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Happy New Year!

G Sakamoto and Family

This past year has been difficult for many. There is still much uncertainty. Although there may be improvement for some, others continue to experience overwhelming difficulties. When we experience difficulties sometimes we look for blame, in ourselves and in others. But blame does not resolve anything, it only drags us deeper into darkness. Look for hope. Hope in the life that surrounds each of us. Life in friendship and understanding. Life in doing things for others. Life that is compassion.

Our temple is a wonderful place to be involved. It is a place to think about how I live my life. To begin to recognize and express the deep connection I share with others. Not just with those who agree with my ideas but a relationship with all life, without judgement, without prejudice. There are experiences to be shared with others that have been going on at our temple for a long time. Without much fanfare, but steadily, continually, connecting with others, helping others.

In the earliest days of my work as a minister, I had hoped that we could make a meaningful contribution to society. A hope that we could be of some use to our communities. I have often thought that a hospital or school or shelter would help to ease some of the difficulties we all experience. In the long history of Buddhism there are many examples of Buddhists helping others. If we could create an institution, perhaps we could add our contribution to the welfare of humanity. The prime example is Shakyamuni Buddha standing up from beneath the Bodhi Tree to share his experience with others. To help others become free of difficulties.

My thinking has changed somewhat since those early days. Big programs are certainly important, but the not-so-recognizable programs are just as important. We’re not a hospital yet families of premature babies have enjoyed the warmth of caps and blankets knitted by members and friends of Sangha Crafters. We are not a school yet students in Sri Lanka are able to learn because of our participation in a program that sends school supplies to them. Soldiers, far away from family, may find a smile in the season’s greeting cards sent by some of our students. Families in shelters are able to enjoy a hot meal because of the food prepared by the First Friday group. Through food drives, toiletry collection, education programs and fundraising efforts many lives may have been made a little easier as a result of these activities. Our willingness to participate, to be of some benefit to others, is the result of recognizing the deep relationship we share with all life.

The Buddhadharma is about resolving difficulties by seeing things simply as they are. In Jodo Shinshu, to recognize the kindness I receive, even with all the difficulties that result from my foolishness, is to begin to see things as they are.

Thank you for the many kindnesses extended to our family. May we all enjoy a life settled in the compassion of Amida.

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