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Bishop’s ‘Dial the Dharma’ Adds Spanish

The Buddhist Churches of America’s weekly “Dial the Dharma” message now reaches out to the Spanish-speaking audience.

Adding this new option — translating BCA Bishop Rev. Marvin Harada’s English message to Spanish — is a big boost for the program.

“For many years, we have wanted to do more propagation in the Spanish-speaking community, but never had the opportunity,” Rev. Harada said. “I think it is very exciting to offer the Dharma now in Spanish, even in this small way.”

The “Dial the Dharma” will be available at 800-817-7918 with the following options: Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Japanese, and Press 3 for Spanish.

The idea for adding a third language to the program was initiated by Rev. Kenji Akahoshi, BCA Minister Emeritus and former resident minister of the Buddhist Temple of San Diego.

Arturo Rubio, a Sangha member and Minister’s Assistant with the Buddhist Temple of San Diego, was recommended by Rev. Akahoshi to help with the translations.

“In a conversation that I had with Rev. Harada and Rev. (Jay) Shinseki (resident minister of Monterey Peninsula and Watsonville temples), we discussed temples located in areas with heavier Spanish-speaking populations,” Rev. Akahoshi said. “I mentioned to Rev. Harada about Arturo and what he does for the San Diego temple.”

After a brief interview with Rev. Harada, Rubio was asked to translate a message from English to Spanish. In the meantime, streamlining the logistics with adding a third line was a relatively easy task.

Communication between Rev. Harada and Rubio with translations and recordings went smoothly. By August 3, the first Spanish-language Dharma message translation appeared on “Dial the Dharma.”

“It happened really, really fast,” Rubio said. “It made a lot of sense to me (being fluent in Spanish). I was already providing Spanish video messages (for the Buddhist Temple of San Diego) and accepted the opportunity to help expand the ‘Dial the Dharma’ program.

‘’My background helps. My language skills help. Why not do it? Let’s go ahead and spread the Dharma in Spanish.”

Rubio feels that there are Spanish speakers who have no experience with Buddhism, especially Jodo Shinshu, but who are curious about the religion.

“There are a lot of people who are curious about our philosophy or religion,” he said.

In this case, if it is Jodo Shinshu, having more options to have contact is better, Rubio added. “If we are able to provide different options, including ‘Dial the Dharma,’ it will definitely help with people visiting the websites, the temple and YouTube video,” he said.

Rubio believes that adding this new option and taking five minutes out of one’s day to listen to a quick message by Rev. Harada requires no pressure and commitment.

“A person can listen to the message in the comfort of their own home, perhaps listening to more than one message, and decide if he or she wants to visit the temple,” he said. “This is a very positive change. I think any option that we give, especially to the Spanish-speaking people, is the best thing to do.”

Rubio pointed out that there are not many choices with content online and books related to Jodo Shinshu in Spanish.

“If I can help out by adding the option for Spanish-speaking people interested in learning about Jodo Shinshu, it is the least I can do,” he said.

Rubio looks forward to working with Rev. Harada with the weekly translations and his opportunity to help spread the Dharma.

Rubio, 52, was born in Tijuana, Mexico, the northernmost city in Baja California that borders San Diego. His family, in Mexico, is Catholic.

Rubio has three sons and one granddaughter. His family moved to the United States in 2012, setting up permanent residency in San Diego. He plans on becoming a U.S. citizen in a few years.

His introduction to Buddhism dates back to his days as a youth.

“When I was in elementary school, I was reading a book on history or philosophy and there was a chapter on Siddhartha Gautama,” Rubio said.

“I remember seeing the image of Siddhartha Gautama but did not understand the image or the term enlightenment.”

Apparently, seeing a picture of the Buddha planted a seed for his future spiritual path. While learning about Buddhism and being engaged with Buddhist figures, including the Dalai Lama, Rubio took a college course on world religions, which led to his decision to experience different faiths. Rubio visited various Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches, a Muslim Center and finally the Buddhist Temple of San Diego.

“When I first met Arturo, he said that he was involved with other religious programs and was interested more in the deeper aspects of Buddhism,” Rev. Akahoshi said.

“When I visited the Buddhist Temple of San Diego, I began to learn more about Amida Buddha and Jodo Shinshu,” Rubio said. “I kept going back to BTSD, enjoyed the conversations and participated in the Wednesday Buddhism 1-2-3 sessions.”

Rubio’s interest in Buddhism began to blossom.

“I was first introduced to the temple in 2015. I received my Buddhist name and became a member in 2016,” he said.

Currently, Rubio serves on the temple’s Board of Directors, leads the Dana Group committee and is a member of the Bingo Committee. Rubio also provides a monthly pre-recorded Dharma video in Spanish.

Rubio, along with his wife, Lourdes, and their son, Arturo Jr., attend services regularly.

He credits Rev. Akahoshi for initiating the opportunity to lead the Dana Group and continuing to nurture his interest in Buddhism and Jodo Shinshu, which led to the MA program.

“Kenji Sensei initiated many of the conversations,” Rubio said in reference to Rev. Akahoshi’s encouragement for Rubio to participate in such programs.

When asked if he has any goals as an MA or aspirations on continuing his Buddhist path, Rubio was humble with his outlook.

“I want to complete the courses that I am working on now,” Rubio said, referring to the online classes that he is taking through IBS. “I am open to other opportunities to help the Sangha.

“My path in Jodo Shinshu is a series of causes and conditions. I have nothing specific at this point. I am open to other opportunities whatever may come in the future.”

Part of that future is now reaching out to the Spanish-speaking audience through “Dial the Dharma.”


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1 Comment

Oct 20, 2022

Great news. In such cases, I always used a translator and translated Sinhala To English Now your translation will make my life easier, I just started learning Spanish and it will speed up my process

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