Friday – Wednesday

Update from Shami Kanse walk!  With Gassho…

viaFriday – Wednesday

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It’s Friday?!

via It’s Friday?!

An update from Shami Kansei on his journey!  With Gassho…


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Upcoming Enkyoji Retreat Registration!

Upcoming Enkyoji Retreat! Join us!

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Wednesday 18th July

Hello everyone,

Have you been following Shami Kanse Capon in his path, “walking withCaptain James blog”?

Wednesday 18th July

There was a very interesting situation on his journey that he encountered Jehovah Witness believers.

Of course, like most feverant religious believers they had the simple mindset to comb the masses until a few disinchanted or fearful people that they were able to catch with their message, strayed from the heard.  Many people for example, the woman who chanted loudly “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo”, stated that they simply bothered her morning.

What should be our behavior in this situation?

I would like to share with you what I have learned through the many encounters that I have had throughout my life with zealous religious believers.

Since I was 18 years old, I have wore Buddhist robes.  To to many Western religious people this was seen as confusing and they treated me as never being able to be brought back from the dark side.  I have fine too far, they thought.

I remember one time meeting with a Bishop in Buffalo and upon meeting him he immediately asked where I was from, I stated that I was from Wheatfield New York and that my mother was Chatholic.  He then said, “well what happened to you?”.  I was so irritated by this offhand humor, that I stated, “what do you mean?”. The room went silent.  Of course, at that time the Church was growing it’s relationships with other Faith’s.

I remember from that point I became more direct with my practice.  Of course, I had seen the ridiculous behavior of some other Nichiren Buddhist groups doing the same thing, basically barking until you believed it or walked away.  So I made a few rules of how to approach a religious conversation.  First is appropriate timing?  Secondly that I would actually listen to their points wholeheartedly and thirdly that I would make it known that they should listen as well and that if you want to discuss this we will it do it frankly and with no quarter.  If you can accept all of this we will have a religious discussion.

It is interesting to see that when there is the potential of a blunt conversation, that I will not simply and politey let them ramble and what is expected expected to happen.  Without fail, almost all change the subject or attempt to move forward at their own peril.

I believe that we are Bodhisattvas and that when a “searcher” comes to us, it is our responsibility to teach them in the many ways of our faith, respectfully and maturely.  As Nichiren Shonin stated, “I will never submit, until defeated by a man of reason!”

With Gassho,

Kanjin Cederman Shonin

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Good and Bad Times!

cartoon Nichiren Shonin study

Good and Bad Times!

“The Odaimoku A Guide Through the Good and Bad Times”

I decided to write this article, to start the New Year!  Because as many of us do, we hope this year will be better than the last.

Well, as you know good and bad in Buddhism are considered illusionary standards, because they are based on simplistic dualistic categorizing  in our mind of reality.  This means simply, how we think things should be as apposed to what they really are, essentially empty and impermanent.  But the human mind of our nature uses the tool of dualism for comparison and explanation.   Such as hugs good, drugs bad, or at least we should think so.  But as we know in our profound ignorance our minds are upside down.  I have a  favorite Confucian saying that alludes to this confusion, “What the common man considers good, the wise man considers evil and what the wise man considers evil, the common man consider good.”   Meaning that our standards and interpretation are flawed and inverted.  The Five Skandhas (Five Aggregates; Form, Sensation, Perception, Mental Formation and Consciousness) as taught by the Buddha, gives rise to the ego or the “I” that we filter all of our experiences through and then judge based on this ignorance.  The Buddha taught that all this was empty and was the cause of our suffering.

When we experience our faith and practice in Buddhism, being in the Human Realm we want results to show that we have gained or loss something, this is how we can simply understand such a profound teaching.  So even though we reach for perfect enlightenment, we still judge each moment if we are on the right path with the immediate benefit to our lives.  There are many expedient teachings of the Buddha that offer benefit to the practitioner, so as to give motivation, even if it is illusionary for the time being, to move closer to the enlightened realm (See the Parable of the Magic City in the Lotus Sutra) and ultimately develop boundless compassion, where we are truly able to bow to the Buddha in ourselves as well as others (Tangyo-Raihai).

All religious systems offer benefit, that is their advertisement to the human mind that this is the best and most important investment for your future.  Only the Lotus Sutra and the example of our Founder Nichiren Shonin offer a balanced view in-line with reality to allow us to see what is the meaning of our lives is and what we should invest in.  To see this we must look at the other systems in a dualistic comparison.  Nichiren Shonin does this very well in his work of the Kaimoku-Sho, where he states the flawed and narrow views of the religious systems of the East.

As we are most familiar in the West with the forms of Salvation found in the Monotheistic God of the Bible, in the promise of eternal life and salvation in the hereafter.   Almost all teachings deal with simply the afterlife, as I like to say “Real Estate in the next world”.  This reminds me of the old adage, “Trying to sell the Brooklyn Bridge.”  You are not able to see the benefits until after your life and so therefor you must accept it by blind faith that you will receive as promised, you cannot be reassured in this life or be given actual proof.  We have similar ideas in Buddhism, such as the Pure Land practice, in which you go to meet the Buddha of the Western Pure Land Amitabha Buddha by praying to this Buddha to receive the benefit of his compassionate vows.  However, we know these to simply be expedient practices, eventually leading the person to the vow to attain Buddhahood, the true hidden core of the Eternal Buddha’s teaching.

The Lotus Sutra, is different in the fact that we are able to see the manifested benefits of our practice in this life, daily.   It also is the only teaching that can give us proper perspective into the reality of this life in order to shine the light of boundless wisdom on the suffering both in our lives as well as that of others by putting our minds into true perspective and not seeing it through only our ignorant narrow views.

In my own practice, I admit I enjoy the benefit and merits I receive, such as the calmness and improvement in my life situation.  But I always remember the teaching of my Sensei Tsukamoto Shonin in that practitioners of the Lotus Sutra will have just enough and not too much, but will find true contentment in whatever life situation they find themselves and to be able to see the truth in all challenges (Teachings) that come to them.

In Chapter 10 (The Teacher of the Dharma) in the Lotus Sutra it says of the person who read, recites and upholds this Sutra, “I will shoulder him” P.173, “Will be covered by my robe” P. 176 and “He will live with me.  I will pat him on the head”. 

This tells us that when we abide in the mind of the Buddha expressed most effectively in “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo”, the Buddha is truly guiding us and protecting us.  This I have experienced to be the way to find true happiness and contentment.

This can be further  understood to show us that when we have faith in the Lotus Sutra both the Good and Bad as we interpret them, is a path of teaching in our life, guided by the Eternal Buddha of our true minds. This means we must experience a totally different value system in our lives, based in the Lotus Sutra, letting go of the old ways and truly reestablishing our life base.  As we know the mud that the Lotus sits in provides the nutrition for it to bloom into the most beautiful and fragrant flower.  Some forms of Nichiren Buddhism speak of only the benefit.  But if we look to our Founders life, he experienced benefits in many ways including persecution.

“By giving my life for the Lotus Sutra I am able to repay the kindness of my parents and Ancestors.” 

So all that comes before a votary of the Lotus Sutra is a benefit of their practice and that we have replaced the human value system with the value system of the true hidden core of the Eternal Buddha, the Lotus Sutra.  For believers of the Louts Sutra challenges come incessantly, but the happiness ones attains is true freedom and bliss.  That is why our Founders life is so important to showing the true reality of this teaching manifested in action.

In summation if you are practicing and still suffering with challenges in your life the waves of good and bad rolling in and out, up and down, crashing on you.  I encourage you to reestablish yourself in the way of the Lotus Sutra.  Throw away all preconceptions and attachments and live your life not in the whims of the egos illusion of good and bad, but in the truth of the Eternal Buddha set forth in the Lotus Sutra, this is upholding the Lotus Sutra above all else.

As Nichiren Shonin stated, “For attaining Buddhahood quickly, one must lay down the banner of arrogance, cast away the club of prejudice, and chant “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo!”

Additionally, I offer this gem of wisdom that I keep with me in the face of all of my life challenges, in the simple statement Tsukamoto Shonin would always share with me as I would complain of my life’s ups and downs, “Enjoy Kanjin!” 

Truly the power of the Lotus Sutra is found in this simple statement!

With Gassho…

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The Daikoku Holiday Buddhist Tradition; An Alternative to Santa Claus!

daikoku1The Tradition of Daikoku Sonja For the Holidays!

Listen my children and you shall hear of the story of Daikoku the Buddhist Santa Claus… 

A long, long time ago, in a place so far away, there lived 7 gods of fortune : each has his own blessings for people, they are:

  1. Hotei, the fat and happy god of abundance and good health
  2. Jurōjin, god of longevity with a tall forehead
  3. Fukurokuju, god of happiness, wealth and longevity
  4. Bishamonten, god of warriors in fighting uniform
  5. Benzaiten(Benten-sama), goddess of knowledge, art and beauty, especially music
  6. Ebisu, god of fishers and merchants, often seen carrying

……… and finally there was Daikoku-ten, god of wealth, dressed in his red hat, carrying a large bag on his back full of goodies,  standing on two bales of rice, and holding a huge magical mallet.  When Daikoku strikes something with his magic money mallet money and toys amazingly appear.

The huge bag on his shoulders is full of presents and gifts. Long ago Daikoku would give these gifts to children on New Year’s Day … nowadays he gives his gifts on December 25th ….  just like Santa.

This is how we celebrate:

  • The kids write their wish list to Daikoku and place the lists in the family butsudan.
  • When Daikoku takes the lists he always leaves some candy.
  • On the evening of December 24, the kids leave fresh mochi cakes on the offering stand in the butsudan, light incense and then chant for Daikoku to come to their house.
  • Just like Santa, Daikoku arrives when the children are sleeping. He leaves presents from the huge bag on his back and leaves more hard candy.

Later, on New Year’s Eve, Daikoku will visit the Temple.  The kids of the Temple chant “Namu myoho renge kyo” as they beat on the hand drums called uchiwa taiko.  The drumming and chanting will guide Daikoku to the Temple and someone will upon his arrival guide him to his chair. (Sometimes Ebisu attends as well)

As each child bows in gassho and approaches, Daikoku will give him / her a special present.  When everyone has received a gift, Daikoku will present a little dharma talk encouraging the kids to be compassionate toward others and not greedy.

Then the children appreciate his kindness and again chant “ Namu Myoho Renge Kyo” as Daikoku leaves to visit another temple.  As he says goodbye he  tosses a bag of candy to each child.

This is how Buddhist’s can celebrate Daikoku-ten’s visit each year.  It has become a very wonderful and memorable tradition here at Choeizan Enkyoji Temple in Seattle. Please feel free to use this celebration in your family and temples.

With Gassho…

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Lecture on the Lotus Sutra Chapter 3 ‘A Parable’

nichiren shonin teaching cartoonLecture on the Lotus Sutra Chapter 3 ‘A Parable’. Tonight we have our monthly lecture on the Lotus Sutra.  Come and gain this invaluable experience, merit and purify yourself for the New Year in the Buddha’s Core teachings.  With Gassho…

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Has Buddhism Contributed To The Modernization of Western Religions?

Has Buddhism Contributed To The Modernization of Western Religions?.

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Has Buddhism Contributed To The Modernization of Western Religions?

nichiren shonin teaching cartoonNow back from the holiday, I hope you all had a pleasant time with family and friends.

I have noticed recently as I take a few moments to listen to what Christianity and other teachings have adopted and changed in the modern era and am actually happy with the changes.   Participating in Interspiritual events, I have been able to even realized the changes in vocabulary used by Western religious groups.

I remember 15 years ago that the catholic church would not use such words as enlightenment, meditation, and compassion, because they were seen to be used exclusively by Eastern faiths.  Especially, as I watch or read teachings from the more happy and positive preachers such as Joel Osteen, I am almost blown away about his approach toward the meaning of life, which is a very different feeling then what I have seen in the past and feels as a pronounced move towards the Buddhist way.

I have been rereading in my daily study, Nichiren Shonin’s Kaimoku-Sho (Open Your Eyes).   Nichiren Shonin speaks directly about this happening during the time of the Buddha.  “For instance, non-Buddhists teachings in India before the time of the Buddha were shallow in theology.  After the Buddha, however, they seemed to realize their own shortcomings as they learned from Buddhism and cunningly stole Buddhist concepts to make their own heretical teaching more sophisticated.” P.35 WNS Doc.2  He also speaks of the same thing happening in China.  “Confucian and Taoist scholars before Buddhism was introduced to China had been as simple and immature as infants…  Some Buddhist monks simply adopted Buddhist teachings into Confucianism and Taoism in collaboration with secular men.”  P.35 WNS Doc. 2  I see this happening in the secular world with the business mindfulness movement and all throughout our culture.

I do not feel that this is plagiarism if correct acknowledgement is given, but they may be too shy to do that.  In the same document, second line after Nichiren Shonin admonishes us to respect the three; ruler, teacher, and parents.  It states, “Everyone should study these three disciplines: Confucianism, non-Buddhist teachings and Buddhism.  P.30 WNS Doc.2

In seeing or studying all three, we are able to see the natural progression towards the teachings of the Buddha, even amongst seemingly contradictory theology’s.  Perhaps they will merge one day into the One Vehicle as expounded in chapter 2 of the Lotus Sutra.  I see this as further proof of the profound teaching of Ichinen Sanzen, that even the six unenlightened realms contain the Buddha.  Thus proving the existence of the Buddha realm and allowing us to develop deep faith and moving us forward towards our birthright.

I feel filled with joy each moment that I was able to meet the profound teaching of the Lotus Sutra.  Truly, such a rare gem amongst dull stones is a rare find.

I see the dull capacities of people, despite the technological advancements, to be so blind that this teaching has been made available within their grasp, but instead they turn to childish distractions such as sports events over spiritual cultivation.  However, every practice and chanting session at our Temple.  I am deeply moved by the great resolve and faith of the Bodhisattvas from underground that participate together with me in the great ceremony in the air.  Truly their merit is great!

With Gassho…

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A Deep Awakening! Seeing the Buddha, at last!…


cartoon Nichiren Shonin study

Now to take a break from the usual thread, I wanted to share my personal awakening experience.  I experienced deep insight into a teaching given by my teacher to “See the Buddha!”  Chapter 16; “If they respect me, believe me, and wish to see me.”

In my personal practice, I have dedicated myself to in addition to my personal practice to read everyday the Lotus Sutra highlighted chapters (Yohon) and our Founders Nichiren Shonin’s writings.

I, perhaps like most people, did not understand this cryptic concept of “Seeing the Buddha!”  Thinking will he magically appear before me.  Well that is what happened!

During my daily reading, I began reading  “Nyorai metsugo go-hyaku-sai shi kanjin honzon-sho” (A Treatise Revealing the Spirtual Contemplation and the Most Venerable One for the First Time in the Fifth 500-year Period after the Death of Shakyamuni Buddha) or just known as Kanjin Honzon Sho. 

Previously being a monk, I read a wide variety of Sutra’s that all claim to be superior and teach the Truth.  When I became a Nichiren Buddhist, the Lotus Sutra baffled me.  It was like no other sutra.  Basically, because it spoke of faith instead of a method to find enlightenment.

In reading the Kanjin Honzon-Sho, Nichiren Shonin stated, “As we often look at each other’s faces, we notice our facial expression changes from time to time.  It is full of delight, anger, or calm sometimes; but other times it changes to greed, ignorance, or flattery.  Anger represents hells; greed-hungry spirits; ignorance-beasts; flattery-asura demons; delight- gods; and calm-men.  Thus we see in the countenance of people the six realms of illusion, from hells to the realm of gods.  We cannot see four realms of holy ones (sravaka, pratyekabuddha, bodhisattvas, and Buddhas), which are hidden from our eyes.  Nevertheless, we must be able to see them, too, if we look for them carefully.”

In this simple but profound statement, I realized what realms I could see exist in my mind as well as others.  He further states about two holy realms of sravaka and pratyekabuddha.  “We see the so-called principle of impermanence everywhere in front of our eyes.  We humans understand this principle, through through…Two vehicles called sravaka and pratyekabuddha try to obtain enlightenment (Arhatship).”  Having in my own practice experienced insight into the teaching of emptiness and seeing impermanence through my previous practices, I have seen that these realms truly exist within the realm of men.

He further goes on to state that, “A man, no matter how inconsiderate he may be, loves his wife and children.  It shows that he is partly in the Bodhisattva realm.”  In this I have experienced this as well in my mission and vow to being a priest .

If so, once the realization, that I have seen and experienced these realms.  “The only realm contained in the realm of men and yet hard to see is that of the Buddha’s.”

I realized in my mind and heart, without doubt that the realm of Buddha’s exist and that when we study the Mahayana teachings we develop the Buddha-eye and are able to see the Buddha in our hearts as well as that of others, flowing our Lotus of faith.  This is the first step in practicing Buddhism, that of Bodhicitta (Aspiring to Enlightenment).  We must see this and find faith in our hearts and minds before we can lift ourselves up to actualize and see the Buddha realm manifesting it in our lives and realizing that the teaching of Ichinen Sanzen is the map to realizing this faith.

To sum this all up!  “The reason why we, ordinary people, born in the Latter Age, can put faith in the Lotus Sutra is that the realm of Buddha’s is included in the realm of human beings.”  There is no need to rely on anything else, just to chant the heart and mind of the Buddha, Namu Myoho Renge Kyo!

Once we are convinced and believe this, we are truly able to realize that the highest teaching to lead us to enlightenment is the Lotus Sutra and that the true object that actualizes this, manifested in our world is the correct object of veneration, the Mandala Gohonzon.  When chanting from this state, I was indeed able to have faith in and see the Buddha, causing the light of the Buddha to illuminate all the lower realms and thus I saw the Buddha in my own mind and from there I chant the Sacred Title!  Honor be to Myoho Renge Kyo!

With Gassho…

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