The Winter Pacific Seminar was held as a hybrid event on Jan. 28 at Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple with the theme of “Hope” from Shinran’s perspective.
The main speakers were Dr. Jessica Main, a professor at the University of British Columbia, and Rev. Yasushi Kigoshi, former president of Otani University in Kyoto. The seminar was presented by the Southern District, the BCA’s Center for Buddhist Education (CBE) and the Institute of Buddhist Studies (IBS).
The approximately 65 attendees who attended in person were primarily from the Southern District temples, and online participants joined from as far as Canada and the Netherlands.
The in-person attendees were served coffee, tea and breakfast pastries. The opening session was held in the temple’s Hondo, while the Japanese session participants moved to the Wisteria chapel to listen to the lecture by Rev. Kigoshi. The Japanese session was moderated by Rev. Koho Takata.
The moderator for the event was IBS President Rev. Dr. David Matsumoto and the opening introduction was by Bishop Rev. Marvin Harada.
Rev. Kigoshi spoke to the Japanese-speaking attendees about his experience leading groups of student volunteers from Otani University to the 2011 northern Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster zone, and putting the experience in a Jodo Shinshu perspective.
Dr. Main addressed the issue of “Hope” from Shinran’s perspective.
As Rev. Harada mentioned in his introduction, “Hope” is not a topic he can recall has ever been used at BCA conferences.
Dr. Main mentioned that it is one thing to translate a term, and another thing entirely to elaborate what it means.
She mentioned two examples. Without changing the translation of the Buddhist paramita "Nin Niku" from "endurance" or "forbearance," she would ask the attendees to consider "courage" to be an implication of that virtue.
As this virtue is said, by Shinran, to emerge naturally on the Nembutsu path, this is a matter of some importance in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.
Turning to the lecture's framing topic, “Hope,” she encouraged the crowd to think of it as part of what emerges from shinjin. ”Hope” is a quality we see in individuals who utter the Nembutsu with trusting and confidence.
Perhaps Dr. Main's emphasis on “Hope,” in looking at how to elaborate what shinjin is, can help us all to have more positive expectations for walking the Nembutsu path happily.
Contributing to this article were Koichi Sayano, of Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, and Rev. Gregory Gibbs, Resident Minister at Pasadena Buddhist Temple and Supervising Minister at Arizona Buddhist Temple and Buddhist Temple of San Diego.