"Did you know that the current temple on Vineyard Street was built by the YBA in 1937 to serve as their social hall where dances and other social activities were held? It was just after World War II, that the YBA Social Hall was converted to its current temple function. (The altar area in the temple was formerly the Social Hall’s stage.)"

Namu Amida Butsu

Buddha Shakyamuni was born on April 8th at Lumbini Garden about 2,550 years ago. The garden is located in the northern part of India. My dream is to someday visit Buddha’s birth place, Buddha’s enlightened place, and Buddha’s place of death. I would like to chant the Sutras. I don’t know when my dream will come true or if it even will, but I remember when Reverend Seigen Yamaoka once said, "Our dreams may be as huge as the sky or as small as a grain of sand, but it does not matter, the most important thing is as long as we move toward the dream."

So, I am checking on how to get there, the hotels, how many days I should stay in India and so forth. By the way, as you may know, I love traveling and visiting various sites and taking lots of pictures. With these pictures, I usually make a DVD with music and captions and enjoy watching it with my family. However, even if I take lots of photos, many times I am not in the photos since I am the person taking pictures.

In spite of this, I get to see beautiful sites and historical places, and make lots of memories. If I were to visit Buddha’s historical places, I will take many pictures and share it with others so everyone can see that Buddha Shakyamuni was a propagator of our spiritual Dharma.

I know these places have changed from the time when Buddha Shakyamuni was there, but if you stand in the places where Buddha walked and see the flowers, you will feel as if Buddha Skakyamuni was there with you. Yes, the flowers are today’s flowers, but many of the flowers are descendants of the flowers when Buddha was sharing the Dharma with his sangha. So, if I am able to visit India, I would like to keep this in mind and imagine within my heart and appreciate the joy of happiness I will receive.

Here is one of the Buddha’s teachings.

As you may know, Buddha traveled from village to village and shared his great spiritual Dharma with his followers. At one village, people expected Buddha to arrive late at night. So everyone got candles and planned to welcome him with lighted streets. The entire village purchased candles and stood on the side of the road. The rich people purchased huge candles and stood at the main entrance of the town.

However, there was a poor lady who didn’t have any money, but wanted to hold a candle. She went to the candle shops and begged them for a small candle but they all denied her. At the last candle shop where she went, she told the owner of the shop, "I will shave my black hair so can I buy a candle." The owner purchased the black hair and lady was able to purchase the smallest candle with it.

That night, everyone lit their candles. Wow, the village looked like Las Vegas--the village was so bright with thousands of candles. However, just before Buddha’s group reached the village, a strong wind struck and all of the candlelights were blown out except for the smallest one which was held by the poor lady.

When Buddha’s group entered the village, the light became brighter and covered the entire village. Buddha stopped in front of the lady and knelt on his knees and said, "Thank you very much; I have received your sincere and warm feelings of your heart and it will always show me the path of truth."

This Buddha’s story taught us about "Sincere Heart." Our ancestors shared with us these values and a sincere heart. We inherited these wonderful values. In Japanese, true heart is called "Magokoro."

For us to realize these very important guidance is only "to listen to the teachings of the Buddha Dharma without having any doubts and relying upon Buddha’s wisdom and compassionate heart. Buddha’s teaching provides us the path of truth in our daily lives. Through his guidance, we are able to see the reality of life as it is."

During Hanamatsuri, celebrating Buddha’s birthday, may we all rejoice in the spiritual guidance and joy of happiness. May we all pass it on to the future generations and let them be aware of the Buddha’s great guidance that shows them the path of truth in their lives. The Nembutsu path is Buddha’s great guidance that shows us the way of truth and teaches us to rejoice in the happiness with others. Our great first generation, the Issei, were the pioneers who came from Japan. The Nisei, the second generation, built this temple for us to receive the spiritual guidance and happiness and now it is for all of us to rejoice in the precious lives with others including our children, grandchildren and share it with our community friends.

One of the Shinran Shonin’s great masters, Tao Cho of China said, "People who are born before us guide people who come next, people who are born after us follow the guidance and walk the firm path of truth."

Remember, my Dharma friends, we are inheriting the profound guidance of the Nembutsu, and the happiness and joy through our precious lives.

Buddhism is a joy of happiness which all of us are able to discover in our daily lives. So let’s listen to the Buddha Dharma as our spiritual guide and follow the path of the truth in our precious lives. Hanamatsuri is for us to realize that we all are embraced in Buddha’s great guidance.

Namu Amida Butsu

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