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BCA’s 2024 Theme Is: ‘The Right Time Is Now’

Quote Is From Shin Buddhist Leader Rennyo Shonin


The BCA theme for 2024 is: “The Right Time Is Now.”  


This is a quote from Rennyo Shonin, the eighth Gomonshu of our Shin Buddhist tradition. I am sure that most of you are familiar with Rennyo Shonin as the author of the famous letter on the “White Ashes” that is frequently read at funerals and memorial services. Rennyo Shonin was a tremendous propagator of Shin Buddhism and our Hongwanji grew immensely because of his leadership.  


I want our theme for 2024 to reflect a sense of urgency in regards to our future. We cannot continue to decline at a rate of 28% every decade. At that pace, we will wither away in a matter of a few decades. 


Rennyo Shonin grew the Hongwanji at a time when it was in a state of disarray and decline. Rennyo Shonin built numerous temples and shared the Nembutsu throughout Japan, even remotely, by his letters. In those days, he could not travel around the country by car or by plane like we do today. There were many groups of Nembutsu followers located throughout Japan. Rennyo Shonin wrote letters to his followers and those letters were read aloud at gatherings and were like listening to his sermon directly.  


This particular phrase, “The Right Time Is Now,” is urging us to listen to the Dharma now, to come to receive the Dharma now, not to wait for tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year. 


While we all want our churches and temples to grow, the key to true growth must come from a refocus on the Dharma, on the teachings. When we return to the teachings with a sense of urgency, as if there is no tomorrow, then the teachings become dynamic, relevant, and have an impact on our lives.  


I will never forget one talk by Rev. Tetsuo Unno, in which he said that we should listen to the Dharma with the same attitude as if we were listening to our doctor give us the results of our biopsy …. If we can listen with that kind of urgency, then the right time is always now. 

If we put real listening off because we have this or that, making excuses every week or at every opportunity to listen, then we might never come to the heart of the Dharma.  


Rennyo Shonin urges us not to wait for tomorrow. The right time to listen is — now. 


I will never forget one talk by Rev. Tetsuo Unno, in which he said that we should listen to the Dharma with the same attitude as if we were listening to our doctor give us the results of our biopsy. 


Maybe some of you have had that experience. You have a biopsy of a tumor or mass in your body. You go to your doctor to await the news. It is like hearing the sentence from a judge — guilty or not guilty, life or death.  


If it is benign, then you have life. If it is malignant, then you might face death. There is no putting off hearing that kind of report from your doctor.  You wouldn’t say, “I have a chance to play golf that day, can I come next week instead?”  No. You would go to hear the news from your doctor at the first opportunity.  


If we can listen with that kind of urgency, then the right time is always now.  


By returning to our core, to our foundation, to our essence, we can make the right time now. 


We can make the right time now to listen, to study, to reflect, to engage.  We can make the right time now to share with others what we have come to appreciate about Shin Buddhism and the life of the Nembutsu.  


We can make the right time now to do what we can to support our local temple, our district, and our BCA. We can make the right time now to move the Dharma forward. We can make the right time now to listen to and receive the heart of the Buddha, which is great wisdom and great compassion.  



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