判定に納得がいかない時などに、監督やチームが審判へ確認を講義する事を「チャレンジ」というのです。この確認という行為は私たちの生活の上でもとても大切な事だと思います。私自身、自分に自身がない時や、不安な時は何度も確認を行います。法要の時などは特に気をつけて確認を行います。この確認という行為は仏教的にもとても大切なことだと思います。阿弥陀様の教えを聞いていますと、「本願力」、「他力」、「阿弥陀様の働き」等の言葉を聞きます。私はこの言葉の意味を小さい頃、全く理解できていませんでした。それはこの目で見る事    
が出来ないからです。私が阿弥陀様から大きな慈悲をいただいているという事は理解できるのですが、その事が目に見えないために確認 が出来ずにあまりわからないものでした。しかし、考えてみますと私たちの想いや愛情・友情も見る事は難しいです。しかし、「好き」や「大切に想っている」という言葉にする事で、それを聞く事により相手の方々が自分をどのように考えているか、愛情・友情・想いを確認できます。阿弥陀様の本願力は目にははっきりと見る事は出来ませんが、私はお念仏をお称えさせていただく事によって今まさに阿弥陀様のお働きの中にいる事が確認出来ると思います。もちろんお念仏は、阿弥陀様はいつでも私たちに働きかけてくださっていて、その事へ感謝の気持ちとして行為なのですが、阿弥陀様のお働きが今まさに私に働いている事を確認出来る行為でもあるとアメリカンフットボールの試合をみて感じました。生まれたばかりの頃は何も知らない私が、皆様を始めとする、両親・先祖・友達など多くの人によって浄土真宗という仏教にであわせていただきました。昔の方々の阿弥陀様への想いは、聖典・お経で、文章などを通じて今私たちに届いてであい、聞かせていただいています。 お念仏を通していま大きなお慈悲の中に生かされている事を確認し、感謝して生かせていただきたいと思いました。最後に親鸞聖人のお言葉を書かせていただきまして終わらせていただきます。    

White Path Message by Rev. Yugo Fujita for February 2017

"Each of you has come so far to see me, walking through so many provinces at the risk of your life, solely with the intent to ask me about the path to birth in the Pure Land.  However, if you think I have some special knowledge of a path to birth in the Pure Land other than the Nembutsu or know of some other special teaching, then you are greatly mistaken.   
If that is the case, then I should tell you that there are many eminent scholars in the southern capital of Nara or on Mt. Hiei to the north that you would be better to meet with them and ask them about the essentials for birth in the Pure Land.   
As for me, Shinran, I simply accept and entrust myself to what my revered teacher Honen told me, "just say the Nembutsu and be saved by Amida,” nothing else is involved nor is there anything special you need to do."   
These words come from the "Tannisho" which is a book written about some of Shinran's teachings as remembered by Shinran's disciple Yuienbo.  Even today, 500 years after this book was written, the Tannisho still remains the most purchased religious book in Japan today. In the phrase "just say the Nembutsu" Shinran means "just and only" recite the Nembutsu."  He is telling us that we are not reciting Namo Amida Butsu because of our own doing.  But rather, it is coming from Amida Buddha.  And we do not recite Namo Amida Butsu with the expectation that we're going to get some benefit from reciting the Nembutsu.  Shinran is telling us that you do not need to be calm, pure or even really understand the meaning and benefit of the Nembutsu when you recite Namo Amida Butsu. Neither do you have to always think about the Buddha or Dharma when you recite the Nembutsu. Amida Buddha will take care of you, so you don't have to even worry about how many times you have recited Namo Amida Butsu. 
Amida Buddha always thinks of you even before you think of Amida. And we surely don't pray to Amida Buddha to help us. In our Jodo Shinshu teaching, the number of times we recite the Nembutsu does not bring any benefit in helping us to become a Buddha. Amida Buddha wants each and every one of us to become a Buddha because this is Amida's wish.  This is why we say that that Amida Buddha is the Buddha of Infinite Compassion.  The Amida's compassion is truly infinite and beyond our understanding. When we recite the Nembutsu by ourself and for ourself, we call that "self-power Nembutsu."  However, "Other Power Nembutsu" is that which comes from entrusting Amida's Wish. In 2017, many of our members became Buddhas and returned to the Pure Land.  However, we can continue to communicate with these Buddhas by reciting the Nembutsu, Namo Amida Butsu. In the coming year, let's try our best to cast aside our ego, our bias and prejudices, and entrust ourselves to the Amida Buddha and recite the Nembutsu in gratitude.
Thank you.    
Yugo Fujita
この親鸞においては、 「ただ念仏して、 阿弥陀仏に救われ往生させていただくのである」 という法然上人のお言葉をいただき、 それを信じているだけで、 他に何かがあるわけではありません。    
藤田 裕豪
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