The Federation of Dharma School Teachers’ League first awarded the Mr. and Mrs. Fred Nitta scholarship in 1966. The Nittas set out to award and recognize our outstanding Buddhist youth by establishing a scholarship.
This year, we are fortunate to honor two very deserving BCA youths: Ms. Shanti Takata of the Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, and Ms. Zora Uyeda-Hale of the Berkeley Buddhist Temple. This month we will feature Ms. Shanti Takata.
Shanti Takata is the daughter of Rev. Koho and Yuka Takata, and the sister of Kaylee Takata. Rev. Koho Takata is the Resident Minister of the West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple and Kyokucho of the Southern District Ministers’ Association.
Shanti Takata has not only achieved high academic standards through her qualification for the California Scholarship Federation for all four years in high school and the National Honor Society as a senior, but also contributes to her temple and community.
She is currently serving as the Jr. YBA President and boasts 17 years of perfect attendance in Dharma School. She is an accomplished varsity track and field competitor and served as editor of her school’s yearbook. She also volunteers with the Nisei Week Foundation as well as Kizuna in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, sharing Japanese American culture with the children.
During the course of her life, she has moved from Hawaii to Arizona to Los Angeles and West Los Angeles. Shanti’s experience with different communities has augmented her realization of how the basic Buddhist teachings are intertwined with the hate, violence and intolerance we hear about so often on the news. She has learned to focus on minimizing the ego and think of others to avoid tragedy.
“As I look around the world today, I see the various tragedies caused by our three poisons: greed, anger and ignorance,” she said. “If it is convenient for us to accept, we pursue our desires. If it is inconvenient for us to accept, we express our dissatisfaction. Our behaviors, words, and thoughts, originate in our three poisons and are capable of doing anything, including harming others when specific causes and conditions emerge within us. Thus, our minds are the dangerous weapons that lead us to repeat tragedies in our family, society or world, no matter how minor or great they are, such as war, hate crime, racial prejudice and so on.
“True hatred does not cease at any point in time,” she continued. “True love is suffocated by hatred. Anger only produces more anger. Revenge can only be overcome by abandoning revenge. We should remember that under the law of Dharma, everyone deserves to be valued and treated equally. All beings are the same and equal in Buddha’s Enlightened eyes.
“When I lived in Arizona, I was surrounded by many red rocks, which are wonderful representation of peace. Despite decades of degradation, human interference, weather conditions and dust storms, rocks can endure the elements. A rock cannot harm anyone or anything on its own. A rock is peaceful when it is alone, snuggled in the earth, and immobile in a meditative state. A rock is an ideal representation of peace since it can withstand years of abuse without retaliating with violence.
“I believe that Jodo Shinshu is the path that enables us to reduce our self-centered lifestyle by hearing the Teachings of Amida Buddha. The Buddha made the Primal Vow to save those who repeatedly make the same mistakes and carry the three poisons. Listening to the Buddha-Dharma will guide us to strive for peace in our homes, temples, communities, countries and the world.”
We congratulate Shanti Takata and wish her the best as she continues her education at San Francisco State University where she will begin her studies in kinesiology to further serve others as a physical therapist in the field of sports.