6996 Ontario Rd
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
PO Box 1755
Pismo Beach, CA 93448
San Luis Obispo
Minister: Rev. Naomi Seijo Nakano
I go to the Buddha for guidance
I go to the Dharma for guidance
I go to the Sangha for guidance
Ti-Sarana (Three Refuges) translation in
Shin Buddhist Service Book, pg. 31
It seems we hear about Amida Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, the Buddha Dharma (teachings), the founder
of Jodo Shinshu (Shinran Shonin) but how many times have we heard about the significance of a Sangha?
A historical definition of Sangha refers to “disciples who gathered around Shakyamuni Buddha.” During
the Buddha’s time in India, there was a harsh caste system. Due to the compassion and wisdom of Shakyamuni Buddha, the Buddha Dharma was open to everyone who wanted to hear of the teachings. These teachings were then heard and passed down to other teachers in foreign lands. Shinran Shonin, the founder, believed that Jodo Shinshu should not have any boundaries. It should cross any social line, ethnic divisions and even national boundaries. Shinran Shonin believed that we are “all fellow practicers” who gather together with equality and non-discrimination.
The mother temple, Honpa Hongwanji or Nishi Hongwanji in Kyoto, Japan specifically uses the Japanese term “monto” and “monshinto” which means, “fellow practicers who are on equal standing, all sharing the same life and all enable to live according to the same teaching”. I write this article because I saw a Sangha of “fellow practicers” who gave selflessly of their time, muscle and people power to assure others a good time of pleasure, eats and companionship. This Sangha consisted of retired people, professional people, farmers, sales people, accountants, rich and poor. We were equal at that time and place.
They actually start to plan right after the golf tournament for the next year. It is discussed of positive and negatives and lists are made with emphasis on advertisement, grocery list, committee assignments, getting sponsorships, raffle prizes, and so much more. All this is behind the scenes and so many “fellow practicers” work long and hard. We do ask a lot of our fellow practicers. However it is through the teachings that we have learned to share our compassion and wisdom. It is not like all these people have a lot of spare time, yet they volunteer.
We have a bigger event soon approaching and it will take many hours of preparation, patience and organization to pull it off. The proceeds will help the temple to stay alive so that we can continue to spread and hear the teachings of the Buddha and Shinran Shonin, I hear a lot of “I am too old” or “the younger people have the energy”. However it is a Sangha working together who make a temple. It is not an individual or individuals but a group that gather together as One. This is not a plea for help but to make one think beyond one’s own ego.
Fellow practicers want to hear and incorporate the teachings into their daily lives, however if one does not have the opportunity to hear, where do we go to learn of these teachings? It is the Sangha that makes a temple. It is nice to have a physical building, and it does provide a place to leave the “outside world” for a while. However it is those real, live sentient beings that put others first before themselves that make a temple.
We are so fortunate to have a temple, however it takes funding to open its doors and we do have to have fundraisers. We take our time to give and we never ask for anything in return. This is the first of the Six Paramitas. We share our Nembutsu and roll up our sleeves and dive into washing dishes, serving, emptying wastebaskets, or whatever has to be done and the truth is it does take some effort to be a Sangha member. We actually have to give up a little of our ego. It is Namu Amida Butsu in gratitude and thankfulness that we can hear and learn. We put our palms together in Gassho and become One as a Sangha.
Gassho Rev. Naomi Seijo Nakano