The Buddhist Church of Parlier celebrated its 90th anniversary with a virtual Zoom event on Oct. 17 with the theme of “A Celebration of Gratitude.”
The theme perfectly encapsulates the essence of our Jodo Shinshu way of living. We have so much to be thankful for and our religion reinforces that as exemplified in our daily living.
We appreciate what our Issei founders had brought to our community; a vision of bringing Jodo Shinshu to their new home in America. Although they encountered great difficulties, they persevered in establishing those roots.
Following in their footsteps, the Nisei continued to build the legacy of the Nembutsu teaching. Their support allowed following generations the opportunity to hear the Dharma by building our temple and to sustain the dream of the Issei. What our founders had given us is the chance to enjoy the fellowship of our multi-generational Sangha for years to come. We are the beneficiaries of the fruits of their labor. For all of this, our only response can be one of gratitude.
A new sutra, the “Shoya Raisan Ge,” was introduced by Rev. Kazuaki Nakata for the special event. Seattle Betsuin Rinban Rev. Katsuya Kusunoki conducted a Zoom chanting lesson from Seattle in February, which gave us a great start. We practiced it for many months and the results were melodic and beautiful.
A commemorative book was presented to all the members, which included the history of our temple. Although most of us are a few generations removed from the founding of our temple, the written history and pictures really tie us to our beginnings. To realize where we started from and what we have now, personalized the truths of Impermanence, Interdependence and Interconnectedness.
The anniversary service was highlighted by an English and Japanese sermon given by our own Rev. Toshie Mori and Rev. Yuhachiro Mori, who received their Tokudo ordinations in 2014. Their message was touching and heartfelt.
Rev. Toshie’s message told us that the monumental sacrifices made not only by the Issei pioneers, but subsequent generations are so remarkable. They went to great lengths to establish and maintain our church because it was so important to them.
Just as the Issei pioneers had nurtured their fields and crops, they understood that it stemmed from the compassion and wisdom of the Universal Truth. Through the understanding of interdependence or Okagesama, their lives were made possible. They wanted everyone, without discrimination, to hear the Buddha’s calling voice, Namu Amida Butsu, urging us to become awakened.
Rev. Toshie also talked about the stone monument that was erected in 1991 in front of the temple. It is engraved with the phrase, “Gaku Butsu Dai Hi Shin,” which means, “Those who are always eager to learn the heart of great compassion,” which was the spirit of the Issei’s desire to spread the Nembutsu.
Rev. Yuki’s message acknowledged the foundation of hard work and sacrifice upon which the Buddhist Church of Parlier was built. The selfless efforts of our Issei founders are the reason we can enjoy what we have today. Rev. Yuki also talked about our obligation to repay our debt of gratitude to the Issei pioneers who brought the precious Nembutsu teachings to us. The best way to do that is to grow and be awakened as a person of Nembutsu, a true Buddhist, and to teach our children, grandchildren, and others.
The Buddhist Church of Parlier is grateful to have Revs. Toshie, Yuki, Nakagawa and Nakata to guide us into the next decade toward our centennial. We will strive to be an inspirational place, a place of “Ondobo-Ondogyo,” where people can enjoy the Dharma together for many more years to come.