Reverend's Message - January 2014

"T'is the Season"

Rev. Dean Koyama

All foolish beings, whether good or evil,
When they hear and entrust to Amida's universal vow,
Are praised by the Buddha as people of vast and excellent understanding;
Such a person is called a pure white lotus.
(Shinran's Shoshin-ge, CWS, p. 70)

As I am visited by the Ghost of the Past year, I recall many of our achievements and events since I transferred to the Palo Alto temple a short half a year ago. The day after my knee surgery, I began my assignment and hobbled around to look at all the wonderful cars that lined our parking lot for the 3rd Summer Classic Car Show. I think this was an indication that functions here are not typical for a temple. And since then I have found that to be so. I was amazed at the work and dedication of all the members who came out for the preparation, administration and clean up for the Obon Festival and Dance. Your work ethic and stamina is truly impressive. Then we had a wonderful turn out for the temple picnic and start of our Dharma School year. And just in the recent past, we completed a wonderful celebration to mark the occasion of the Enlightenment of Sakyamuni Buddha with all of the Dharma School students participating.

As the Ghost of the Future helps to foresee, 2014 we will be concentrating our efforts to welcome our 100th anniversary of our Palo Alto Buddhist Temple. Many people are involved to mark this occasion so that it will be not only festive but also memorable. We are hoping that we can begin some of the much needed improvements to the facilities with the remodel of our temple kitchen, adding new pews to the Hondo, and upgrading our Dharma School classrooms.

For me, it is exciting and gratifying to be part of such an active and viable temple. It is true that the people of the temple make a difference. If the people are cold and stiff, the temple will grow stagnant and lose its membership. If the people are warm, kind and caring, the temple will continue to grow as evident in the attendance of our Sunday services. I hope in the New Year of 2014, we continue to grow and to accept new challenges with a heart of kindness, caring and compassion. I hope that we continue to take responsibilities and to think outside the boundaries and limitations that we place upon ourselves. I hope that we can think BIG (Buddhistically in Gratitude). We have the talent and creativity with which we can boldly look forward to our future.

To reflect on the past and dedicate ourselves to trying to do better is what the Year End and New Year's Day service is all about. The Year End service is observed to express gratitude for the past year and to reflect on the interdependency of all life: on all the things and people who have made it possible for us to live this one year. On a personal note, we have just completed our first seven months with all of you at the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple. You have welcomed us with open arms and I am deeply grateful especially to all of you. Truly you are the white lotuses of the temple and it shows.

We will observe the Joya-E service on December 31 at 7 PM. Come and ring our temple bell. Then we will gather again the next morning for the New Year's Day service at 10 AM. Lets make every effort to gather together with our families to end the Old Year and begin the New one on the right foot by coming to the temple and dedicating ourselves to the way of Nembutsu.

In Gassho,
Rev. Dean Koyama

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