«MYOKYO 明鏡 (MYOKYO, the Bright Mirror of Buddha Dharma always illuminates our LIFE) October, 2015 _ Sensei’s Message A talk about Oshoko ...»
Temple Mission Statement
"To offer those in the Pacific
Northwest an enduring
community that values
inclusiveness and acceptance
Tacoma Buddhist Temple
in seeking enlightenment
through Japanese Shin
1717 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402-1706
(MYOKYO, the Bright Mirror of Buddha Dharma always illuminates our LIFE) October, 2015 ___________________________________________________________
Sensei’s Message A talk about Oshoko (incense offering) Rev. Kojo Kakihara I thank you for attending our Sunday Service every week. As you know, Buddhism has a custom of burning incense. At Sunday Service of Tacoma Buddhist Temple, children from each Dharma School class do Oshoko. My daughter, Satone sometimes offer incense representing her Lumbini class. When Satone walked forward and did Oshoko by herself for the first time, I was very surprised. It seems that children grow up faster than parents think.
Now, looking at Satone doing Oshoko with a little nervous look, I think in my mind “Why can’t she do it a little more slowly?” But it is very heartwarming.
The first thing to do at the temple is Oshoko. You have been doing it for a long time, and you might have been very used to the custom. But let us think again of the meaning of Oshoko, why we offer incense.
The most important with Oshoko is that we offer the good fragrance of incense to Buddha. It may depend on the person whether the fragrance of incense smells good or not. But basically, a cheap incense is mixed with various materials, so it doesn’t smell very good, and it causes some people to cough. But an incense of superior quality is pure and very fragrant. We offer that good fragrance to Buddha though Oshoko. Because Oshoko literally means “burn-incense,” some may say “Oshoko is nothing but just to burn incense.” But the fragrance of incense is a part of important adornments for the Buddhist altar as same as offered flower. So I want you to do Oshoko with the mind that we are offering the fragrance to Buddha.
And secondly, Oshoko symbolizes purification of our body and mind. I’m not sure if our mind is purified by Oshoko in practice, but the fragrance of incense sinks into our cloth and body and also relaxes our mind. Some people have a custom of burning incense at home. The good fragrance is relaxing and refreshing. There is a term of “Kunju.” This means that as the fragrance of incense sinks into, the teaching and the working of Buddha sinks into and satisfy our life little by little as we listen to Buddha Dharma.
Oshoko also has the meaning that we think of the Pure Land of Amida Buddha through the fragrance. A sutra says that Amida’s Pure Land is full of beautiful treasures and fragrance, and the fragrance spreads all over the world, and those who smells it, wish for Buddha’s Pure Land. So the fragrance of incense at Oshoko is the fragrance of Pure Land.
1 And also, the smoke rising from the incense teaches us the truth of impermanence. After the incense gives the fragrance with the smoke, the smoke disappears, and only the ash remains. It teaches that all living beings are impermanent. But at the same time, the fragrance of incense that spreads equally to everyone without discrimination, teaches us that the working of Buddha’s great compassion has been reaching every one of us equally.
Some may do Oshoko without thinking much, but let’s remember that there are such many meanings in it.
When we think with centering my “Self,” we may think like, “It’s too much trouble,” or “it’s just a custom of burning incense.” But when we think with centering Buddha, we may be able to appreciate Oshoko a little more.
Gassho with palms together, Buddhism 101 Rev. Kojo answers your questions on Buddhism or Jodo Shinshu during Sunday Service mostly on the last Sunday of every month. Submit your questions in the box at the foyer. The next will be on October 25th.
Basic Buddhism Class We have Study Class at 7pm mostly on the 1st Wednesday of every month.
The next class will be “Introduction to Tannisho” at 7 pm, Oct. 7th in the Rev. Pratt Room, and November 4th in November. Please enter through the side walk on the left side of the building.
On October 2nd and 3rd, were also fortunate to have guest speaker Rev. Henry Adams from the San Mateo, California Buddhist Temple lead our Fall Lecture: Enlightening Conversation–The Buddha and His Disciples –Lessons for Living from Timeless Friendships and speak at our Sunday service. Thank you to those who attended.
For the remainder of October, please enjoy the coffee social sponsored by the Board on Sunday, October 11 in the side room and Rev. Pratt room. (Apologies for missing the September coffee social). On October 18, we look forward to seeing families and their children in costumes to enjoy the YBA’s Halloween party and on November 1st, we are holding our Fall Bazaar – our final large fundraiser for the year. Please see the notice about volunteering, set-up and clean-up dates.
Again, thank you for your participation!
In Gassho, Crystal
The bingo activity was a great success, thanks to Denise for organizing, and Martha, Thelma and the ladies who assisted in the kitchen, and most of all to the members who donated the prizes. Denise was even able to check off her dream of being a bingo caller with Madeline as her assistant.
They both did a wonderful job. Watch out Jerry.
On October 4, BWA will be observing the Eshinni/Kakushinni Memorial Service. It is also the start of our annual food and clothing drive. Bins will be located in the foyer as usual. On October 10, six members will be attending the FBWA Representative’s meeting at the Double Tree Hotel-Southcenter. The NW district is the host for this meeting and the FBWA 2016 October conference. Stay tuned for more information on the conference. October 11, Tacoma has the pleasure to host Janet Umezu, wife of Bishop Umezu speak at the services. After the service, the cabinet has decided to host a potluck lunch for Janet.
Sept/Oct toban will be responsible for setting up, and everyone helps with clean up: The dish assignments are as follows: Jan/Feb & Mar/Apr – Dessert May/June & Jul/Aug – Salad Sept/Oct & Nov/ Dec – Main Dish The Fall Bazaar will be upon us soon. Please save the date October 24. We will be making daifuku mochi and would like ‘all hands on deck. Start time is 8:30 am.
Are you craving for pumpkin pie? The BWA will be having a pie fundraiser in November. Be on the lookout for the order form, as only pre-sales will be accepted. See June Akita for more information.
Lastly, the general meeting in November is moved to November 8. Please note the change on your calendar(s).
Our trip was cut several days short because while we were there I started developing a detached retina in my left eye and I would need emergency surgery as soon as possible. So, here we were in a third world country as I was rapidly losing the sight in my left eye. By the time we got back to Tacoma, the interior of my eye was just as bad as it can get, as the doctor put it.
As alone and frightened as we feeling being so far from home, there was something comforting that surrounded at all times, taking some of the stress out our situation…… the Wisdom and Compassion of Amida Buddha. That Infinite Light of Amida is always there to gently guide us. If you just take a moment to feel Amida’s warm presence, really difficult situations are not as hard to get through as you might think.
It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are lacking. It doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of a jungle in Costa Rica or right here at the Temple; Amida Buddha is with you.
And, though it’s great to discover that the Buddha Dharma is alive no matter where we are, it’s good to be home.
Another great way to feel and realize the presence of Amida is to come to one of our TBT seminars. For our spring seminar in May, 2016 we will be honored to have Reverend Kiyonobu Kuwahara as our guest speaker.
Reverend Kuwahara is at the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley. I have spent a lot of time there and can tell you the JSC has a wonderful energy about it; lots of love, knowledge and Buddhist values due to his dedication.
With Love and Gassho Fred Pelger
Our theme for this year is “What Would Buddha Do?” Many class projects and Dharma talks will revolve around this theme.
We are also starting a “Kindness Counts” project for all classes. Students will share with their class an act of kindness they did during the week, note that kindness in their personal journal, and talk about how they felt. With each act of kindness, one bead will be put into a class jar. When that jar fills, the class will enjoy a special treat. There will also be a community jar that classes will help to fill with beads.
When this jar fills, a special outing is in store for all students. This project idea came from June Akita who shared this and other projects with Dharma School teachers at our last Northwest Dharma School
The 2014 Temple Survey Summary and Opportunities The board has worked hard throughout the past months by collaborating in our meetings and evolving how the board functions together. With board meetings now on Sunday’s before temple service, time to dialogue on issues and a shared online drop box for documents, the small but strong board is truly a working board with an eye on key initiatives.
Back in 2014, there was an online/print survey and Centennial Forum discussion with members and nonmembers to gather input on core areas such as membership, Buddhist education, finance and community outreach. Feedback from the survey of nearly 70 people and discussions provided insight for planning and
change. Below are key highlights:
69 responses, online and print; 56% female/44% male; 67% Asian/33% non-Asian, 89% members/11% nonmembers. Discussions were held in small groups at the temple.
• Highest motivation for attending the temple: learning about Buddhism and participating as a Buddhist
• Majority are non-Asian and live 6-20 miles from the temple
• Dues are not a hurdle to join. Some haven’t been asked or don’t know how to become one
• Most live within 6-20 miles
New & Younger Members:
• Higher emphasis on motivation for Buddhist education/participation • 75% are non-Asian and are 40-59 years old
• Of those, half live 0-5 miles from the temple
• Place high importance on being a part of a community and finding Japanese culture
Members’ motivating reasons for attending Temple:
#1 Fellowship and being part of a community #2 it’s a way to support Buddhism and participate as a Buddhist
Members’ most valued Sunday offering:
#1 Shared speakers with other Northwest Temples (top 3 ranked: 74%) #2 Adult Buddhism 101 (top 3 ranked: 68%) #3 Dharma School (top 3 ranked: 59%)
All have differing motivations for what they value most, but one commonality they value is the fellowship and community offered by the temple.
Reasons that would motivate attending a guest lecture:
#1 Topics for applying Buddhism to my everyday life (80%) #2 Holding lectures after Sunday service
Results show that different age groups and length of membership value different aspects of the service, but all are positive on the overall length and format.
Finance Develop financial committee to work with treasurer • Look at fundraisers to make them labor intensive-less workers • Review the property and real estate options • Opportunities Membership: organize potential and new member outreach, member/toban onboarding, materials and information to learn how to get involved. Every potential and current member counts as it is becoming harder to find co-chairs, committee leads and volunteers.
Results show that family membership tend to be more enduring, with a higher level of temple involvement. Having events that appeal to parents and kids are important to attract them.
Future members will be increasingly comprised of non-Asian, who live closer to the temple and are motivated by a religious quest and not a Japanese cultural connection. There’s a balance to provide Buddhism, yet without forgetting our Japanese heritage.
Buddhist Education: tap into the enthusiasm of potential and current members by promoting more accessible topics (Buddhism for their daily life) and after Sunday services. Potentially expand Buddhism 101 and shared Northwest speakers if possible.
Temple Financial Health and Facility Maintenance In addition to membership and Buddhist education, financial health of the temple and facility maintenance are two other areas that members of the Sangha must consider. Membership dues, memorial donations and special service donations cannot sustain the temple. Operating costs, BCA dues and other fixed expenses continue to rise. As well, more parts of our facility need to be maintained. More will be shared in upcoming newsletters as to the plan and requests for support. On a good note, our fundraising events such as Sukiyaki and Obon have increased in profits over the past two years, so thank you for helping to make those a success.
It’s clear that our temple is fortunate to have a strong history and base of members that are dedicated to sustaining it. However, the next year will be important to work on the above four topics and think a little out of the box to ensure the foundation of the temple remains relevant for today and future generations.