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Nembutsu Brings Us to Oneness

As we welcome Obon season here on the island of Maui, people visit Buddhist temples on most weekends to enjoy special foods and bon dances. Not only people who live on the island of Maui but also many who visit are looking for local food and culture.

Our temple Obon will be held on the first weekend of August, which is August 2nd and 3rd. We have Hatsu-Bon (the family who first observed the Obon memorial service). Please attend our Obon services first, then Bon dance, and enjoy our wonderful cultural festival.

Regardless of who we are, we all have many kinds of experiences, and those experiences are truly making our lives more meaningful and wonderful. I have seen very interesting things about temple members here in Hawaii. Our community has several different types of members:

  • We have Funeral and memorial service members who only come for the Funeral and memorial services.
  • We have Board members who only come to the board meetings.
  • We have Hosha members who always support the temple’s clean-up and fundraising but do not attend temple services.
  • We have grumbling members who are always complaining about the temple’s direction.
  •  We have Obon members who only came to the temple during Obon’s time.
  • We have Dues members who only paid their dues but did not come to the temple or participate in other activities.
  • We have BWA members who are associated with BWA and its functions.

However, fortunately and gratefully, they are all associated with our temple and receive our temple’s information through our excellent temple newsletters, so somehow, we are all connected! I truly feel that our temple newsletter is an excellent opportunity for us to discover information about our temple and learn about Buddha Dharma.

Can you look at your Onenju? When you see the Onenju, several beads are connected by the string and made into beautiful Onenju.

When do you see each bead of the Onenju, especially beads made by the seeds? They look like the same size, but the fact is they are not. Each bead of the Onenju is different! So, I interpreted that each bead of the Onenju is just like us, each one of us. The string is Amida’s excellent guidance, Namo Amida Butsu, that connects us all.

I will chant the Amida Sutra during our Hatsu-bon services, in which Shakyamuni Buddha explains the Pure Land of Amida to his disciples. He said, “There are many beautiful ponds in Amida’s Pure Land. Beautiful lotus flowers are in the ponds, and every flower has its lights. The white lotus has a white light, the red lotus has a red light, the blue lotus has a blue light, the yellow lotus has a yellow light, and the pink lotus has a pink light. Every color harmonizes, and colors do not conflict. This is a great harmony. When we come to the temple and receive kind words and warm feelings of smiles, our lives are meaningful and joyful. These kind words and warm feelings of smiles are just like the lights of the lotus. It truly gives us a peaceful feeling of serenity. So, like this lotus, whenever we all work together, we truly stay in the Pure Land of Amida and share our joy and happiness.

The life of the Jodo Shinshu is having a mind of gratitude, “Okage-samade.” The sense of gratitude will bring us joy, and the joy of life will truly make our lives so meaningful and precious.

The same goes for our wonderful sangha. We are grateful for the excellent guidance from the Nembutsu. We can feel Amida’s great compassion in our hearts, and we think that the superb guidance from the Nembutsu shows us the path to the truth.

Let us all remember that the great rays of Amida Buddha’s infinite wisdom and compassion always reach into our hearts and show us the path to the truth or make us offer our sincere kindness to others.

As we welcome our Obon at the end of this month, let us express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to all our dedicated Nembutsu followers and pass on the legacies we inherited from them

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