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Place to Get Together

How to Help

The Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple established an Arson Restoration Fund for donations toward rebuilding the temple. 


To make a donation online, go to: https://donate.stripe.com/7sIcNfdwRdi59TW8wy


Donations can also be made via check. Please make checks payable to “Seattle Buddhist Church” and include “Arson Restoration Fund” in the memo list. 


The address is: Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, 1427 S. Main St., Seattle, WA 98144.


 

Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple is currently closed because of the arson fire that happened on Dec. 31, 2023. 


We still don’t know how long it will take to reopen the temple. In the meantime, our neighbor temples and a community hall allow us to hold funeral memorial services, Sunday services, and other events. I truly appreciate their willingness to use their facilities.


A couple of weeks ago, I was driving to White River Buddhist Temple to conduct a funeral service. While driving on a highway, I realized that I left my funeral service chanting book at home. Right away, I returned home to get the service book. 


The next day, Scout Sunday service was scheduled at the Nisei Veterans Committee (NVC) hall. Again, I forgot to take the printed programs. I was lucky because it was close enough to go home before the service started. 


Another Sunday, I went to Tacoma Buddhist Temple to conduct a Sunday service. Can you imagine what mistake I made? 


I forgot to take a white sash worn with a minister’s robe. I tightly tied it with a hakama (pleated skirt) cord instead. I hope no one realized my mistake. 


When a service was held at the Seattle Betsuin temple, I was always able to find the funeral service book, printed programs, and the white sash at the temple. I did not have to worry if I had them or not. It makes me realize how careless I am while using different locations to conduct services.


Because we cannot use Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple now, we always have to find a place to hold services and meetings. To reserve a different location, we need to find out various things. 


For example, those things include: what time a facility is available; how many people can gather there; what are the guidelines to use the facility; how we can arm and disarm the building; and who locks the door. 


We did not have to worry about these things when we were using our temple. Before the fire, many complaints about the temple buildings used to come out from my mouth like — “The temple is so old”; “The light is so dark”; “This building is so complicated”; or “There are too many steps.” 


I seldom appreciated the temple building.  Now, I truly appreciate the temple where people can get together. I am so grateful to have a place where we can meet at the usual time and same places as we always do. 


As Nembutsu followers, there is a realm to get together. It is Amida Buddha’s Pure Land. The Amida Sutra describes an aspect of Amida Buddha’s Pure Land and it says: 


“Sariputra, the people who hear of that land should aspire to be born there. Why? It is because they will be able to meet together with such sages of supreme virtue there.”


In Japanese, it says, “kueissho” (倶会一処”), which means, “to be able to meet together at one place.” When our lives as human beings end, we will be born to Amida Buddha’s Pure Land and join sages and people who were born there before.


I sometimes hear words such as: “I do not care at all after my life ends”; “It will happen in the far future. I don’t need to think about birth in the Pure Land now”; or “It is just a fantasy.” 

I feel that these conclusions are overly simplistic. We need to reflect upon our lives more deeply and sincerely through Buddha’s wisdom. 


The Larger Sutra says, “Human beings, who live in the midst of worldly passions, are born alone and die alone, leave alone and come alone.” 


It is how we live our life. It is possible that my life ends today. But we usually think that death will happen some time in the far future. We do not realize the reality, or we just look away from the truth of our life.


Amida Buddha prepared the Pure Land, which is the realm and place for us to get together and not to get lost. Whenever and wherever our life ends, it is certain for all of us to be able to meet again there. 


The Pure Land has never disappeared or closed — even temporarily. It is always open and welcoming to us. Things are always changing in our life, and no one knows what will happen tomorrow. It is important that we are always mindful of the Pure Land, which is always available for us. Then we can live each single day at ease without losing our way. 

Gassho.


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