...Buddhism for Urban America
Urban Dharma Newsletter... December 23, 2003
This Issue: Buddhist Christmas
A Buddhist Christmas Tree ...Weekly
A Buddhist Christmas Story ...A Christmas Story from the
3. Christmas Dharma ...by Lama Thubten Yeshe
4. Christmas Practice ...Santoshni Perara
5. "Giving loving kindness at Christmas" - by
6. Converting Christmas ...By Rev. Oswin Hollenbeck
7. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week:
The Manitoba Buddhist Church
8. Book/CD/Movie Review: None
Update... Last week I changed UrbanDharma.org's web-hosting
and file structure. Everything is just about back to normal,
except - because of the file changes a lot of the pages folks
have links to no longer work. Most notable is the "LA Buddhist-
Catholic Dialogue" web-site. Sorry for any inconvenience.
Peace and have a mindful holiday, Kusala
new address's are -
Center Parish Asso.
A Buddhist Christmas Tree ...Weekly
major religion has an important holy day sometime between mid-November
and mid-January. Not one can claim to own the season entirely
unto itself. ” This is the third year I have begun my
annual Bodhi Day message with this idea. Bodhi Day is the date
we celebrate of Shakyamuni’s enlightenment under the Bodhi
Tree. Our Buddhist community in the Manitoba Buddhist Church
celebrates early in December this appearance of Buddhahood in
is an important date for the entire Winnipeg faith community,
as well, because it gives those of the dominant faith a chance
to acquaint themselves with those who share the Holy Days. The
interaction of the faith communities has not always been a pleasant
story, as the events of Sept. 11 have shown. I just returned
from an intensive meditation/study session in Kyoto.
English speaking newspapers there had several articles about
the future of religion in light of the recent war. One article
argued impressively that all of the religions need to re-examine
their truth claims in the wake of Sept. 11 events. It is indeed
touching to see how some of the faith communities are reaching
out towards each other, sometimes hesitantly, beyond their faith
enclaves. It is surely true for our interracial and interfaith
community at the Manitoba Buddhist Church.
question for these Holy Days in 2001 is this: why should we
have to depend on Sept. 11? Is it not possible to reach out
to one another in light of the Holy Season? Then our reactions
would be more pro-active rather than merely reactive. Will the
war move us in the direction of a society of religious robots
in cookie-cutter faith ghettos? Will the loss of democratic
rights in the face of terrorism lead also to the loss of religious
Holy Season offers us a way to face these questions. We may
start by asking forgiveness, offering forgiveness and seeking
theological accommodations for ‘the others.’ In
that spirit, I ask forgiveness for any insult directed towards
those of another faith. I also sincerely forgive those who have
persecuted Buddhism in the name of their faith. I further pledge
to seek theological accommodations that view other faiths as
participants in the power of the saving grace emanating from
deep within my own.
once again I will erect my Buddhist Christmas tree, my Bodhi
Tree. There will be dragons, elephants and fantastic birds from
our sacred stories, the Jataka Tales. For the post Sept. 11
world, I will also include a symbol for other faiths. This will
be a kind of Interfaith-Bodhi-Christmas-Tree for the Holy Days.
I am most anxious to see what kind of gifts Santa Claus will
leave for me under this kind of tree. Fredrich Ulrich, Sensei
Manitoba Buddhist Church.
A Buddhist Christmas Story ...A Christmas Story from the
time a young man inherited 4 farms form his father. He also
married his childhood sweetheart. He celebrated his good fortune
by building a great house with servants and many rooms.
the children were born the man bought many toys. He filled the
children's rooms with toys of many colors and sizes. The children
loved to play for hours in their nursery.
day a fire broke our in the house. The father shout, "Run
everybody." Naturally he expected his children to run out
of the house with them. But they didn't follow the mother and
father outside to safety. The parents called and called to the
children, but they did not want to leave their wonderful toys.
A neighbor who had come to help out with the fire suggested
that they lure the children outside with more new toys. "But
we don't have any," said the father. "We'll just make
them up," suggested the tear faced mother as the flames
grew hotter and hotter.
on out," shouted the father and mother together. "We
have horses, carts, jumping frogs, mechanical dolls, bows and
even a monkey."
children left the burning house and their beloved toys to see
the new ones and thus were saved. When the smoke cleared from
their eyes they saw the house destroyed. They also noticed that
there were really no new toys to be seen at all. For the first
time in their lives they knew what it was to have nothing and
be very grateful indeed.
Christmas Dharma ...by Lama Thubten Yeshe
given to Western students at Kopan Monastery on Christmas Eve
we see each other again on Christmas Eve for the celebration
of Holy Jesus' birth, let us do so in peace and with a good
vibration and a happy mind. I think it would be wonderful. To
attend the celebration with an angry disposition would be so
sad. Come instead with a beautiful motivation and much love.
Have no discrimination, but see everything as a golden flower,
even your worst enemy. Then Christmas, which so often produces
an agitated mind, will become so beautiful.
you change your mental attitude, the external vision also changes.
This is a true turning of the mind. There is no doubt about
this. I am not special, but I have had experience of doing this,
and it works. You people are so intelligent, so you can understand
how the mind has this ability to change itself and its environment.
There is no reason why this change cannot be for the better.
of you might think, "Oh, I want to have nothing to do with
Jesus, nothing to do with the Bible." This is a very angry,
emotional attitude to have towards Christianity. If you really
understood, you would recognize that what Jesus taught was,
"Love!" It is as simple and as profound as that. If
you had true love within you, I am sure you would feel much
more peaceful than you do now.
do you normally think of love? Be honest. It is always involved
with discriminations, isn't it? Just look around this room and
see if anyone here is an object of your love. Why do you discriminate
so sharply between friend and enemy? Why do you see such a big
difference between yourself and others?
the Buddhist teaching, this falsely discriminating attitude
is called dualism. Jesus said that such an attitude is the opposite
of true love. Therefore, is there any one of us who has the
pure love that Jesus was talking about? If we do not, we should
not criticize his teachings or feel they are irrelevent to us.
We are the ones who have misunderstood, perhaps knowing the
words of his teachings, but never acting upon them.
are so many beautiful sentences in the Bible, but I do not recall
reading that Jesus ever said that without your doing anything
whatsoever -- without preparing yourself in some way -- the
Holy Spirit would descend upon you, whoosh! If you do not act
the way He said you should act, there is no Holy Spirit existent
anywhere for you.
I have read in the Bible has the same connotation as the Buddhist
teachings on equilibrium, compassion and changing one's ego-attachment
into love for others. It may not be immediately obvious how
to train your mind to develop these attitudes, but it is certainly
possible to do so. Only our selfishness and closed-mindedness
true realizations, the mind is no longer egotistically concerned
with its own salvation. With true love, one no longer behaves
dualistically; feeling very attached to some people, distant
from others and totally indifferent to the rest. It is so simple.
In the ordinary personality, the mind is always divided against
itself, always fighting and disturbing its own peace.
teachings on love are very practical. Do not put religion somewhere
up in the sky and feel you are stuck down here on Earth. If
the actions of body, speech and mind are in accordance with
loving kindness, you automatically become a truly religious
person. To be religious does not mean that you attend certain
teachings. If you listen to teachings and misinterpret them,
you are in fact, the opposite of religious. And it is only because
you do not understand a certain teaching that you abuse religion.
of deep understanding leads to partisanship. The ego feels,
"I am a Buddhist, therefore Christianity must be all wrong."
This is very harmful to true religious feeling. You do not destroy
a religion with bombs, but with hatred. More importantly, you
destroy the peacefulness of your own mind. It does not matter
if you express your hatred with words or not. The mere thoughts
of hatred automatically destroys your peace.
true love does not depend on physical expression. You should
realize this. True love is a feeling deep within you. It is
not just a matter of wearing a smile on your face and looking
happy. Rather, it arises from a heartfelt understanding of every
other being's suffering and radiates out to them indiscriminately.
It does not favor a chosen few to the exclusion of everyone
if someone hits you and you react with anger or great alarm,
crying, "What has happened to me?" this also has nothing
to do with a mind knowing the meaning of true love. It is just
the ignorant preoccupation of the ego within its own welfare.
How much wiser it is to realize, "Being hit does not really
harm me. My delusion of hatred is an enemy that harms me much
more than this." Reflecting like this allows true love
These teachings came from a wonderful book we once had at our
center called Silent Mind, Holy Mind, a collection of
talks given by Lama Yeshe at Kopan Monastery at the end one
of the early month-long Kopan Meditation Courses. Western students
had gathered on Christmas Eve, feeling a little out-of-place
and unsure of what to do with their feelings of "missing
out on Christmas," most of their early spiritual practice
in this life.
sensing their confusing feelings, had them go to the meditation
hall where he gave these talks about Christmas and Buddhist
practice. These were recorded and later became the book published
by Wisdom Publications. Our copy at the center has long-ago
disappeared and the book is no longer in print, but this excerpt
remains and we share it here with our Net-Friends. Merry
Christmas Practice ...Santoshni Perara
wintry nip is already in the air. By mid-November, the shops
will herald in the shopping season. From the first sighting
of tinsel in the high street, commercial Xmas will be rolling
on with Xmas cards, Xmas shopping, carols , the Xmas hit single,
Xmas lights, turkeys, food, and more food, alcohol… I
don’t have to go on; we know what the Xmas frenzy can
difficult not to get swept by the infectious euphoria of the
Xmas tide… or, if as Buddhists, we feel that Xmas is not
for us to celebrate, we can easily become cynical Scrooges or
merely join in for the sake of family and tradition. Can this
mass midwinter celebration of the Christian world hold anything
for Buddhist practitioners?
Buddhist practitioner is a full-time "reflecter".
As such, we can use this opportunity to reflect on the many
aspects of Christmas. The midwinter solstice heralds the birth
of Spring; daylight gradually overtakes the long nights of winter.
The hope and joy of the birth of another year coincides with
the celebration of the birth of the Christian prophet. Remembering
in this manner the birth of a wise, compassionate teacher we
can reflect on the ever-present potential for goodness and truth
to manifest through the human heart and mind. All religious
traditions celebrate the birth of their prophet or teacher.
This is a time of showing gratitude for their life, their example
and their teachings.
I like about the significance of Wesak, the Buddhist equivalent
of Christmas, is that it incorporates not only the birth, but
also the enlightenment and the "parinibbana" of the
Buddha. A Buddhist contemplating birth also reflects on "death",
as any conditioned phenomena, be it thoughts, feelings, or actions,
that arise will also cease. However, in between birth and cessation
exists the potential for transformation – the potential
to go beyond birth and death. That is the significance of the
Buddha’s enlightenment on Wesak full moon day and Jesus’s
transfiguration at Easter.
those who follow the teachings of the wise, every birth of a
new day, a new year, a new thought, emotion or activity, is
an opportunity to transcend the conditioned realm of birth and
Buddha outlined what needs to be done to break free from the
darkness of our ignorance. Isn’t it significant that lamps,
lanterns and lights feature in festivals that celebrate the
birth of a great teacher? It is symbolic of how their teaching
brings the light of wisdom which dispels the gloom of ignorance.
Sri Lanka, people celebrate Wesak by lighting hundreds of patiently
hand-crafted paper lanterns. So, as those lights are switched
on in Regent Street this year, we can renew our commitment to
the Noble Eightfold Path which enables the practitioner to embody
the luminescence of wisdom by dispelling the darkness of ignorance.
can regard this season for giving and receiving gifts as an
intensified practice of dana and we can remind ourselves that
generosity does not only consist of giving material things,
but also of our time, labour and love. Dana, hangs together
with sila (Xmas festivities provide a good opportunity to be
mindful of the fifth precept!) and bhavana (less TV on Boxing
Day?). We can send out messages of metta and mudita.
can practice karuna towards those for whom Xmas is a time of
hardship and trauma – the homeless, the elderly and the
millions of turkeys going to slaughter. And, we can experience
Xmas with equanimity by not slinking away from it with aversion
and cynicism or getting caught up in the mindless commercial
euphoria but with the knowing that as with all such events,
Xmas festivities will arise and cease but what is going to be
of value are the changes that may have taken place in us in
the space between. Happy Christmas!
"Giving loving kindness at Christmas"
- by Sian Spanner
this article Sian Spanner considers how she will deal with Xmas
at her in-laws. Sian believes that the key to peace and happiness
at Xmas is attained through giving loving kindness.
year I will be spending Christmas with my in-laws. Since making
this decision in August, we have all been in talks about dietary
requirements, gifts, guests, transport arrangements etc. Coupled
with these talks has been the odd outburst of angst, frustration,
door slamming and tears which appears to accompany the very
thought of being in a confined space with ones family.
truth is I would love to spend my end of year holiday with my
friends at a Buddhist Centre. I would like to believe that my
motivation is to spend the time meditating on compassion. In
reality I just want to have a rest, enjoy the quiet and not
have to make too much effort with other people.
from the point of view of Buddha’s teachings, I am making
a mistake. At the UK Dharma Celebration in October Gen-La Samden,
the Deputy Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition,
very kindly pointed this imprisoning habit out to us. He asked
us why we bring so much harm to others and ourselves? Why the
door slamming, why the tears, why the anger? Why would I rather
be in a Buddhist centre this Christmas?
explained that whilst the mind is under the control of delusions
(e.g. anger, attachment) we have complete conviction that the
way we perceive a situation or a person is true. Based on this
perception our minds react in an unbalanced way. For example,
for me Christmas with my friends = good (happy), Christmas with
the in-laws = bad (unhappy). It’s as though I have unearthed
‘the truth’ of what Christmas with the in-laws is
actually like and consequently I will relate to them in a negative
way. This is how we cause so much harm. This is what causes
our anxiety, our pain, our anger, and our disappointment especially
at Christmas when we are ruled by our expectations.
reminded me that the judgement my mind has reached is not an
objective truth; it is actually just a subjective reality. This
means that how I perceive a situation depends entirely on my
state of mind, there is nothing coming from the side of my in-laws
that is inherently good or bad. We can put a lot of energy into
creating the best conditions but if our mind is unhappy then
we will not enjoy ourselves or be of benefit to others. An example
of this happened only this week when I met one of my best friends
in one of our favourite restaurants and my mood was so negative
that neither of us enjoyed ourselves. Alternatively, if we have
a happy, peaceful mind any given situation can become a source
of enjoyment and we will be able to help and inspire others."
if our experience depends upon our state of mind, what minds
would be of benefit this Christmas? I am sure that the subjective
reality I would like at Christmas is one rooted in love and
compassion. In reality it is not my in laws that I am dreading
but my state of mind. I fear the negative feelings that arise
when my mind loses its patience, kindness and love. Gen-La very
beautifully encouraged us to open our hearts to the beings around
us, not just those who make us feel nice. He said, “…
our hearts should melt when we meet people. When was the last
time your heart melted?” Good question.
has given us many methods to generate these minds and there
is one that has particular relevance at Christmas. In his book
Eight Steps to Happiness, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the Spiritual
Director of the New Kadampa Tradition, writes:
“All living beings deserve to be cherished because of
the tremendous kindness they have shown us…Even simple
pleasures such as going for a walk or watching a beautiful sunset
can be seen to be the result of the kindness of innumerable
living beings. Our skills and abilities all come form the kindness
of others; we had to be taught how to eat, how to walk, how
to talk and how to read and write. Even the language we speak
is not our own invention but the product of many generations…All
the facilities we take for granted, such as houses, cars, roads,
shops, schools, hospitals and cinemas are produced solely through
others’ kindness. When we travel by bus or car we take
the roads for granted but many people worked very hard to build
them and make them safe for us.”
contemplating this can give rise to very lovely minds, such
as minds of gratitude and love. By meditating on the benefits
we receive through the actions of others we can gradually develop
a good heart to those around us. When our heart is open and
warm our minds relax, our defences disappear and others enjoy
being with us because they feel cherished.
this it is natural that we shall be able to act affectionately
and kindly to others. Small gestures like getting up early and
taking a cup of tea to everyone in bed, or just simply asking
what we can do to help, feel effortless. The warmth that arises
gives us the energy and inspiration to be of benefit to others.
This is a transforming and beautiful experience for everyone.
all complain that Christmas has become too commercialised, that
it’s has lost it’s meaning. We would all love to
have a peaceful and happy time. Gen-La proposed that we have
a responsibility to live wisely and act compassionately. What
better gift could I give to my in laws this Christmas?
Converting Christmas ...By Rev. Oswin Hollenbeck
Winter Holiday Decorations
winter holiday decorations represent in visual form what the
world and universe looked like when Shakyamuni Buddha realized
enlightenment. These decorations also are derived from descriptions
of various Pure Lands presided over by a celestial or transcendental
Buddha such as Amitábha (Amida), which are again, from
our tradition’s point of view, representations of Nirvana
or enlightenment. As we adapt Buddhism to a western culture,
Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett, the founder of our Order, was innovative
and creative in drawing freely from Christian and pre-Christian
northern European (pagan) symbols and customs to allow our Buddhist
winter holidays to fit into the surrounding culture.
enlightenment is traditionally observed in northern Buddhism
(China, Japan, Korea) on December 8th. Temples of our Order
often schedule the public celebration of the holiday on December
25th or on a December Sunday convenient for the laity. Gifts
representing the Dharma and other offerings of love and gratitude
trees represent the Bodhi-tree, the beautiful Indian fig tree
with shimmering heart-shaped leaves under which the Buddha realized
enlightenment. Any sort of tree will do—Throssel Hole
Buddhist Abbey in England uses an artificial tree resembling
the original Bo tree. Pine trees in the East, and by extension
other conifers, are considered to symbolize the Eternal, since
they are ever-green, that is, not changing with the seasons.
trees are described in the Scriptures as “bejeweled, heavy
with blossoms and fruit,” strung with garlands and nets
of flowers, jewels, and bells, all of which radiate and reflect
light. Most of our traditional Christmas tree ornaments can
be seen to have Buddhist meaning:
are precious and beautiful. In ancient times there were seven
gems especially valued: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal,
agate, ruby or pearl, and carnelian.1 Jewel-like ornaments can
represent the Three Treasures, the Teaching or a portion thereof,
or the wish-fulfilling jewel (often a pearl), the Buddha Nature
within each of us which can satisfy the Heart’s deepest
seem to be a favorite, almost universal offering, pleasing to
see in beauty, form, texture, color and scent. A full blossom
often represents enlightenment. Various flowers have specific
meanings in Buddhism, such as the lotus, representing the path
of training, and the plum blossom, symbolizing the Zen transmission.
being the product of the flower, can represent the results of
training and the deeds of merit we practice on the Bodhisattva
path, such as charity, benevolence, tenderness and sympathy.
They are nourishing and sweet. The Healing Buddha Bhaisájyaguru
often holds in His hand a piece of fruit, representing the medicine
of meditation or the Dharma.
of the above, as well the Buddha Himself and everything around
Him, emanated and reflected light, the true nature of the universe.
Also, the moment of Shakyamuni’s enlightenment occurred
when He saw the morning star rising in the eastern sky.
trees are sometimes described hung with bells which tinkle musically
in the air. Devas (heavenly beings) and celestial musicians
beat drums and make other “pleasing music”. Sometimes
the trees themselves mysteriously produce music. All of these
can represent the sound or voice of the Dharma.
of the ornaments above frequently hang from garlands and nets,
which together with chains, tassels, and banners often drape
the jewel trees.
a bit of imagination, other traditional ornaments may be “converted”
for use on a Buddhist jewel tree: angels become devas and celestial
musicians; birds approximate dragons and garudas, or become
another source for the beautiful music; snowflakes remind us
are also many other Buddhist symbols which lend themselves to
being fashioned into ornaments: the Wheel of the Dharma (Dharmachakra),
a conch shell (representing the Voice of the Eternal), the knot
of Eternity (representing the everlasting love of the Eternal),
and other of the “eight auspicious symbols” used
to venerate the Buddha.2 Stupas of various sorts and designs
can represent different traditions and cultures. Animals with
specific symbolism such as lions, elephants, and dragons may
be used, as well as other animals from the Jataka tales with
special significance for you and your training. Lastly, ornaments
in which one places a photo work well for favorite Buddhas,
Bodhisattvas, Arahants, your master or teacher, or members of
your family or loved ones. Use what works best for you and your
family and friends.
references for “jewel trees” and adornments: From
the opening of The Avatamsaka (Flower Garland) Sutra, one
of the traditional Scriptures of the Serene Reflection Meditation
(So¯to¯ Zen) tradition:
have I heard. At one time the Buddha was [residing] in the land
of Magadha, in a state of purity, at the site of enlightenment,
having just realized true awareness. The ground was solid and
firm, made of diamond, adorned with exquisite jewel discs and
myriad precious flowers, with pure clear crystals…There
were banners of precious stones, constantly emitting shining
light and producing beautiful sounds. Nets of myriad gems and
garlands of exquisitely scented flowers hung all around. The
finest jewels appeared spontaneously, raining inexhaustible
quantities of gems and beautiful flowers all over the earth.
There were rows of jewel trees, their branches and foliage lustrous
tree of enlightenment was tall and outstanding. Its trunk was
diamond, its main boughs were lapis lazuli, its branches and
twigs were of various precious elements. The leaves, spreading
in all directions, provided shade, like clouds. The precious
blossoms were of various colors, the branching twigs spread
out their shadows. Also the fruits were jewels containing a
blazing radiance. They were together with the flowers in great
arrays. The entire circumference of the tree emanated light;
within the light there rained precious stones, and within each
gem were enlightening beings [Bodhisattvas], in great hosts
like clouds, simultaneously appearing….The tree of enlightenment
constantly gave forth sublime sounds speaking various truths
The Scripture on the Immeasurable Life of the Tathagata,
a chapter of The Lotus Sutra:
will this realm [Pure Land] of Mine be, ever filled with devas
and humans in parks and groves, amongst towers and palaces bedecked
with gems of every kind. Under bejeweled trees, heavy with blossoms
and fruit, may these beings take their delight and play, whilst
devas beat their heavenly drums, ever making pleasing music,
and showering down coral tree flowers upon the Buddha and His
The Threefold Lotus Sutra, Kato/Underhill trans. (Tokyo:
Ko¯sei Publishing, 1975), Glossary, “precious seven,”
The eight symbols are fish, parasol, conch shell, lotus blossom,
victory banner, sacred water vase, Dharma wheel, and knot of
eternity. See The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen,
Fischer-Schreiber, etal, trans. by Michael Kohn (Boston: Shambhala,
1991), p. 62.
The Flower Ornament Scripture, Volume 1, trans. Thomas
Cleary (Boulder: Shambhala, 1984), p. 55.
Buddhist Writings on Meditation and Daily Practice: The Serene
Reflection Meditation Tradition, trans. Rev. Hubert Nearman,
eds. Rev. Master P.T.N.H. Jiyu-Kennett and Rev. Daizui MacPhillamy
(Mount. Shasta, California: Shasta Abbey Press, 1994), p. 36.
The Manitoba Buddhist Church
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MANITOBA BUDDHIST CHURCH
Manitoba Buddhist Church has its origins in the events surrounding
the contentious evacuation of the Japanese-Canadians during
WWII. Over 1000 Japanese -Canadians arrived in Manitoba with
the promise of keeping the families together, work and housing.
These families endured many hardships including racial, religious
and cultural persecution. At the end of the war their was some
interest in removing Japanese-Canadians from Manitoba, but there
were those who spoke out in their favor, including the Winnipeg
1946 these Manitobans began to organize to build a church for
moral, spiritual, social and cultural activities. In 1947 the
WFP published the first announcement of a Buddhist religious
event in Manitoba. This was obon, a very important yearly memorial
service in the Shin Buddhist tradition usually held in July
or August. Hideo Nishimura, a farm worker in Emerson, became
the lay minister and later after study in Japan full minister
(sensei) of the fledgling church. A beautiful altar arrived
in 1951 and by 1952 the church was up and running with a language
school, a Sunday School and regular Sunday services. It celebrated
its 50th anniversary in 1996. The church survives today because
of the selfless devotion of its members throughout its 53-year
money, time, and energy devoted to this church can not truly
be comprehended by those of us who stand as beneficiaries of
those past efforts. Nor can we underestimate the difficulties
they endured, difficulties which included racial prejudice and
faith prejudice. Our only recourse is to express our gratitude
by continuing to make the teachings of the Buddha available
to the Winnipeg community. We are especially grateful to those
who have persisted in their Buddhist faith against all odds.
It is one of the ironies of history that Buddhism is now one
of the fastest growing religions in North America. As the Buddhist
scriptures become more available in English it is clear that
they offer a sound faith that benefits family and community
Japanese-Canadians have remained quietly persistent in their
efforts to make Winnipeg a better community. They have been
so successful it is now difficult to imagine Winnipeg without
Buddhist Churches of Canada, of which the church in Manitoba
is a member, will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2005
with 16 groups in Canada. This history represents a bold experiment
in cultural adaptations. Recently, many other Buddhist groups
have come to Canada. Cities like Edmonton and Calgary for example
boast of over 20 Buddhist groups. For the larger centres the
number is even higher. There are fewer that 10 in the Winnipeg
region but the number of smaller groups is growing. Many still
cling to their ethnic origins and their ethnic languages.
Buddhist Churches of Canada, however, is presented with some
interesting demographics. These loyal Canadians adopted the
'church' as understood in the Protestant traditions after WWII
as a model for its spiritual community. Other Buddhist communities
still offer the Oriental model and visiting them provides an
altogether different experience. It will be interesting to watch
the evolution of Canadian Western Buddhism. Will the 'church'
model prevail or does the future of Buddhism in Canada lie with
a wider choice of models? The future clearly lies with the use
of the English language. Currently the chanting is offered in
the liturgical language since we have not yet developed a good
way to chant in English. All other elements of the services
are offered in English. Two chants, the invocation and the Triple
Treasure of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, are done in Sanskrit, the
language of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha.
a 'church' it now is subject to all the challenges of churches.
Challenges such as keeping young people involved, finding adequate
materials on the faith in English, music and the all pervasive
question of how to finance churches in Canada are held in common
with the churches of other faiths.
is also a 60% to 90% intermarriage rate in the Buddhist Churches
of Canada. This means that we enjoy the privilege of interfaith
marriages, interracial families and families with more than
one language. Our success with this rich heritage moves us to
be actively involved in the interfaith movement and movements
for racial harmony.
are rapidly developing the skills of learning to live in an
interfaith and interracial city, now communities like the Manitoba
Buddhist Church are taking the leadership in evolving strategies
for interfaith/interracial families to live together in mutual
respect and support. We maintain a deep respect for the Japanese
roots of the tradition, but realize that the modern plant has
grown to include all Canadians in a movement to develop a Western
are invited to join us in this adventure.
Senseis Nishimura (1946-1971), Moriki (1969-1975), Hayashi (1975-1984),
Terasaki (1985), Miyakawa (1985-1999), Ulrich (1999-- )
on the history of Shin Buddhism in Canada: BUKKYO TOZEN, Terry
Watada. HpF Press and Toronto Buddhist Church, ISBN 0-9699502-0-9.
on the teachings: OCEAN, Kenneth K. Tanaka, WisdomOcean Publications.
Manitoba Buddhist Church - Jodo-shin-shu Buddhism
of Shin: Shinran (1173-1262)
Amida Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Life and Light
1) The Larger Scripture on Infinite Life, 2) The Smaller
Scripture on Infinite Life, 3) The Meditation Scripture on Infinite
Having awakened to the compassion of Amida Buddha we rejoice
in the assurance of Buddhahood and we shall endeavor to live
a life of gratitude and service.
Promise: This Buddhist community is joined together by the
gladness of receiving the Awakening of Faith of Amida Buddha.
As Shin Buddhists we shall seek to be humble and sincere in
words and deeds, to be responsible citizens of our society and
to share with others the teachings of Shinran and the Buddha
for the betterment of our society. Understanding fully the
principle of causality, we shall not practice petitionary prayer
or magic and do not depend on astrology and superstitions.
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