Headline: The Five Calamities of 2020

Every morning, Rev. Yuki Sugahara of the Oregon Buddhist Temple

produces a live video about Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. He has done this

every day since the end of March 2020. He has talked about the Letters of

Rennyo (Gobunsho), the Jodo Wasan, and (at the time I am writing this),

the Koso Wasan.


On Sept. 13, he talked about the seven calamities mentioned in the

Lotus Sutra. These calamities are: fire, water, evil demons, weapons,

ghosts, imprisonment, and thieves and bandits. Shinran Shonin makes

reference to Master Saicho’s lesson on dealing with the seven calamities

and how this helped to promote the Nembutsu path in Japan.

In this column and in next month’s column, I talk about the five

calamities of 2020 and how the BCA handled them.


1. The Pandemic

The biggest story of 2020 was the novel coronavirus that causes

COVID-19. A virus that originated in Wuhan, China, spread throughout

the entire world. BCA temples had to close and could not conduct in-

person services. Major fundraisers had to be canceled. Dharma

Schools could not continue.


And yet, BCA ministers and minister’s assistants began to put their

services on the internet. Now, the online world could access Dharma talks.

Ministers, like Rev. Sugahara, found followers who lived in other countries

or continents. Our Jodo Shinshu teachings made a home on the internet.

Jodo Shinshu Buddhism could be accessed on a smartphone. Virtual

services and Dharma School classes began. If anything, this helped to

spread the Jodo Shinshu teachings throughout the country.


2. The Recession

Due to the novel coronavirus, many businesses had to shut down.

People lost their jobs. The worldwide economy came to a stop. Airlines,

cruise ships, and railroads no longer had passengers.


And yet, temples began to hold virtual fundraisers. Some temples

raised more than $200,000 this way. Virtual Obon celebrations took place.

Temples raised money and donated businesses that supported the temple

fundraisers in the past.


The Endowment Foundation saw its holdings take huge earning losses

in March and April. And then, the stock market took off and almost all the

losses were replaced with gains that put people and funds in a better

position than what was the case at the start of the year.


3. The Natural Disasters

In the late summer of 2020, there were wildfires in Washington, Oregon,

and California. I had to evacuate my home and spent two days at my local

temple. Floods, hurricanes, and tropical storms hit the Southeastern

United States. Some Southeast Asian countries also had to deal with

floods.


And yet, the BCA Social Welfare Committee changed the criteria for

awarding grants to communities that were in need of funds. The funds

were used to help with basic human needs, like food and shelter. The

Social Welfare Committee made a grant to help fire victims.


The Social Welfare Committee has made a lot of changes in the way they

award grants. Temples that hold fundraisers for the community can get

matching funds. The Social Welfare Committee also put together a loan

program for temples who were having difficulty paying their bills.


The Social Welfare Committee is now looking to work with the Hawaiian

kyodan (and possibly the Canadian kyodan) to try to make a larger impact

on human suffering around the world. Your Thanksgiving offering helps to

allow the Social Welfare Committee make these grants. This is how the

BCA helps to alleviate suffering in the world.

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