Gotan-e celebration and HBMA Annual General Meeting     1-2

Gotan-e message by Rev Shigenobu Watanabe    2-3

Rev Watanabe spoke for “Spirituality In The Pub”        3

HBMA News-  Lismore Anzac Day Peace Ceremony            4


2018 GOTAN-E Service and AGM were held on 20 May 2018

On 20 May, HBMA members,  supporters and Dharma friends gathered for the Gotan-e service and the Annual General Meeting.

We all expressed our highest respect and gratitude to Shinran Shonin, the founder of Jodo Shinshu, by celebrating his birth into this world. And the service was followed by the 2018 Annual General Meeting .

We welcomed a strong supporter, Mr Norman Fung, as well as our regular members, Mr Victor Davidson, Ms Hiroko Okuyama, Ms Ayako Mitsui-Browne, Ms Junko Verroll, for this commemorative day. We also welcomed few Dharma friends, a honey-moon couple, Ms Aki Chan and Leo Wang, plus Junko brought her friend Ms Hiroko Ishikawa.

During the ceremony, we chanted Shoshin-ge with Junirai tune, and sang “Shuso Gotan-e (Founder’s birthday)” together. Then, I delivered both English and Japanese Dharma messages based on my memories during my University activities for Gotan-e festival.

You may find my message after this article.


After a group photo, the AGM was convened. I was again elected as Chairperson. All activities of HBMA during the year, and financial reports were presented. The new budget for the current calendar year was approved. Everyone also agreed that the need and hopes for the continued existence of HBMA is still very high, and that HBMA should continue functioning here in Sydney. Therefore whatever help you can give to our mission will be greatly appreciated. Please also share your thoughts about our mission with us.

During the month of September, I am again planning to do a fundraiser “Peace Run/Marathon” when the Sydney marathon take place. Therefore, if you wish to donate towards this, it will be much appreciated. Your support will be greatly appreciated! In any case, if you wish to run with me, you would be most welcome!

The members of the Board remains as before. Please give your full support to the re-elected Board Members.


After the AGM, we enjoyed a delicious lunch. Thank you, Mrs Hiroko Okuyama, Ms Ayako Mitsui-Browne, Mr Maximilian Nilsson-Ladner, Ms Junko Verroll and Hiroko Ishikawa, Mr Norman Fung, Ms Aki Chan and Leo Wang, and Yukimi for the beautiful dishes. Thank you for all children – Yushin & Sho – for your presence at this important service. All of your devotion and concern towards our mission is very much appreciated, and together let us carry our HBMA forward.

In Gassho,

Rev Shigenobu Watanabe



Rev Watanabe’s Dharma talk for the Gotan-e 2018

GOTAN-E 2018

“Fuji =Wisteria” is a symbol of our Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha. We can find many wisteria crests (Sagari-fuji) in our Hondo, such as on the Wagesa / Monto Shikisho, Seiten (Service Books), etc. Shinran Shonin was born on 21st May when we can see beautiful wisterias around that time of the year in Japan. Today, we are celebrating our founder’s birthday as we observe Gotan-e service.


The word, “Gotan-e” reminds me when I was a University student at Ryukoku from 1981 – 1984. Ryukoku University has two festivals. One of these was the school festival called Ryukoku-festival, and the other was Gotan-e. For the Gotan-e, when we celebrated Shinran Shonin’s birthday for five days! I was a Law faculty student at that time, and belonged to the fine arts club, called “Bijutsu-bu Artist-Kai”. In 1993, the Gotan-e committee came to see me and asked me to draw the Gotan-e poster.

A big surprise!

I was chosen to do this honorable art-work from among 8,000 students! I somehow accepted to do take up offer as I saw it as a sort of once in a lifetime experience. I was so nervous and  I spent many hours to finish the poster (right). I was not really recognizing Gotan-e and did not draw neither Shinran Shonin nor Amida Buddha. But I did my best to finish it.

The following year which was my final year at the University, the Gotan-e committee once again asked me to draw a Poster.

This time I drew a very simple image. A cartoon-like monk (Shinran Shonin) sitting with his hands in Gassho, surrounded by stylised female figures (right).

At t he time of Shinran Shonin, the Buddhist monks could not talk about women, and kept away from them. All they needed to do was to try to understand what Shakyamuni Buddha said by chanting, studying, and daily temple duties, etc. However, Shonin was distracted by women, so this became a little clue to my second year’s poster. It was a big progress for me since the previous year, as I knew more about Shinran Shonin. I will never forget the impression that I had discovered that Shinran Shonin was the first Buddhist monk to officially get married, which was really unusual scandalous to people at that time.

These days, many Buddhist monks are allowed to get married in Japan. Still some traditions are still oppose it. Over 800 years ago in Japan, the latter idea was very normal. I mean, people’s common sense were different compared to nowadays.

Another thing I would like to mention is “Sangha”. When I was in Canada, majority of Buddhist followers in North America understood Sangha to mean the general Buddhist community, while it originally meant just Buddhist monks, who abandoned family life to engage in many religious practices as their daily routine – not living for money, just begging for their daily meals.

So, since Pure Land Buddhism was introduced by Honen Shonin in Japan, he caused an historical change. That was because, when Shinran Shonin consulted his master Honen, he allowed Shinran Shonin to get married. Shinran was very surprised but very happy.

Honen Shonin said to Shinran;

“I do not insist that my disciples must be vegetarian, and celibate. Jiriki (Self power) Buddhist denominations say that monks/priest do not eat meat, do not get married, because these things may become obstacles to their practices. However, our Pure Land denomination respects people’s everyday lives. And our practice was made by Amida Buddha, and we just accept Buddha’s true mind. I, Honen, am just comfortable with my present situation right now, as I can recite Nembutsu comfortably, so I do not eat meat and not get married. However, you do not need to be like me, you have a choice, you have to be honest to your heart and mind.”

Then, Honen Shonin told Shinran Shonin; “If you will be able to recite Nembutsu more often if you have your wife, you may get married. The basis of our life is always Nembutsu. Nothing comes before Nembutsu. We have to be true to Namo Amida Butsu. So, Shinran Shonin was saved by Honen Shonin’s words, and decided to get married.

Human beings made laws, rules or regulations – whatever we may choose to call such things. And the Buddhist Sangha also made their rules which were not really related to Buddha’s teachings. That’s why Buddhist followers were separated into many denominations. We sometimes need strong determination to change our old customs. We do not need to stay the same. If we do believe another way is better, then all we need is to make the change. Sometimes, it is very difficult but if we think change is necessary, let us do it, otherwise we will regret it for the rest of our lives.

The teaching of Nembutsu is here with us because people chose to live with it, because it was the most suitable teaching for us. We know Amida Buddha does not discriminate people, and saves us equally to the Pure Land. To believe in and appreciate Amida Buddha’s salvation reciting Nembutsu is the most important part of our lives. We never forget to appreciate Honen Shonin and Shinran Shonin for showing us and leading us in the right direction.

On this occasion of Gotan-e service, let us once again recite Namo Amida Butsu appreciating Shinran Shonin’s effort and his great decision.

Namo Amida Butsu

Rev Shigenobu Watanabe



Rev Watanabe participated in

Spirituality In The Pub (SIP) and talked about

“Seeking Contemplation and Meditation”

on 2 May 2018 at The Paddington RSL


On Wednesday 2 May evening, I was invited to talk about  faith in a Pub!

Ms Margaret M Coffey, representatives of a group of people who organise the “Spirituality in the Pub” contacted me at the end of last year, asking me to deliver a talk as they have a monthly gathering at the Paddington RSL club.

About 80 people gathered for this evening session of myself and Ms Judi Taylor, Co-ordinator of “Women’s Night of Spirituality ”.

Ms Taylor is runs the Australian Christian Meditation Community where they welcome local Sufis, Tibetan Buddhism and Jewish groups, and she introduced how important it is to quietly meditate when we are too busy to concentrate.

Buddha also said “Meditation brings wisdom… know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom”.

However, as a Jodo Shinshu minister, I explained, “As we are Pure Land Buddhists, we wholeheartedly  trust and put our faith on Amida Buddha, Buddha of infinite light and life, Buddha of wisdom and compassion, so all we need to do is praise Buddha’s virtue by chanting sutras or reciting Buddha’s name. And I chanted “Shishinrai” at the end of my talk and many attendants appreciated it. I brought my last 4 chanting CDs and they are all sold out!

Thank you Margaret for giving me such a wonderful experience! I was so glad to share my experience and the teaching of Jodo Shinshu to general public!

In Gassho,


Rev Watanabe attended

Remembering and Healing

All inclusive, Multi-faith and Multicultural Service for the Eve & Anzac Day in Lismore

24th and 25th April 2018


Rev Watanabe was once again invited to attend and participate in “Remembering and Healing” – the Multi-faith and Multi-cultural service for Anzac Day Eve on 24 April, and also for Anzac Day on 25 April in Lismore, NSW.

This peace event is always organised by “Remembering and Healing (RaH) Inc. and our friend Ms Sabina Baltruweit is chairing.


In the evening at the Lismore St Andrew’s Anglican Church on Anzac Eve, first of all, Aunty Rev Dorothy Harris-Gordon extended her welcome to Country message. Which was followed by choir songs, messages and prayers for peace from various faith representatives – from Anglican, Atheist, Muslim and Buddhist. Of course, Rev Watanabe represented the Buddhist faith and shared a peace message and chanting. And Dr Alison Broinowski, Vice President of Honest History, shared her deep thought how important to have a true point of view for our history.

At the end of the ceremony we all offered lighted candles at the shrine in the order of faith groups as well as nationalities. There were about two hundred people present on that evening.


On the following day, Anzac Day, the ceremony took place at Lismore Trinity College Hall. This Anzac Day ceremony started right after the official Anzac Day ceremony in Town which was 11 am sharp.

The program was very similar to the day before but more relaxed situation with community choir’s music session which we sang all together and people had really enjoyable time.

But many attendants came to listen to a message from their new Catholic Bishop Gregory Homeing. He loves people to call him just “Bishop Gregory” and he seems like a very friendly Bishop, and very much loved by the people.

After the ceremony we all took turns to decorate a rainbow wall with a white peace ribbon. Then watered the “Tree for Peace”. Finally all stood up and sang for Universal Peace. In gassho,


What is “RaH”?

North Coast Peace Group Remembering and Healing Inc.

RaH stands for a peace-orientated, compassionate, all-inclusive, just and humane society, for upholding human rights for all without exception. RaH works to inspire the wider population to take a stand for these values.

RaH promotes non-violent conflict-resolution at all levels – interpersonal, in the community and internationally.

RaH works to promote understanding and mutual respect between all groups in our wider community, with a strong emphasis on the inclusion of marginalized and ostracized groups,

RaH strives to prevent any glorification of war at commemorations by offering models of all-inclusive, peace-orientated ceremonies.