Happy Sons & Daughters Day!

In reflection, a father is a father only because of his sons and daughters. Rev. Kerry shares how he truly came to appreciate just how hard his father worked when he was brought to see his own son work so hard to provide for his children. Happy Sons & Daughters Day! Mahalo for allowing me to be called both father and grandpa! NamoAmidaButsu!

Dharma Talk at Makawao Hongwanji Buddhist Temple in Historic Makawao Town on the beautiful island of Maui in the great state of Hawaiʻi on June 20, 2021.

Put on your Amida Face!

Dharma Talk at Makawao Hongwanji, Maui, Hawaiʻi, on June 13, 2021.

「和諺愛語」”Wa Gen Ai Go” is an excerpt from the Sutra of the Tathagata of Immeasurable Life that refers the “peaceful countenance” and “gentleness in speech” of Amida Buddha with all people regardless of wealth, power, or education. Rev. Kerry shares a story about how changing granddaughter’s diapers taught him about how the karmic consequences of one’s thoughts, words, and actions echo on in inconceivable ways. Rev. Kerry reflects how our attempts to emulate Amida’s “kind eyes, gentle words” can and will influence our thoughts, words, and actions and thus how those thoughts, words, and actions make other people feel.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
—Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

Stars Over Makawao, June 9, 2021

Copyright © 2021 Kerry Kiyohara

Splendor of an Evening Sky (Seiya)

Splendor of an evening sky,
Who can ever fathom its timeless mystery?
Million eyes, when sparkling bright
In the sable sky,
Touch my heart, my lonely heart, with serenity.

More than all the countless sands
Ganges river holds
Are the infinite Buddhas who fill this universe,
Ever watchful over us, 
Throughout day and night.
Hearing this, my lonely heart, 
Fills with lasting peace. 

Baroness Lady Takeko Kujo (1887-1928)
Founder of the Buddhist Women’s Association (Bukkyo Fujinkai)

“A Mother’s Tears” Memorial Day Dharma Talk 2021

Rev. Kerry reflects upon the Dharma reality-as-it-is that Memorial Day begins and ends with “A Mother’s Tears”. Full text of the Dharma Talk is below the video.

This Dharma Talk was recorded LIVE FROM MAKAWAO! at Makawao Hongwanji Buddhist Temple on Maui on May 30, 2021.

Let us live happily then, hating none while in the midst of those who hate. 

Let us dwell free from hate while among those who hate.

Gautama Buddha, Dhammapada

Memorial Day weekend marks the traditional “beginning of Summer,” when kids have summer break, the weather turns warms, and the ‘ohana gathers together to feast around the BBQ, talk story, laugh, and simply enjoy being together.

Especially this year, 2021, as vaccination rates rise and hospitalization/death rates fall, there is a new sense of hope that we are moving in the right direction for managing COVID-19. 

Sooner, rather than later, we look forward to restarting full in-person activity at Makawao Hongwanji, including religious services and observances, sharing the Dharma experience, and community-building as Buddhist “practice.”

Thus, we have even greater reason to “celebrate” Memorial Day in 2021!

Let’s all stay on guard, be safe, and live aloha this weekend.

As Buddhists, Memorial Day is a wonderful opportunity tolisten to the Dharma, tohear the Dharma, and to make the Dharma your own “great torch in the dark night of ignorance” in this Samsara world of confusion and delusion.

As Buddhists in the Hongwanji tradition, we often refer to “reality-as-it-is” as opposed to “reality-as-My-Ego-wants-it-to-be” — this is Awakening, Enlightenment, Becoming Buddha.

Thus, Memorial Day Weekend, “party time, whooya!”, is “reality-as-My-Ego-wants-it-to-be”…and yes we all deserve to have some fun after a year of great change!

But, when we pause for a moment to reflect upon reality-as-it-is, we realize—awaken to—the deeper and profound meaning of Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is a somber and solemn occasion when we remember “when Jiro didn’t come marching home again…” 

Memorial Day is to honor the fallen, the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunties that marched off to war, and didn’t come marching home again.

Memorial Day is when we must awaken to the reality-as-it-is that Memorial Day begins with a mother’s tears.

Rev. Gensho Hara, resident minister of the Lahaina Jodo Mission and one of the longest-serving Japanese Buddhist ministers in Maui, shares the story of how the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Makawao Veterans Cemetery, which is now a large ceremonial occasion, actually began with a Japanese immigrant mother’s tears.

The story is universal. It is a story of “a mother’s tears”…

A son or daughter marches off to war, a mother’s tears.

A son or daughter marches home again, a mother’s tears.

A son or daughter does not march home again, a mother’s tears.

This experience is shared by all parents of sons and daughters that march off to war; and by brothers and sisters, uncles and aunties, cousins, and the ‘Ohana of life.

Shakyamuni Buddha taught that being born human, one of the greatest sufferings in life is the loss of a loved one. 

The pain, grief, sorrow of bereavement comes to all people without discrimination because all things arising from causes and conditions, including ourselves, eventually and inevitably cease to exist.

Thus, Memorial Day serves to remind us as Buddhists of the Truth of Impermanence, the Dharma reality-as-it-is, applies to all things, all people, without exception.

When we “listen to and hear” the deeper meaning and significance of Memorial Day, we pause for a moment to reflect, remember, and express our shared sadness for those mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, cousins, friends, community, the great ‘ohana of life, who lost a loved one to war.

Tomorrow, Memorial Day 2021, when you see an American flag, pause for a moment and reflect upon the Dharma, the reality-as-it-is, that you, of all people, are embraced by Great Compassion and your path in life is illuminated by the Light of Infinite Wisdom, that Namo Amida Butsu, Amida, is working in your life, right here, right now.

Namo Amida Butsu!

How sad, when we reflect upon Memorial Day as beginning and ending with a mother’s tears.

Namo Amida Butsu!

How grateful, when we remember the sacrifice of others so that we may live today.

Namo Amida Butsu!

How joyful, when we realize that this moment of this unrepeatable life is given to us!

Namo Amida Butsu!

This Memorial Day weekend, please take a moment to remember a mother’s tears…

Namo Amida Butsu!

Now, let’s fire up the BBQ! Please be safe out there!

The essence of Shin Buddhism is gratefully receiving the Faith of Shinjin through the working of Amida’s Great Compassion and Infinite Wisdom in our lives in every moment of each day of this unrepeatable life!

Then, in gratitude, we put our hands together, bow our heads, and say Namo Amida Butsu!

Just Say It. Namo Amida Butsu

Just Say Mahalo.

Mahalo for joining us this morning.

May your day be filled with aloha!

Namo Amida Butsu!

Nembutsu Smiles

https://vimeo.com/538427055

Let us begin by reflecting upon the wisdom, the Dharma, of Shinran Shōnin, founder of Jodo Shin Buddhism and the Hongwanji tradition.

Persons who truly realize shinjin
as they say Amida’s Name
Being mindful of Buddha always,
Wish to respond in gratitude to the great benevolence.

Shinran Shōnin
Hymns of the Dharma Ages, verse 30
The Collected Works of Shinran, Volume 1, page 406

My grandmother Chieko (Ishida) Kiyohara, Buddhist name Shaku Shō-ei 釋尚永 Disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha “Truly Eternal” was born in Kaita-cho, a small town in Hiroshima, Japan on December 28, 1903.

We all called her Bachan, which my Mexican friends instantly recognized as ‘abulita’ or ‘little grandma’ an expression in Spanish used as a term of endearment.

Bachan immigrated to the United States in 1919 at age 16 to marry my grandfather, Sasaichi Kiyohara, also from Kaita-cho, Hiroshima.

Certainly, it was not an easy life; America was not the land of milk and honey, and the state of California had promulgated Anti-Asian laws that specifically targeted Asian immigrants, especially Chinese and Japanese.

Bachan used to tell the story of being so afraid of “white demons” that she used to hide under the bed when people came up to the door.

Bachan never learned to speak English fluently, and yet the causes and conditions of her life required her to cook, clean, and care for dozens of Japanese and Mexican migrant workers, who traveled by truck, from farm to farm, to pick vegetables in season from sunrise to sunset.

Bachan’s first child, daughter Mihoko, died before her first birthday. Bachan went on to give birth to give five children, four boys and one girl.

My father, Akira Kiyohara, the third son of four boys, was born in Guadalupe, California.

In 1941, the Kiyohara family was rounded up, without due process guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States of America, and illegally incarcerated in the middle of the deserts of Poston, Arizona, in a so-called Internment Camp.

Bachan’s two eldest sons served in the US Army as interpreters in the Military Intelligence Service during the war and at General MacArthur’s GHQ during the Occupation of post-war Japan.

My father graduated from high school in Poston Internment Camp, where he was a Life Scout in the Boy Scouts of America, and he would later serve in the Korean War.

After World War II ended, the Kiyohara family settled in Los Angeles, in the West Adams district, one of the few neighborhoods where “Japs” were allowed to live, along with Blacks and Chicanos.

In 1956, Bachan became a US citizen in the first year that Japanese nationals were allowed to naturalize. Which is remarkable since she wasn’t fluent in English!

On February 28, 1964, my grandfather Sasaichi Kiyohara passed away. I remember the funeral and especially hearing Bachan crying inconsolably in her bedroom at the family house.

This was my first real experience of the reality of death and the pain of grieving. I was only four years old.

But my strongest memories are of Bachan smiling and laughing all the time, giving the grandchildren Bazooka Bubble Gum, “arare” rice crackers, and rice-paper-wrapped Botan candies, all carefully stashed in the top drawer in the breakfast nook in the rear of the house.

Bachan’s favorite phrases were:

You alright no?
EAT shinasai
Yōjin shinasai

Mimy remembers Bachan telling her, “Warui hito wa inai yo!”

“There are no bad people!”

Bachan was always smiling!

When I was in university, I studied Japanese so I could make Bachan proud, so that I could talk to her in Japanese.

This simple decision led to a 23-year career in Asia-Pacific while based in Japan, and three years in China, and now being allowed to be resident minister of Makawao Hongwanji on Maui!

The second time I saw Bachan cry was when Mimy and I presented our son to her.

Her eyes teared up as she exclaimed joyfully, “Oh, the fourth generation of Kiyohara family in America! I’ve seen the face of a great-grandchild! Now I can die happily.”

The last time I saw Bachan, she was at end of life.

After a long illness, her body had wasted away and was just a shell of the Bachan I remembered. Her appearance scared me.

I was unable to say much of anything and I have always felt guilty that I was not able to give her comfort.

Bachan was born in the Pure Land on October 4, 1998.

Her youngest son was our Uncle Ronnie, and he was the rough, tough, grumpy uncle who terrorized me as a child.

In November 2015, I returned to Los Angeles to be the family caregiver at end of life for Uncle Ronnie.

I had found many excuses not to go earlier, because actually because I feared death and dying people. But eventually I forced myself to go.

When I arrived, he was in hospice care at home, with a long beard and mustache, struggling to breath, and sleeping most of the time.

The first time he woke up, Uncle Ronnie looked at me in confusion, then he smiled and said, “Hey, Kerry, thanks for coming. Where’s Mimy?”

“Mimy had to work, she’s back in Honolulu.”

“Oh. Tell her I love her.”

And then he went back to sleep.

I spent the next couple of hours cleaning his apartment, and being briefed by the caregiver about to give narcotic painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs.

I cleaned up his Butsudan and moved it to the living room, re-set the adornments, moved the photographs of Jichan, Bachan, and my father so he could see them.

I lit a candle and some incense and sat next to Uncle Ronnie.

Suddenly he woke up, put his hands together, and said, “Alright, I’m ready to go. Let’s get this over with! Namandab, Namandab, Namandab!”

I was shocked. My rough, tough, mean-talking Uncle was saying the Nembutsu.

I give him my nenju and we said the Nembutsu together.

We chatted a bit, and eventually he went back to sleep.

Late that evening, the caregiver told me I should go back to the hotel and get some sleep.

At six a.m., the caregiver called and said that Uncle was not responsive although still breathing.

I called the family, including his sister, who came as soon as they could.

Auntie Mary was holding his hand, fighting back tears, when suddenly I had to make a pot of tea.

Normally, I’m not the “make a pot of tea” kind of guy but for some reason I knew I had to make tea.

As the water started to boil, Auntie Mary said, “Kerry, I think Ronnie stopped breathing.”

I confirmed that Uncle wasn’t breathing and had no pulse, and called the doctor. And the family, and then the temple to arrange the magura-gyo bedside service.

I realized I was actually angry because I imagined myself as the valiant caregiver but he died within 24 hours of my arrival.

How inconsiderate of Uncle to die so quickly!

In that thought-moment, I realized how stupid and selfish my ego makes ME!

Seeing my Uncle face his death calmly, find refuge in the Nembutsu, and show consideration for others on his deathbed, was a turning point for me at age 55.

This was the moment when I decided to pursue Tokudo ordination in 2016, Kyoshi certification in 2018, and Shin Buddhist ministry as the purpose of my life.

My Uncle showed me how to face death, how my fears of dying people were unfounded, how my ego-self was indeed just a silly fool wrapped up in my own self-centered world.

After the funeral, I was cleaning up the Kiyohara family home in Los Angeles and discovered Bachan’s secret to being happy all the time —a poem in Japanese.

In Japanese, the first characters of each line spell out Namu Amida Butsu! The Japanese expression “niko-niko”means kind and gentle SMILE.

Do whatever you do with gratitude and effort
SMILE while you work hard

Never say “impossible,” never get angry
In the home, always SMILE

Don’t put it off for another day, listen to the Dharma,
and let’s all SMILE together

We are all Children of Amida, we say the Nembutsu
and SMILE with the heart of Buddha

Taking care with our words and actions,
Be helpful to others and SMILE

Believe in the Dharma, be true and real,
SMILE purely and joyfully

The poem and calligraphy is attributed to Rev. Ryuei Masuoka, who served the Hongwanji at BCA temples and was Rimban (Head Priest) of Los Angeles Betsuin.

My memories of Bachan, and the lessons Uncle Ronnie taught me on his deathbed, now serve me as I live the life of a Hongwanji minister.

Much of my work is visiting with people at end of life, people who are dying: conducting rinju gongyo bedside services before the person is born in the Pure Land; helping people to cope with death of a loved one: makura-gyo bedside service immediately after the person is born in the Pure Land;

by officiating Funerals, Seven-Day Services, and 49-day services;

Encouraging people to gather for memorial services held months and years after the passing of a loved one.

Buddhism teaches us the Truth of Impermanence: death is the natural outcome of birth, that aging is the end result of youth, that dying can be faced with dignity, courage, and a smile.

The Truth of Impermanence teaches us to cherish this moment,

to not take for granted the unrepeatable moments we are allowed to spend with loved ones, with friends, with community.

The Truth of Impermanence teaches us to not be so self-centered,

to realize that a life of Nembutsu, saying Namo Amida Butsu in gratitude for this life we have been given, truly is freedom from the “bondage of selfishness.”

When we begin to see Life as a gift, a treasure, an opportunity to be kind and gentle to all living things, then we begin to see that we live in the Pure Land right now, that bodhisattva —enlightened beings— are all around us, that Amida’s Great Love and Compassion are real.

The promise of Amida’s 18th Vow, the Primal Vow, the HONGAN in Hongwanji, is that we are already embraced by Compassion, that death is not to be feared because our birth in the Pure Land is assured, we will return to One-ness with Amida, and we will return to this world to help others!

If we open our eyes to reality-as-it-is, the power of Amida’s Vow manifests itself in our lives every day!

The Pure Land is here and now; my Ego, my Anger, my Greed, my Delusions, my Self-Centeredness just blind me to that fact that Great Compassion and Wisdom are in my life, here and now.

This truly is bonno, or Blindingly Self-Centered Desires.

Single-heartedly listening to, then truly hearing the Calling Voice of Amida—Namo Amida Butsu—is to wake up and see just how silly and self-centered my Ego-Self makes me.

Bachan, Uncle Ronnie, and so many others guided my return to the Path of Nembutsu, which literally translates as Mindfulness of Buddha Amida.

Or, more simply, just saying Namo Amida Butsu in gratitude for the absolute assurance of Birth in the Pure Land and becoming Buddha.

Take a moment to reflect on the great ‘ohana of your life, let aloha in your heart come bursting out as mahalo for this unrepeatable life by putting your palms together, bowing your head, and saying Namo Amida Butsu in gratitude for kindness and understanding, compassion and wisdom in your life.

Just say Namo Amida Butsu in joy for the chance to just get out there TODAY and live in each moment of this Unrepeatable Life!

When we truly awaken to the gift of life, we become humble.

When we truly awaken to the gifts we are being given in our lives, we become grateful.

When we truly awaken to the gifts we can give to other people, we become compassionate.

When we truly awaken to our heart and mind that is humble, grateful, and compassionate, we are freed from the bondage of selfishness, we live with strength and serenity, accepting whatever comes our way as this unrepeatable life unfolds naturally.

This is the Faith of Shinjin, a state of mind, a state of being, a change of heart, a change of attitude that completely transforms our lives.

The Faith of Shinjin comes to us through the working of Amida, Namo Amida Butsu, Great Compassion and Wisdom in our lives.

When we say Namo Amida Butsu, we are responding in gratitude to the Great Kindness of Amida for embracing us, just as we are, in this unrepeatable life, just as it is.

Just Say Namo Amida Butsu! And smile!

The essence of Shin Buddhism as taught by Shinran Shōnin is the Faith of SHINJIN, Amida’s Great Love and Great Compassion transforming our all-too-human hearts and minds so that we are empowered to RESPOND IN GRATITUDE to life as it unfolds naturally.

Just say mahalo! Mahalo for listening this morning!

May your day be filled with Aloha!

Baby Buddha’s Birthday Party: The Story of Hanamatsuri

Dharma Talk for Children at Makawao Hongwanji Buddhist Temple in Historic Makawao Town on the beautiful island of Maui in the great State of Hawaiʻi.

Ever wonder why we pour “sweet tea” over a statue of the Baby Buddha in a “flower palace” for “Hanamatsuri” every year?

Rev. Kerry explains the meaning and significance of Hanamatsuri, the “flower festival” in Japanese Buddhist tradition, which celebrates the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, the human being who awakened to reality-as-it-is and became known as Buddha, “awakened one”, and whose teachings became known as Buddhism, encompassing the Buddha, Dharma teachings, and Sangha community.

The Pain is ME: You’re Only Human

Dharma Talk at Makawao Hongwanji Buddhist Temple in Historic Makawao Town on the beautiful island of Maui in the aloha state of Hawai’i.

Aloha kakou! Aloha everyone! Ohayo gozaimasu!Good morning!

Let’s begin with wisdom of Shinran Shōnin, the founder of Jodo Shinshu.

My fervent wish is this: Whether monk or layperson, when on board the ship of the great compassionate Vow, let pure shinjin be the favorable wind, and in the dark nigh tof ignorance, let the jewel of virtue be a great torch…”

Shinran Shōnin
Passages on the Pure Land Way, Conclusion
Collected Works of Shinran, Vol I, page 303

Recently, the causes and conditions of this unrepeatable life required an “emergency” root canal procedure, which is a bit less fun than a “regular” one!

And, duh, I completely forgot to take a sweater and wear socks—three hours without moving in a freezing cold dental office is an excellent way to perfect the Bodhisattva practice of “endurance,” which our Bachan used to call “gaman”.

Having reached “kanreki” or age 60, the “return to childhood” in Japanese tradition, the time it takes to go from “Do I need to make shi-shi?” to “I need to make shi-shi now!” is two seconds.

Old guy jokes aside, I’m forever grateful to Dr. Kevin Omuro and the staff of Pukalani Dental Group for seeing me on an emergency basis, quickly diagnosing the problem, referring me to a specialist, Dr. Randall Yee and his staff, who bent over backwards to perform an unscheduled root canal procedure that alleviated my pain.

How grateful that healthcare professionals are working so hard under such difficult conditions at great risk to the health of themselves and their ‘ohana.

But, “It’s about ME!” It’s about my pain! Yes, MY PAIN! ARGGGH! It’s about ME!

There is nothing like acute pain to make you Mr. Grumpy, a true pain in the okole to other people, and his buddy Mr. Whiner, who pouts because no one can see his pain, boo-hoo!

(CHANGE SLIDE: “Without the falling down, you won’t learn to walk.”—Kerry’s Grandson, age 1)

Pain, of course, is part of human existence.

Our grandson Cadence just turned one year old and has just started walking! And, of course, learning to walk involves falling down, and sometimes getting an owie!

When Cadence falls down, he gets up, he’s cautious, he grabs onto things so he doesn’t fall down, and smiles when he gets to where he wants.

Without the falling down, Cadence would not learn to walk.

Sangha friend Diane K asked a great question about my use of the metaphor “It’s not about ME!” vs. “It’s about ME!” to explain different schools and traditions of Buddhism.

“Don’t we sometimes need the Ego to survive?” —Diane K
The answer is “yes,” of course, the human instinct for survival, is what prevents us from walking in front of a truck on Makawao Avenue!

In the real world in which we live as human beings, the Ego-Self is necessary.

And it’s also not like we can easily get rid of the Ego on our own.

On April 8, Buddhists around the world mark the birth of the Buddha.

The Buddha’s insights and teaching of the way to the ending of suffering, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness became know as Buddhism and has inspired and guided human thoughts, words, and actions for 3000 years.

Nowadays, the Buddha doesn’t get any respect, to quote Rodney Dangerfield. Search online or in social media and you’ll quickly come across “Buddha-isms” like these that actually misquote or “improve” upon the Buddha’s words (“what the Buddha meant to say was…”):

“Life comes with pain. Suffering is optional.”

—The Buddha (never said that)

The Buddha, the human being who awakened to reality-as-it-is, simply taught that reality-as-it-is means born human, you live in a human body and think with a human mind, both of which grow older and function less well every day, and eventually your human body and mind reach the end of life.

The Buddha’s insight was that born human, we are also hopelessly attached to our “Self” —the false idea that there exists an unchanging, permanent “essence” of Kerry, that’s ME!, that lives on forever.

And because we are self-centered, we willfully ignore reality-as-it-is and we experience not only the natural aches and pains of an aging body and mind, but also dissatisfaction with everything we have now, burning desire for “winning,” and the narcissistic insistence on “It’s about ME!” (my ego).

The Buddha’s insight is the reality-as-it-is, the Dharma, that human nature is to be self-centered, egotistical, and selfish.

My self-centered and egotistical nature makes me delight in identifying other people’s foibles while deliberately ignoring mine!

The Buddha taught that this self-delusion is human existence in the Samsara world of confusion and delusion.

The Buddha taught the way to eliminate suffering is the Eightfold Path of the Nobles, which evolves over centuries into the Six (or Ten) Paramita Perfections of the Mahayana tradition, and countless other paths and practices, including early Pure Land practice

In the beginning, all Buddhist paths required becoming a monk: shaving one’s head, renouncing this world, turning one’s back on all duties and responsibilities, and total commitment to study and practice in isolation from the “real” world.

By doing so, Buddhist monks strive with single-minded dedication to eliminating attachment to Self, to shift their thoughts, words, and actions from “It’s about ME!” to “It’s not about ME.”

My ego likes to think I’d be a great monk but Self-Centered ME says, “But then you’d have to give up Mimy, the love of your life, and your son, your granddaughter, and your grandson!” and it is obvious the causes and conditions of my life don’t allow for me to choose that path.

And, just between you and me, I’m not actually capable of any disciplined spiritual or intellectual practice but don’t tell anyone, okay?

The strength and serenity to accept the inevitable aches and pains that come with a human body and mind come from the faith of Shinjin, which we gratefully receive through the working of Amida’s Vow to save all people without discrimination or judgement, as Namo Amida Butsu, entrusting in All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion.

The life of Nembutsu, the life of gratitude, the life of Dharma, is:

  • to study and embrace the Teachings;
  • to awaken to the Dharma, reality-as-it-is, in your unrepeatable life;
  • and to think, say, and act in accordance with the Dharma, reality-as-it-is, not, reality-as-my-Ego-wants-it-to-be

—all while carrying out one’s duties, fulfilling one’s responsibilities, doing what needs to be done to service, live long, and prosper.

This is the Way of the BuddhaDharma, the Path of Nembutsu, the life of Namo Amida Butsu, this is Amida’s Great Love and Great Compassion working in our lives and the lives of our honorable friends and fellow travelers on the journey that is this unrepeatable life.

This unrepeatable life is rare, wonderful, and precious because of the aches and pains that come with being born human, living in a human body, and thinking with a human brain.

And precisely because you are only human, Amida’s Great Love reaches out to you, embraces you, and will never abandon you.

This is Namo Amida Butsu, the Path of Nembutsu, the Life of Gratitude.


Mahalo for listening this morning.

May your day be filled with aloha!

Namo Amida Butsu!

The Other Shore? You’re Standing on It.

Dharma Talk for Spring Equinox Service (Shunki Higan Hoyo) at Makawao Hongwanji Buddhist Temple in Historic Makawao Town on the beautiful island of Maui in the great state of Hawaiʻi.

The Equinox, when day and night, light and dark, are exactly equal is the perfect time to pause and reflect on the balance between our spiritual and secular lives. Am I am truly living the Life of Nembutsu, the Life of Gratitude?

Namo Amida Butsu

“LOCK HIM UP!”

A reflection on my personal reactions to the horrific insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and how as Shin Buddhists, we can try to respond to the relentless images of violence and destruction. From a Buddhist perspective, there are no “winners” or “losers”, no “good” or “evil”, no “right” and “wrong”, just us, ordinary human beings trying to understand the Truth of Impermanence and cope with relentless change. As Shin Buddhists, all we can do is try to respond in gratitude, to respond to hate with love, empowered by the Faith of Shinjin, the Great Compassion and Great Love of Amida that assures us of Birth in the Pure Land. Recorded live on January 10, 2021 at Makawao Hongwanji.