Reverend's Message - July 2013

In the Beginning...

Rev. Dean Koyama

There is a story of a person who had heard of the reputation of the Buddha. One day he sees the Buddha begging in the street and approaches him to see how profound his teachings really were. The person said to the Buddha, "Hey, I hear you are a great teacher, please teach me the essence of your teachings." The Buddha, humbly bowed his head and said, "I have nothing unique to teach nor do I have any eloquence to teach." But the person insisted, "Surely, you must have something to say to show me your path to Enlightenment." The Buddha modestly responded by saying, "Very well, my teaching is this: everything that has a beginning has an end. Each moment is the first time and the last time."

The person regarded these words for a moment and realized how profound they really were and immediately asked to become a disciple. His name was Sariputra and he became one of the 10 famous disciples of the Buddha known for his excellent attributes in learning and in teaching.

This idea that everything has a beginning and an end is truly profound. Related to this is that in many cases we only see the end result and are not aware of what it takes to get to the point. If we order a hamburger at a restaurant, we only are concerned with when we are able to finally eat the hamburger and how it taste. We usually don't think of what had to be done so that we could have the hamburger placed before us.

I finally made it to Palo Alto! It has been about 4 months since it was announced until now that I have assumed the position of the resident minister here at the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple. I am anxious to meet all of you and get to know you as well. I have to admit, although the distance from my previous assignment is only 5 miles away, getting here was not easy.

We began at the beginning of May to move some boxes and small furniture into the temple parsonage garage as the house was not quite ready for us to move in. On May 4th, during one of the hottest weekends of the month, the air conditioning in our 1999 Odyssey Van that we were using to move things went up in smoke. We subsequently found out that it would cost us over $1500 dollars to fix but we didn't know if the van was worth fixing. On May 20th I had an MRI done on my knee that had been giving me trouble since February. Movers came to move the big furniture on May 24th. May 25th and 26th unpacked. On May 27th went back to clean up the house that we lived in for 10.5 years. May 28th had to clean up the temple office so that I could move into the minister's office. That night, I had to buy a new car as a replacement for our van. May 30th moved into the new office. May 31st had knee surgery. Phew!!!! Am I glad that May is over.

We are still living out of boxes, constantly wondering which box we placed certain items that we need now. I can tell it is going to be a long process of unpacking. We just have too much stuff.

As I think about the end result: beginning to serve the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple, it has come about only though the wisdom and compassion of countless others. I have to thank Bishop Umezu who initiated this transfer and to the PABT Board for accepting me. I would also like to thank David Tanaka and the Board for the nice welcome basket that greeted us when we moved and to Glenn Kameda who helped fill me in on the transition and how things are done here at the temple. I thank Rev. Carol Himaka who covered the temple during this transition. Also I want to thank Shiz Kobara who arranged the temple to purchase an SUV that came in handy as a replacement for our van to assist in our move. A special thank you to Floyd Kumagai who has been coming over every day to fix something at our new house. I am sure that there are countless others who I have failed to mention, but none the less wish to acknowledge.

But isn't this the case with anything that happens in our lives? We just see the end result and often times fail to see the work that is involved at the beginning. Buddhism helps us to look beyond just the end result. It helps us to reflect upon the causes and conditions that have helped to make a situation to be what it is. As I begin my assignment here, I wish to thank all those who have gotten me to this point. On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all of you for the warm welcome and kind words of encouragement. I hope and ask for your support and guidance as we walk the path of the Buddha together. I look forward in sharing, learning and growing together with you as we deepen our awareness of the Nembutsu.

Humbly in Gassho,
Rev. Dean Koyama

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