On Jan. 7, 2017, at the California State Assembly, Revs. Bob and Patti Oshita opened the session with a reflection welcoming the new year, newly elected members of the Assembly, and their new beginning as chaplains for that legislative body.
The Oshitas had recently retired from 32 years as resident ministers of the Buddhist Church of Sacramento. Just before retiring, they were honored to be invited to serve as the chaplains for the Assembly.
“Dharma Is Everywhere” is a compilation of the reflections that they shared in opening the Assembly floor sessions over the four years that they served.
As Anthony Rendon, former Assembly speaker, noted in the book’s forward: “The Oshitas were the first Buddhist chaplains of the California State Assembly, and they brought their unique spiritual perspective to our house. Rather than simply speaking to legislators and staff gathered in the chamber for session, they challenged us to look inward and ponder some of the fundamental truths of life and the world around us. The Oshitas endeavored to center us for the work ahead and remind us of the interconnected human impact of all that we do.”
At the beginning of each session, Rev. Bob or Rev. Patti Oshita shared a brief reflection relevant to a specific occasion, such as the Persian New Year, Mother’s Day, or the Day of Remembrance; a particular incident, like the 2019 Super Bowl or yet another school shooting.
Their reflections honored the words and deeds of famous individuals such as Cesar Chavez and Aretha Franklin, and shared personal memories with universal significance, like the joys of love, the wisdom of a child, perspectives on aging, and also the reality of death.
Their reflections honor the value of every human being and remind us never to take anyone or anything for granted. The chaplaincy of Revs. Bob and Patti Oshita ended in December 2020, several months into the coronavirus pandemic.
“Dharma Is Everywhere” includes seven pages of photographs documenting special moments before and during the Oshitas’ term, including visits to the California State Assembly by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and other celebrities. Each of the 166 reflections transmits an encouraging, meaningful message and ends with the phrase, “Namo Amida Butsu … let us live with kindness and gratitude beyond words.”