February 2019 Message

“Bodhi Day Talks”
by Jr. YBA Students - 12/19/18

Gabby Tirsell

“One should make haste in doing good deeds; for the mind of one who does not do good tends to take delight in doing evil.”

Good morning everyone, I’m Gabby Tirsell. The quote I chose was said by the Buddha in around 540 BCE, way before anyone here was born, probably way before my great great great grandparents were even born as well. Surprisingly this quote still remains applicable today, but if I were to find a translation into modern slang I think this Buddhism for kids book does a pretty good job.

“Do good right away. If you wait it will be too late.”

When I was a kid, I loved going to my grandma’s house. She’d teach me Japanese words, and hide coins around the house for me to find. I associate all these wonderful memories with my grandma, but only when I grew up and started to understand the world did I realize how extraordinary my grandma was. The oldest of five siblings, the sole caretaker of her two parents, the baseball enthusiast, and the girl who was forced to grow up at such a young age after her family was interned at heart mountain.

I remember asking my mom: why can’t grandma be a minister? Isn’t she Buddhist? And when my mom started laughing, I asked: Is it because she’s not enlightened enough? I was soon to learn that since my grandma was retired she probably wouldn’t want to go back to work. But my questions about enlightenment continued. Who here believes they’re enlightened?

I know I’m not, and I definitely know my parents aren’t either. Even though my grandma is the most selfless and caring person I’ve ever known, she isn’t enlightened. This state of enlightenment on some hyperaware level, I’ve never believed it was even possible for me to achieve, and I’d like to believe it’s the same way for most everyday people.

And I started thinking, maybe being enlightened isn’t permanent a state of being, but it exists in the small moments of kindness everyday. From letting that rude driver pass you on the freeway, smiling and greeting friends and strangers, helping someone in need, all are small moments of being aware of your actions, and of being enlightened in some way.

Just like the book said, “do good right away, if you wait it’ll be too late.” I believe my grandma really had the best understanding of this concept by achieving those small moments of kindness everyday. She passed away this past Spring, and it’s obvious how much of an impact she had on me and on the world around me, all I can do now is learn from her and try to do good right away, because if I brush it off until tomorrow it becomes to late. The time we have is limited, and I’d like to spend it achieving these small moments of enlightenment and living my best life.

Elena Atluri

Let me recount for you a conversation I commonly have with one of my friends:
Friend: Hey, are you doing anything Sunday?
Me: Yeah, I’m going to temple in the morning.
Friend: Oh yeah! Your monk thing!
Me: I’m not a monk...

I’ve always sort of struggled with what to say when asked what I am doing on Sunday morning. We are called the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple, so I can say I’m going to temple, but I don’t want people to think I’m going to a Hindu temple. Or since our temple is part of the Buddhist Churches of America, I can say I’m going to church. In many ways, we’re pretty similar to Christian churches. We both have services Sunday morning, pews to sit in, gathas instead of hymns, Dharma school instead of Sunday School. But I have the same problem with saying church - I don’t want people to think I’m Christian.

I’m not in the business of preaching Buddhism, so I don’t really bother to explain what I’m doing Sunday morning unless I’m asked if I’m Christian or Hindu. But I flip between the two based on the situation I’m in. If I’m talking to a friend who I know is Christian, I will say temple. I normally say temple, unless I really don’t want to explain, then I say church. Church is easier, more common than temple. Maybe sometimes people do get the wrong idea, but I’ve sort of realized over the years that it doesn’t really matter what other people think about me, as long as I know who I am.

My parents used to have a poster on the wall of their room with four lines of some sort of Buddhist message. I assume it has to do with awakening, because that was written in big letters on the side. The poster was from one of Reverend Matsuda’s service. I’m not sure exactly what these set of rules are called, and Google wasn’t helpful. The four lines read as follows:
Do good
Cease evil
Know yourself
This is an ancient law

Today I want to talk a little bit about the third line, ‘Know yourself.’ While the poster had been taken down long ago, this was the one rule that I remembered. Also, I find the first two lines to be very ambiguous. While in my experience, most people believe there is good, evil, and a lot of stuff in between, I personally believe that there is no good or evil, and that everything is in between, mostly around the half and half area. This would be a whole different talk, but if anyone wants to debate me on morality and ethics later, I would be happy to; I find it very interesting. Lastly, the fourth and last line is hard to talk about without knowing the rest of the lines, so I will skip out on this today as well.

It’s hard not to care what other people think about you. We have all done things to make ourselves fit better into society as to not be ostracized. For me, I’ve had trouble with the color of my skin. Because I’m brown, people commonly assume I’m Indian, when I’m actually half Indian, half Japanese. I’ve been called a weeaboo when I talk about anime. I used to defensively argue, “I’m Japanese! I can’t be a weeaboo.” When I entered high school, I encountered a group of non-Japanese, proudly self proclaimed weeaboos. At first I was confused as to why anyone would intentionally call themselves by what I viewed as a derogatory term. However, after taking some time to get to know them, I realized that they used the term weeaboo to show their pride in loving anime. They didn’t particularly care how the non-anime-loving community viewed them. They were simply happy to be part of a group that shared the same interests as them.

These small experiences taught me that as long as you know who you are, it doesn’t really matter who other people think you are. Other people’s perceptions of you can’t change who you are. You can allow them to influence you, but you don’t have to. And, once you have an idea of who you are, it’s a lot easier to not allow other people to affect your self identity.

Currently, I have a better sense of who I am and so it doesn’t really matter who other people think I am. This is not to say that I know 100% who I am, or that I know who I want to be in the future. But I have started on the path of discovering myself as a person, and I think this is an important step in life that all of us at some point must take on the path to awakening - we must all learn to know ourselves.

Connor Burns

Good morning everyone. My name is Conner Burns, I’m 17 and a member of the Kawazoye family. I’m currently attending Prospect High School in San Jose, and I’m in my senior and final year of high school. Senior year as many of you know entails to gaining the new pressure that is handed to almost every high school senior, and that’s college applications. Of course I started my college applications perhaps a few too months later than I should’ve, but when wondering what I was going to talk about, reflecting on my past experiences and everything I have been through, there were so many times where I would think, “wow I could totally use this for my Bodhi Day speech this year”. I came to this realization so often because when I thought back on my past experiences, I realized exactly how much Buddhism incorporated into my daily life. A prime example of this is the eSports club at my school.

Now first off, I'm sure that 90% of this audience is unfamiliar with what esports is so let me explain that first. So Electronic sports, or esports for short, is essentially competitive video gaming. Now as stupid as that sounds to some you, this is one of the hottest trending markets in recent times, reaching higher worldwide viewership than nearly the NBA finals and World series combined in recent years. Not only becoming a booming market for those all over the world, as you could imagine eSports has reached the youthful generation of as well, and has become a huge passion for many kids all over the world. I learned this quickly when me and a couple of my friends decided to found the eSports club for our school back in 2016. To our disbelief, it was a complete success, with around 150 kids attending our first club meeting. 150 kids. From a school of around only 1500 students that's about one tenth of our entire student body, which is absolutely insane.

When founding the club, my friends and I wanted to create a space to help out fellow students who we could relate to - people who felt afraid of meeting others and those who felt like they didn't belong. We wanted to shatter the negative stereotype that scared these students from being themselves, the stereotype that labels video gamers as anti-social introverts. People were afraid to show what they love because of what other people thought, and me and my friends wanted to show that they truly belong. Seeing everyone’s happy faces at that first meeting, the excitement that someone had finally taken the initiative to unite a previously underrated community on campus made me realize that making a more helpful community for the people around me is one of the best things I can do. I quickly realized that helping others who have trouble connecting with people they may not know is truly fulfilling. To see the happiness on their faces makes me hope I can continue to do this much more often, even after I graduate. Especially since I’ve done 4 of these speeches by now, I have seen how buddhism has made its way into my daily life in many different ways. Thank you for listening (:

Josh Tanaka

Good morning everyone, my name is Josh Tanaka and I’m a sophomore at Gunn high school. Today I will be talking about how the words from the Loving Kindness Meditation “live in peace and harmony” relates to my basketball experience. As many of you may or may not know I play for the Gunn basketball team and I mainly play point-guard, the position that the well known Steph Curry plays but unlike Curry I can’t shoot. This position has stuck with me throughout my whole career, because I’m not very tall, and like I said I can’t really shoot. And out of all the positions on the court in my opinion I’d say that the point guard is mostly related to Buddhism. In most cases, people tend to only care about how many baskets are scored and how they’re scored, no one really takes into account on how the play begins. And this is where I’ll start my speech by saying that the point guard is closely related to peace and harmony. Peace is defined as freedom from disturbance; tranquility or calmness. This is exactly what a point guard means, they notice a situation and when things start to get discombobulated they call for the ball and tell their fellow players to reset the play, which again calms down the situation so that the play can be better performed. And this is what brings to my second word harmony. Harmony is defined in many terms but there are two that connect to my speech. The first is that the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole, a word that is relatable is balance. As many of you may know basketball is all about fluidity. You can have four players run through the play perfectly but once someone doesn’t execute the play properly it goes downhill from there. So this is where balance comes from, relatable to peace balance is used to control the team. The second is the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions. This one relates to basketball because when you have the right camaraderie and chemistry between your players your team performs at your best. At the end of the day it is just a game and it is most important to appreciate the relationships between you and the people around you. And with that statement I would like to conclude with gassho.

Mia Davis

Hello. My name is Mia. I am a junior at Westmont High School. I am a part of my schools ASB, Associated Student Body. Many high school have a tradition of doing a Winter Wish Week. Winter Wishes is a way for ASB to recognize and help people with needs and wants. Every student is able to wish for something from a pack of gum to a computer to a vacation. There are no limits on any of the wishes. They fill out a google form with their wish and reason why they want ASB to grant it. Then ASB goes through all of the wishes and find 10 of the most meaningful wishes or “Oprah Moment Wish” to grant in front of the entire school at an assembly. About 300 other smaller wishes are granted in front of the students classmates also. I was so excited to be apart of the gift giving this year. Since I was little I was always told kindness and Dana, or selfless giving, goes a long way. One of the most meaningful Oprah Moments to me was one that was granted to my friend John who is a senior and his little sister Alexias who is a sophomore. They were both born in Mexico and at the ages of 3 and 5 their parents passed away. They moved here to live with their Aunt and Uncle yet they never received their parents ashes. Alexias had wished to get her parents’ ashes back from Mexico. ASB was so touched by this so we were able to give them two necklaces to hold some ashes and two urns for their house. We also gave them an American Airlines voucher that would cover a round trip to Mexico. Seeing how they reacted beautiful. They were full of tears and so was so many others at the assembly. Winter Wishes can be very stressful for ASB trying to get everything together but after seeing how happy the recipients are it completely pays off. I had the pleasure to present one of the wishes at the assembly. Some of the varsity girls soccer players wished for some things for their former coach/teacher at my school, Mr. Schembri. He was diagnosed with Lymphoma Cancer over a year ago and was admitted to the hospital for another round of chemotherapy this past Thursday. He was not able to make it to the assembly because it was this past Friday, but his parents, wife, sister, and two kids were all in the front row to accept his wish. At the assembly, I did something that I had never done before. I cried in front of my entire school. Watching his family and his former soccer players cry because of the things I was presenting to him moved me to tears. All of his family members hugged me and thanked me after I was done presenting and it made me feel close to some people that I had never met before. Buddhism taught me that acts of Dana can be impactful and very important. Granting the wish to Mr. Schembri didn’t only impact him, but it impacted his family, his players and me. I was so happy and appreciative that I got to be apart of something that helps people through difficult times in their lives.