Successful Annual Obon& HBMA Re-Opning Service 1
Obon story for children & message for the adults 1-3
Rev Watanabe attended Dr Sangay’s lecture at SOH 4
Volunteer Appreciation Day at RNSH 4
Run for PEACE on 17 Sep &Run for the future of HBMA
Rev Watanabe will join the Sydney Running Festival on 17 Sep and first time ever he will run 42.195km for the World Peace and also the future of Hongwanji Buddhist Mission of Australia! If you wish to donate for this event to support Reverend’s run, please make a donation to the following account; Account name: HBMA
BSB 032-197 Account No: 48-1501 Description: Peace Run
Successful Annual OBON &HBMA Re-Opening Service
20 August 2017
On 12 August, we observed the Annual Obon service combined with Re-Opening of Hongwanji Buddhist Mission of Australia with our members and supporters. This is the fifth different location since HBMA was officially established in Australia.
We were able to observe and celebrate this very first service at this new centre in Gordon with 20 people. We welcomed four new people, Ms Shizuka Takeda, Mr Max Nilsson-Ladner, Ms Fumie Takahashi and Ms MiyokoHoride, which made this service very special!
The Obon service is a wonderful occasion for rejoicing in the awakening offered by the Buddha, and this is also an opportunity to express our gratitude not only to our ancestors, but also to all who have passed on into Amida Buddha’s Jodo (Pure Land). Therefore, Obon is often referred as Kangi-e (歓喜会), which means“Gathering of Joy”.
We started the service at 11am. After chanting the Amida Sutra, we took it in turns to offer incense.
For the children’s Dharma message, I talked about famous Obon story about Mokuren (Maudgalyayana) and his mother.
Origin of Obon /Kangi-e
One of the ten great disciples of Sakyamuni Buddha, was Mokuren. He loved his mother, because his mother loved him very much.
According to the Ullambana Sutra, one day Mokuren was reflecting upon his beloved mother who had already passed away. At that time, a question came to his mind, “Where did my mother go, and what she is doing now?”
He had supernatural powers, which he had obtained through his hard practice, so he was able to see people who had already died. So, Mokuren used this power to search for his beloved mother and found her. Alas! It was a big and sad surprise for Mokuren that his mother was suffering in the hell of hungry demons. It was an unbelievable scene for him. His mother was very skinny and almost just flesh and bone. Mokuren rushed to her trying to offer some food, but all of it caught fire in front of his mother. He tried many times but nothing worked. Mokuren had no idea what to do, so, he went to see Sakyamuni Buddha.
Buddha listened to the story, and then told Mokuren why his mother had to go to such a world;
“Mokuren, your mother is suffering right now, because she did something wrong when she was in the human world”.
But, Mokuren could not believe it and said;
“She was always a very kind and wonderful mother, what did she do?”
Sakyamuni said, “I know she was really a wonderful mother, but she was good only to you, not to others. Whenever she had something good, she hid it from others and gave it to you, Mokuren. Your mother never shared things with others.”
Mokuren said, “Is it because of me?”
“Yes, Mokuren.” Buddha replied, “She loved you too much”.
Mokuren then asked, “What can I do for her?”
Buddha said, “There is a way to save your mother. Because she did not share things with others, she went to the hell of hungry demons. Therefore, if you offer and share things with others on behalf of your mother, and if they are pleased, then your mother will be all right.”
In accordance with Buddha’s word, Mokuren prepared many kinds of food and shared it with all the Buddha’s disciples on the last day of their summer study meeting on 15 August. They ate everything and all the disciples were very pleased. Then Mokuren was finally able to see his mother’s peaceful smiling face. Mokuren was very happy as he jumped and danced with joy!
Since then, every year on the same day, the same thing has been done. This is the origin of the Obon and the Obon dance.
As I write this article, I wonder if we are still doing the same thing as Mokuren’s mother. Whenever we get something good, we don’t share it with others, but only share it with our children. From the Buddha’s point of view, all human actions are beset with selfishness. So we can’t count how many selfish acts we make for the sake of our children, family or loved ones. These actions may commit us to the Hell of hungry demons. The only way for our salvation is to encounter the Vow of Amida Buddha; to encounter the teaching of the Nembutsu, and live the life of appreciation, embraced in the arms of Amida Buddha.
Let us recite Namo Amida Butsu showing our appreciation to Amida Buddha who works all the time for us all. – Namo Amida Butsu – .
After sharing a Dharma message for children, I talked to the adults as follows.
As for me Shinran, I have never said the nembutsu even once for the repose of my departed father and mother. For all sentient beings, without exception, have been our parents and brothers and sisters in the course of countless lives in many states of existence. On attaining Buddhahood after this present life, we can save every one of them. Were saying the nembutsu indeed a good act in which I strove through my own powers, then I might direct the merit thus gained toward saving my father and mother. But this is not the case. If, however, simply abandoning self-power, we quickly attain enlightenment in the Pure Land, we will be able to save, by means of transcendent powers, first those with whom we have close karmic relations, whatever karmic suffering they may have sunk to in the six realms through the four modes of birth. Thus were his words.
– Tannisho chapter 5 –
Obon is a time to reflect upon our loved ones who departed before us and show our appreciation to Amida Buddha who let them be born into the Pure Land saving all of us who encountered the teaching of nembutsu.
We all commemorate our loved ones who have already departed from us at this Obon time. However, as Jodo Shinshu followers, we shouldn’t miss the essence of the Obon. Remember that if we only think about our ancestors at this time, it won’t be a religious observance. Each one of us should be involved in this service. That is, we should think about and realize our own future lives. Because, we are also going to join Amida Buddha’s Pure Land where our ancestors are.
There is a famous Haiku (Japanese 17 syllable poem) which describes our human world as not being permanent. It says “Chiru Sakura Nokoru Sakura moChiru Sakura (Cherry blossom fall, there are some left in the branches, but inevitably all blossoms fall).” There are no exceptions for anyone to live forever.
As Rennyo Shonin also wrote in his letter: “We have not heard of anyone receiving human form which lasts for ten thousand years. The course of life ebbs very rapidly. Can a person preserve his body for a hundred years at the present time? Not knowing whether death will come today or tomorrow, those who depart from us are as countless as the drops of dew.”
Rennyo Shonin ended his message as follows: “Thus, we see that what man cannot control is the passing away of the young, and old alike. Therefore, we should all look to our future life and with deep reliance in Amida Buddha repeat His Holy Name.”
Therefore, Obon is the time to think about our life and our future life, even if we are still young. In our busy everyday lives, Obon service gives us a good opportunity to think about ourselves, reflect upon our relatives or friends’ passing. If we could spend some quiet time thinking about our future life, Obon becomes a very meaningful day for each one of us.
As you may notice from the passage I read at the beginning, Shinran Shonin said, “I have never said the nembutsu even once for the repose of my departed father and mother”. According to the story of Obon Sutra, Mokuren offered food for everyone, by his action his mother who was in the Hell of hungry demons was relieved. All living beings have been our parents and brothers and sisters in the course of countless lives in many states of existence. So, we shouldn’t be selfish but think about all other lives at the same time.
Then, the question is, “Where are we going after our present life?” “Where is our permanent home?” Our life is to be compared to a journey, however we all have a mutual home to return. That’s why we are able to enjoy our daily lives. This mutual home was prepared by Amida Buddha since He became a Buddha. You would find this sentence, “ShojoZenninKueIssho”, in Amida Sutra. This means ‘those who respect Amida Buddha and rejoice in His wisdom and compassion, reciting Namo Amida Butsu are going to meet together at Pure Land.’ Shinran Shonin also told his followers; “Let us certainly meet again at Jodo (Pure Land) without fail.”
On Obon day, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to our ancestors to let us encounter the teachings and have a precious moment to think about our future life. We are grateful to Amida Buddha for preparing our mutual home to go back. Let us recite nembutsu, expressing our appreciation to Amida Buddha for letting us have a wonderful journey in this life, and welcoming us to His Land. – In Gassho,
After the service, we all enjoyed an O-toki Potluck lunch prepared by those who attended the service. My sincere appreciation goes to Mr & Mrs Victor and Jill Davidson, Ms Ayako Mitsui, Mr Norman Fung and Laszlo, Ms Mayumi Price & Ms Mieko Nagai, Mr Leo Wong and his fiancé Ms Aki Chan, Ms Shizuka Takeda, Mr Masahiro Tada, Ms Fumie Takahashi, Ms MiyakoHoride, Mr Max Nilsson-Ladner, and finally to my wife Yukimi. I believe that without the involvement of all those people, this year’s Obon wouldn’t have been so successful. I am really grateful from the bottom of my heart for all the support of each one of you for HBMA. In Gassho,
Rev Shigenobu Watanabe
Please join in to theCowra Service of Respect
Sunday 24 September
If you are interested in joining the Cowra memorial service which will be held on Sunday 24. You are most welcome to join in this one day trip. We have few seats left for those people. Please contact HBMA office ASAP if you are interested in! In Gassho,
Rev Watanabe joined to the lecture made by
the democratically elected political leader
of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)
Saturday 5 August 2017 @ Sydney Opera House
Mr LakpaTshoko, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, kindly invited Rev Watanabe to be a part of the special lecture made by Dr LobsangSangay at the STUDIO of Sydney Opera House.
Dr Sangay has been the democratically elected political leader of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), ever since His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama devolved his political power in 2011.
Dr Sangay’s lecture was about “Tibet in the 21st century — Political Environmental Cultural & Economic Challenges.”
And this special event’s interviewer was a SBS Newscaster Ms Liz Deep-Jones who did a wonderful job!
Mr Sangay was very optimistic and his talk was very informative and enjoyable one influencing all the listeners.
Now we all look forward to welcoming His Holiness Dalai Lama next year here in Sydney. In Gassho,
Rev Watanabe was invited to join RNSH Volunteer Appreciation Day!
24 July 2017
Ms Anna Bosch, Volunteer Coordinator of the Royal North Shore Hospital kindly invited Rev Watanabe to join the Volunteer Appreciation Day event on 24 July. Ms Bosch expressed her appreciation to Rev Watanabe for his volunteer work during last 16 years.
Rev Shigenobu Watanabe