WEST LOS ANGELES BUDDHIST TEMPLE BULLETINwestlosa LOS ANGELES BUDDHIST TEMPLE BULLETIN TEL (310) 477-7274 FA ... quake and tsunami in Japan ... 10:00 am our temple will join with Oxnard Bud-
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WEST LOS ANGELES BUDDHIST TEMPLE
BULLETINTEL (310) 477-7274 FAX (310) 477-6674
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.wlabt.org
Vol. 54, No. 5 May 2011
2003 Corinth Avenue West Los Angeles, CA 90025
In Memoriamto all those who died in the Great Earthquake of March 11, 2011 in Japan.
To those who endured and continue to suffer through this unspeakabletragedy, we send our heartfelt thoughts for healing and recovery.
Namo Amida Butsu.
Katsuo Maiya, 73, inconsolable in front of the rubble where his sister-in-laws house stood in Rikuzentakata,Japan. His sister-in-law and her husband were killed in the March 11 earthquake. (AP Photo)
REV. USUKIS PAGE
West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple May 2011
Once again we have witnessed
great uncertainty and the inter-
connected relationship of all
things with the tragic earth-
quake and tsunami in Japan
that occurred on March 11. As of
this writing, people everywhere
are in awe and saddened by this terrible disaster
resulting from the enormous power of nature that
is hidden in every part of the universe. There are
no words to describe or console those who are
still in great despair at this very moment. I can
only share the above words I often read during
memorial services. As we continue to pay our sin-
cere respects to all those who have lost loved ones
or homes, we can only hope that they may recover
as soon as possible and return to their normal
Although we try to plan our lives and hope that
they will be peaceful, happy, and trouble-free, we
are always cognizant and mindful of the reality
that these catastrophes can happen anywhere
and at anytime. It is often when they hit close to
home and affect us directly that we come to truly
wake up to their power. This tragedy has been felt
by many of us because we or someone we know
may have family or friends in the areas affected.
Recall the great tsunami of December 26, 2004
in Southeast Asia. A 9.1-magnitude undersea
quake occurred off the coast of Sumatra and trig-
gered a tsunami that killed some 220,000 people
in countries around the Indian Ocean, including
168,000 in Indonesia and scores in India and Sri
Lanka. At that time we were in disbelief as we
watched videos of the huge wave coming ashore
and carrying inland everything in its path. Al-
though the Japanese tsunami did not take as
many lives, the scene was just as devastating due
to the large number of towns clustered directly on
the coast. Boats, houses, cars, debris, as well as
victims, were carried up to six miles inland. In-
stant video and media coverage enabled us to wit-
ness and feel the magnitude of the destruction
firsthand. Technology has brought us even closer
to actual events in real-time. As a result, I felt
overcome by crushing and indescribable emo-
tions when I first saw the event on television. This
has surely brought everyone in every corner of
the globe closer, and the vastness of the world we
used know has been reduced to local proportions.
With this tragedy the world is also witnessing the
true character of the Japanese people in a way
they may never before have known. All of a sud-
den, they have been exposed to international
scrutiny and speculation about what makes them
so noble, courageous, humble, civil and orderly.
It seems stoic and odd to foreigners. Some have
said that it is due to their long cultural and reli-
Life is a sea of suffering and a valley of tears where flowers are subject to wither,
the full moon soon to wane, where pleasure goes hand in hand with sorrow, and meeting
spells of parting.
Though the sea of life is stormy, and deep the valley of sorrow, even as the moon
sees its reflection on troubled waters and its image in each drop of dew lodged on blades
So will the Light of Amida Buddha shine upon all sentient beings in the ten directions
of the Universe and embrace all with his Compassion and forsakes them not!
Our sufferings and sorrows are eradicated by His Wisdom. Our tears are dried up
by His Compassion. And the darkness in our hearts is dispelled by His Light.
There are many Buddhist explanations of
why calamities happen: from collective
karma to seeing calamities as signs of apoc-
alypse, says Jimmy Yu, an assistant profes-
sor of Buddhism and Chinese religions at
Florida State University...
Indeed, where Christianity, Judaism or Islam
are often preoccupied with causes of disas-
terthe questions of why God would allow
an earthquake, for exampleEastern tradi-
tions like Buddhism and Shinto focus on be-
havior in reaction to tragedy.
Its very important in Japanese life to react
in a positive way, to be persistent and to
clean up in the face of adversity, and their re-
ligions would emphasize that, says Univer-
sity College Cork's Bocking. Theyll say we
have to develop a powerful, even joyful atti-
tude in the face of adversity.
(contd on page 3)
West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple May 2011
The Family Altar (Butsudan) - Adornments(From Traditions of Jodoshinshu Hongwanji-ha
by Rev. Masao Kodani and Rev. Russell Hamada, 1984, pp. 99-100)
- Buddhist Handbook for Shinshu Followers,
Rev. Shoyu Hanayama
Traditionally, only white candles are used during
the religious service. On specially designed occa-
sions such as Shinran Shonins birthday
(Gotanye), red or specially colored candles are
used. Following the end of all religious services,
the candles are extinguished by a quick fanning
motion of the hand or by using a candle snuffer.
The flame of the candle must never be extin-
guished by the blowing of ones breath.
Throughout the sutras, there are countless refer-
rals to the offering of flowers. It is said that to
offer even a single flower, one creates a connec-
tion with the Buddha. Therefore it is not neces-
sary to offer an entire bouquet at all times.
Flowers are beautiful, and in this sense almost
anything can be offered in substitution. But,
flowers are very symbolic of the impermanence of
this life and serve as a reminder of the necessity
to awaken to the Ultimate Truth of Wisdom and
Compassion. The flowers we offer are cut from
the stems. Although we place them in water and
they continue to live for some time, they are nev-
ertheless dying. But yet, we are able to appreciate
their beauty. The flower is very beautiful, vibrant,
and full of life. As human beings, we too are dying
from the instant we are born. Therefore, flowers
are not offered as mere decorations, they are a
constant reminder of our human existence.
Traditionally, any flower in season may be used
as an offering. However, poisonous and thorny
flowers should be avoided if possible. In some of
the larger family Butsudan, there are upper and
lower shelves with vases. This corresponds to the
arrangement found on many temple altar set-
tings. In the vases on the upper level, evergreens
are customarily placed symbolizing longevity. If
at all possible, artificial flowers should not be of-
At the moment there has been no closure. Japan
is still in the first stages of accounting for all
those who have died, disappeared, and been dis-
placed. Much needs to be done in terms of recov-
ery and moving on to the next stage. We can only
observe how their strong character once again be-
comes the backbone of their resolve to rebuild, as
we continue to send our sincere well wishes.
Rev. Fumiaki Usuki
No one can see anything in the darknesswithout light. Candlelight is the symbol ofthe wisdom and compassion of the Buddhawhich illumine the darkness and ignoranceof human beings. The candle flame is al-ways flickering and moving in the breeze.If the breeze is strong enough, the candlewill be extinguished. Like this, the breezeis ignorance or darkness which alwaystries to destroy wisdom, or light. In thissense therefore, it is better to have candle-light than electric light, since electric lightwill never be extinguished by mere breeze.Because of the wisdom of the Buddha, weshall be able to be freed from our passionsand be enlightened. Candle lighting is thesymbol of spiritual light or wisdom, in thedarkness of life.
(Next Bulletin: continuation of Adornments)
Butsudan (continuation from last issue)
West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple May 2011
In the past several weeks as we have watched the multiple catastrophes
in Japan unfold before our eyes, we are left stunned and speechless. The
scale of human suffering is beyond what many of us have ever witnessed.