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Long Beach Buddhist Church
Tide of Sangha
Teaching
 

Minsiter's Messages
 

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Leadership

In order for the communities to grow, we need strong leadership.  Especially for a small Japanease-American Buddhist community, presence of a strong leadership is the key for its growth.  

Ancient buddhist teachers said sanghas, a buddhist community, would grow whenever the dharma, the teahcing of Buddah, is well understood.

It is our tendency to look for a strong leadership somewhere outside of our home, community, or even country.  We tend to say, we don't have a strong leadership and we tend to look for a leader.

However, abscence of a leader is an abscence of our own insight that allows us see leadership in all people including ourselves.

Every person has a innate potential to grow wise, kind, and capable through experienes.  Leadership is not something that comes from outside.  It is something that grows from inside our own mind.

When we can see the leadership in the very person right next to you, leadership is already in the community.
We you can see the leadership in your very mind, leadership is alreday manifesting through your actions, speech and thoughtfulness.

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Sanctuary Within
Long Beach Buddhist Church had another successful Obon summer festival and Chow Mein Dinner this summer and fall.  On occasions like this, we find ourselves replenished spiritually in the sanctuary that is hidden deep inside our heart.
As Dalai Lama teaches us, a temple is not a building.  Our sanctuary exists in our mind.  Our faith always belongs to the temple within and embodies themselves through our speech and actions.   Yet, places like Long Beach Buddhist Church and the Terminal Island always help us find our way back to our inner sanctuary.
Ceremonies, rituals, annual events, or even the most ordinary experience in our life can keep our mind in the temple within.  For example, a sound of drums or temple bells, the smell of the candies at the Obon festival or the taste of Chow Mein, or even the same old joke of your old friends bring us back to the sanctuary within our mind.
Dharma is always available at any given moment in our life.  Dharma is available through any given experience whether it comes with joy, misery, happiness, fun, boredom, despair, hope, health, illness or death.  As our teachings say... “Dharma gates are boundless.”  We simply need to enter these gates to enter our sanctuary within.


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Liberating ourselves from our views
 
If we could ever relieve ourselves from our views that have been inevitably biased from our past experience and enormous amount of biased history and information in the world, we would be able to attain freedom from the suffering that arises from our own innate ignorance, misunderstanding,  preference, judgement, discrimination, and separation that sets us against the others.   

Shakyamuni Buddha proved that such liberation is possible by opening our heart to the untrammeled thusness of life.   In December, we together celebrate the blessed one's awakening and honor his inconceivably deep insight which he shared with the world throughout his life 2500 years ago.

 
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2018 is a year of the Dog. This year is known as the year of extinction. The fruits will fall onto the ground and the tree will return to its original state. By letting go of the flowers, leaves and fruits, the true nature of ourselves and the world we live in will be revealed.

I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirit. Throughout the year 2017 that there were members and friends who has been through illness, injury or many other stressful situations. As followers of Buddha's teachings, we acknowledge the hardship as a part of life and Shugyo, training, to cultivate our strength to achieve peace, joys and wisdom within such hardship.

On the evening of December 31st, I rang Joyano kane (the year-end purification bell) 108 times. Each time I rang the bell, I prostrated. I offered incense and prostrated 108 times, each time taking about 3 to 4 minutes. Traditionally, it is customary to cleanse our delusions and attachment by the time the new year starts. This year, I offered the incense and the sound of the bell to every one of those I met in our life and wished for their happiness... whether they are alive or dead. It was as if I were physical with them in the silence on the new year's eve. By the time I finished the 100th bell, my memories were all renewed and the life I had in the past felt blessed again.

From the time we were born, we met our family and all those friends from kindergarten, elementary school, junior high and high school, college, companies, girlfriends or boyfriends, spouses, neighbors and people who were just there for you. Each relationship gave us a clear definition and meaning of who we were and how we mattered in their life.

Then, the realization comes that such personal connections created many untold stories of our parents and ancestors and all people and living beings. The closer we feel to our own life experience and relationship, the closer we are able to feel to other sentient beings.

We call this kind of practice a Metta practice, the practice of compassion. This starts with clarifying our love to the most intimate person in our life. Eventually, it allows us to be in touch with the most real elements of other being's life and helps us understand the hardship, suffering, joy, and love of living beings. As I rang the last bell, I said “I love you.” to my son, then, I heard the voice of thousand's Spirits echoing in the mind sending love to their most beloved one. May the year 2018 bring you deep wisdom and compassion to all beings.
 
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As the season turns into Fall and the air starts to feel cool, we realize that the Summer has gone and that Fall is here. The Fall we experience this year is entirely a new season, and it is not the same one as we experienced last year. Nonetheless, it is our nature to look for a trace of happiness or shadows of our families who have passed away. The Buddhist masters, Thich Naht Hann and Dalai Lama, both say Buddhism is about understanding the suffering and happiness. Suffering arises when we start looking for happiness in the past or in the future. We tend to think happiness was once there or happiness will come in the future. Yet, we continue to suffer as long as we allow ourselves trapped in such delusions. Fundamentally, Buddhist life is about staying in touch with happiness in the present and generating joy that is deeply rooted in clear understanding of the nature of suffering and happiness and compassion that arises from it. As these masters say, answer to happiness is available today.
 
 
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60th Anniversary of Long Beach Buddhist Church
 
This November marks the 60th Anniversary of Long Beach Buddhist Church. We would like to invite you all to celebrate this special year. The founder of the church and the 1st generation members gave us a big “homework,” namely, continuation of a genuine practice of Buddhism not hindered by sectarianism. I always felt this goal matches the most basic American value based on the culture and history of puritanism. I suppose this is a question rather than an answer each of us is assigned to work on individually. As we all know, the Buddhist teachings originate from the realization achieved by Shakyamuni Buddha. His teachings address our inherent human suffering in our life. Because we are humans, we suffer. But because we are humans, we can find our own path to deepen our insight and realization about life wish wisdom and compassion. Every time we face challenge in our life, we can take such challenges as precious opportunities to test our ability to free our mind from the delusion of duality. Buddha's guidance is always available to us as long as our mind seeks for it.
 
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Together with your ancestors
 
 Each year brings something new, something unexpected. I hope 2017 will be a year that brings you a
joy and peace. Dalai Lama says “Time passes unhindered. We cannot turn the clock back and try again.
All we can do is use the present well.” Our desire sometimes makes us wish to bring back what's lost
in the past. Difficulties in our life bring us so much suffering and pains. But such difficulties can bring
us realization of what we are given and the warm heart of people who surround us. It can be a
powerful experience of re-discovering love and kindness in this world. Then, if we look at our
experience further deeply, we realize we are not facing them alone nor are we facing them with just our
families or friends. Our thoughts, decisions, courage, wisdom are all traits and foot prints of the people
you survived in the past.
 
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Spiritual Practice Preserved in Tradition

In July and August, many Japanese and Japanese-American experience celebrate Obon. For many,
the highlight of Obon is Bon Odori Dance. The dance has become a popular cultural entertainment.
Originally, Obon Dance was an spiritual ritual to commemorate the ancestors who passed away in the
past and spend with them as if they are with us. From the ancient time, people in Japan believed that
respecting the departed souls of our families would ensure their transformation to deities so that they
will guide and protects our family and the community. As Buddhism embraced this culture, we started
to commemorate our families to ensure their enlightenment and our own spiritual growth. Bon Odori
Dance is one of such important spiritual practices deeply rooted in Japan's ancient spiritual culture. 
 
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