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SD Holds Special Joint Proclamation Service

The Southern District Ministers Association and the district’s Buddhist Education Committee promoted the “850th Anniversary of Shinran Shonin’s Birth and the 800th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Jodo Shinshu Teaching” in a special joint proclamation service on Oct. 30.


The service, which was hosted by the Gardena Buddhist Church, began with traditional Gagaku music by Senshin Buddhist Temple’s Kinnara Gagaku, and the procession of ministers’ entry into the Hondo and Onaijin.


More than 400 people participated either in person or online for the service.

The Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-Ha, Nishi Hongwanji will recognize and celebrate the “850th Anniversary of Shinran Shonin’s Birth and the 800th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Jodo Shinshu Teaching” in Kyoto, Japan, in 2023.


Bishop Rev. Harada began his Dharma message by describing every 100 years back to the birth of Matsuwakamaro, Shinran Shonin’s birth name, in 1173.


At that time, Rev. Harada said, Japan was in turmoil, with starvation and horrible economic situations with many people suffering. He said similar conditions have existed since that time, and we still see similar conditions of hate, anger, war, starvation, and suffering.

“… now, more than ever, does the world need Buddhism,” Rev. Harada said.


He said we need to focus on Shinran’s wish to spread the Dharma to everyone. Rev. Harada said the observance of the 850th anniversary of the birth of Shinran Shonin and the 800th anniversary of the establishment of Jodo Shinshu Dharma traditions is a recognition that the Shin Buddhist founder’s practices are relevant today and are a path to achieve peace and harmony. These two goals cannot exist if there is still conflict and despair.


Rev. John Iwohara, Gardena Buddhist Church Resident Minister, provided a Dharma message in Japanese, which stressed gratitude for Shinran Shonin’s teaching of Amida’s infinite wisdom and compassion.


Rev. Iwohara said Shinran Shonin shared the Dharma that Amida Buddha is always accepting as we are, and Amida will never abandon us. Special services, memorial services, and services let us gather to hear and listen to the Dharma. Amida welcomes us and in gratitude we recite the Nembutsu. This was the way of Shinran Shonin and it is the way today. By holding these special services, we are reminded of the Dharma, Amida, and the Nembutsu.

Shaku Sennyo Kojun Ohtani Gomonshu from the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-Ha provided a proclamation that was read in English by Rinban Rev. William Briones of Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, and in Japanese by Kyokucho Rev. Koho Takata of the West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple.


“As the manifestation of the ultimate wisdom and compassion that accepts everything as it is, Amida Buddha’s working equally embraces every living being, never to abandon us no matter how egoistic and filled with blind passions we may be when truly realizing how vast the Buddha’s compassion is, we cannot help but feel ashamed of our way of living, that is far from Amida Buddha’s wish,” the proclamation read.


“However, this feeling of shamefulness could motivate us to endeavor to lessen the Buddha’s sorrow even if only limited results were expected,” the proclamation continued. “Furthermore, that sentiment should synchronize with our efforts of sharing Buddha’s Vow with as many people as possible and feeling other’s grief and joy as our own, because these acts are in accord with the wishes of Amida Buddha, and also of Shinran Shonin who aspires for peace and tranquility and the Buddha’s teaching to spread throughout the world.”

Among the attendees were the two IMOP ministers, Revs. Hiroya Sato and Yukari Torii, who are completing a three-month training session at the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley, California.


In addition, it was announced that three minister candidates from the Southern District successfully were presented with graduation certificates from the first Kyoshi Kyoshu training program outside Japan at the JSC.


Congratulations to Rev. Maribeth “Smitty” Smith, San Diego; Rev. Vonn Magnin, Arizona; and Rev. Ko’e Umezu, West Los Angeles.


An expression of gratitude for the full morning service was given to: Bishop Rev. Marvin Harada, Officiant; Rev. Hibiki Murakami, Service Coordinator; Rev. Ko’e Umezu, Chairperson; SD Ministers Association Chair Rev. Koho Takata; SD BEC Chair Rev. Ryuta Furumoto; Rev. John Iwohara, Resident Minister of the Gardena Buddhist Church; Alan Miwa, President of the Gardena Buddhist Church; and the entire GBC Sangha.


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