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‘Oseibo’ and ‘Kisha’: Giving Brings Us Freedom, Happiness

This is one of the verses from “Juseige,” which means “Gatha of the

Repeated Vows.”

Dharmakara Bodhisattva established the 48 vows, and he repeated

the summarization of the 48 vows in the “Juseige.” The verse tells

us that the essence of the 48 vows is Great Compassion.

Dharmakara Bodhisattva, or Amida Buddha, becomes the great

benefactor and saves all unenlightened beings. Thanks to the Vow

Power, we are able to be born in the Pure Land and become the

Buddha. Also, those who receive such Vow Power can be nurtured

to give benefit to others. It is like when we receive a gift from others,

we learn to share with others. 


By the way, many BCA temples hold the “Oseibo” service in

December. The Japanese word “Oseibo” literally means “the end of

the year.” “O” is an honorific prefix, “sei” means year, and “bo”

means the end; however, in Japanese, the word “Oseibo” indicates

“year-end gift.” In Japanese tradition, people send gifts to people to

whom they feel grateful in order to express their gratitude during the

year. They usually send gifts to their parents, grandparents, bosses,

business partners, customers, and teachers. So “Oseibo” is in some

way close to the concept of Thanksgiving and Christmas in the

United States.  People give gifts to show their appreciation to others

for their support, guidance, and kindness. 


December is a good time to give, whether it is for Christmas, Oseibo

or for a tax deduction.   


If we give, we will be happy. We will have some freedom. It is said

that when we send a gift, a so-called “happy hormone” is produced

in our brain and we feel peaceful and less stressed. 


This is the reason a lot of Americans look happy in December. Not

only the people who receive the gifts look happy, but people who

give gifts also get the feeling of well-being. 


We think that the more we have, the more freedom and happiness

we have. If we have more than others, we feel superior to others.

But Buddhism thinks differently. By owning, we are bound by them

and lose freedom. It is true. Many of us are bound by a mortgage,

car loan, maintenance fees, and problems of ownership.


In Shakyamuni Buddha’s order, monks and nuns only own their

robes and a bowl for alms. Their lifestyle is to have the minimum so

that they can get maximum freedom. In Buddhism, the less you

have, the more you will be respected. 


However, it is difficult for laypeople to have the minimum like monks

and nuns, so Shakyamuni Buddha also taught a way for lay

followers to live with less attachments. It is giving. Giving brings us

freedom and happiness. By giving, we are free from the bondage of

our possessions. Giving is sharing too. Sharing connects us and the

feeling of connection brings us peacefulness.


Giving to the temple is sometimes called “Kisha” which means enjoy

throwing. “Ki” means joy, happiness, and “sha” means throw away. If

we have less, we are happier and free, so we can give with joy.

Toward the end of the year, we have many opportunities to practice

“Kisha” at the temple and gift-giving to other people. Let us try it and

see if we can be happy by giving. 




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