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We are deeply shocked and saddened by the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We wish to express our profound sympathy to the families and friends of the victims.

When we encounter tragic events such as this, we turn to the Buddha for guidance on how to live our lives without hating and harming each other. We recognize that the root of hatred is very difficult to identify. It comes from deep inside of our karmic consciousness. We live our lives based on emotions and feelings of love and hatred. This is the source of our daily actions.

But there is a true and real realm beyond love and hatred. This is the Buddha’s realm; the realm of Enlightenment. Deeply grieving our condition, the Buddha urges us to listen to the Dharma and to hear the words from the world of true equality. Through this realization, we are able to see one another as fellow travelers on a journey to the world of true equality. Regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, and we should live our lives with respect and kindness. 
Namo Amida Butsu

With Palms Together,
Rev. Kodo Umezu, Bishop
Buddhist Churches of America

books books books

I was in Berkeley today and decided to stop by Moe's Books. Well, actually, I was planning on going to Amoeba Records but decided to go to Moe's instead. I used to go in there all the time when I was a student at the Institute of Buddhist Studies since it was just down the street and I was working at Cody's Books right around the corner.

They had some miscellaneous volumes from the Sacred Books of the East series, edited by Max Müller. I quickly identified the ones I was interested in - two of the three volumes of the Vinaya (monastic rules), and volume one of The Questions of King Milinda. Often, we skip over Vinaya texts. As a member of a non-monastic order (Jodo Shinshu), the monastic rules may seem irrelevant if not completely boring. But I had a reason to look up one of the texts while I was a graduate student at Ryukoku University.

my thesis, etc.Collapse )

ghost writer

Every month I write an article for the Buddhist Church of Oakland's newsletter, the Busshin. But writing doesn't come easily to me - in fact, it's one of the things I procrastinate the most. So for December, I had help from my cat Sapphire:


reflecting on significant events

Today, September 1, 2011, marks some very significant anniversaries in my life. For one thing, it marks five years as a BCA minister! Although I performed a "makuragyo" (the service performed immediately after someone dies) a few days before, I officially became the resident minister of the Buddhist Church of Lodi on September 1, 2006. Another anniversary is September 1, 1996 - that was the day I flew out to Berkeley, California from Bedford, Massachusetts, to begin my study of Buddhism at the Institute of Buddhist Studies.

I was looking back at an article I wrote for the Buddhist Church of Oakland's newsletter last year, and found that it dealt with another set of anniversaries - 1990 was also a very significant year in my life. So even though those anniversaries have passed, I actually like what I wrote and thought I would include it here. So as you read, keep in mind that I am talking from the perspective of October 2010!

AnniversariesCollapse )

videos of Dharma Talks

We have a new YouTube channel set up with videos of my Dharma Talks at the Buddhist Church of Oakland. It's still in the early stages, but we should have a pretty good library pretty soon. So far, it's just short messages that I give during the Dharma School Family Service on Sunday mornings.
I will be speaking again at the San Francisco Zen Center (City Center) on Wednesday, September 15 at 7:30 PM. Not sure yet exactly what I will be talking about, but it should be fun! All are welcome!

click here for more informationCollapse )

Waking Up to the Dharma!

Very last minute, but wanted to let everyone know that I will be speaking at the Jodo Shinshu Center on Thursday, August 5, at 6:30 a.m.! This week the Center for Buddhist Education has been holding traditional early morning gatherings, with a service, Dharma Message, and breakfast. I will be speaking about "Buddhist Etiquette."

Click here for the poster with more informationCollapse )

Obon Bazaar this weekend!

Just a quick update that the Buddhist Church of Oakland will be having its Obon Bazaar this Saturday, July 31, from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

You can use the following pages for more detailed information or to help spread the word!

Facebook: obon bazaar on facebook

Yelp: obon bazaar on yelp

Craigslist: obon bazaar on craigslist

Hope to see you there!
The Buddhist Church of Oakland's Nikkoland Bazaar is coming up this weekend! For the first time we have an ad up on Craigslist and of course the obligatory facebook event page. And now we're on Yelp! Feel free to use any of them to share the info around!

But just in case you don't want to click on the links, here's the info:

Saturday June 19 from 3:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Sunday June 20 from 12:00 noon - 7:00 pm.

There will be a wide variety of food including chicken teriyaki, steak, sushi, udon, imagawayaki, hamburgers, and pastries!

Also bingo, children's games, silent auction, raffle, and lots more!

825 Jackson Street, Oakland, CA - conveniently located one block west of the Lake Merritt BART station.
For more information, call 510-832-5988 or visit the website at www.buddhistchurchofoakland.org or post a comment here!


two podcasts (?!!) available!

Good news - my recent talk at the Gay Buddhist Sangha is available here! Just scroll down a little bit, I gave my talk on April 4, 2010. I basically gave an introduction to Jodo Shinshu, since many (if not most) of the attendees were from other traditions.

Also, the first installment from our recent live DharmaRealm podcast is available. We talk about cosmology and the "happiness industry" that Buddhism seems to be represented as. I apologize for the sound quality of the podcast - I forgot to hit record at the beginning! But fortunately we were able to use the video camera recording for the first ten minutes or so.