Shin Buddhism or Jodo Shinshu practitioners focus on a life of appreciation and gratitude. Our practice is saying the Nembutsu (the name of Amida Buddha) in gratitude for the oneness and great compassion that we have been born into.
1. When are weekly services held?
On Sundays except as noted below for Buddhist Observances and Monthly Memorial ("Shotsuki" Services, at 10:30am, a brief service is held usually followed by Dharma School for children and teens and Dharma Discussion for Adults. The Dharma Discussions are a great way to "toe in" to buddhism in an informal environment.
Dharma Circle services are held at 7:00pm the first and third Wednesday of every month. Please check our calendar. This includes a guided meditation, chanting and dharma discussion. Social Hall doors open at 6:50pm. There is a chance to engage sangha members in informal discussions before, during and after the Circle.
2. When are the dates of Buddhist Observances and Monthly Memorial Services(Shotsuki)?
In addition to hearing the Dharma talk, Monthly Memorial Services are an opportunity for each of us to honour our parents, relatives and freinds who have passed on before us. We usually celebrate on the anniversary month of someone's passing. If they were buddhist, they will have a buddhist name and the family will bring this to place on the stand before the service (and collect after offering incense at the end of the service). For those non-buddhist being honoured, we can bring a memorial item and place that on the stand in the same way.
Buddhist Observances are special anniversary dates observed by Jodo Shinshu followers. Oftentimes, these as well as Monthly Memorials are followed by a meal served by temple toban (volunteers). Please check the calendar for current dates:
Shusho-e (New Year’s Day) [January 1st]
Ho-on-ko (Shinran Shonin Memorial Day) [January 16th]
Hoonko is celebrated in memory of Shinran Shonin (May 21, 1173 – January 16, 1262), the founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.
Nehan-e (Nirvana Day)
Nehan-e is the day when Buddhists observe the passing of Shakyamuni Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism) into Pari-nirvana (*complete enlightenment?)
Higan-e (Spring Equinox, “The Other Shore”, Enlightenment)
Higan-e is a service conducted around the spring equinox, when harmony rules throughout the universe. We gather before the shrine of Amida Buddha to devote ourselves to the realization of this harmony in our inner lives.
It is a moment of reflection and thanksgiving to our ancestors. The word "higan" comes from the Sanskrit word "Paramita" which expresses the idea that the Buddha guides people from this worldly shore to the other shore of the Pure Land.
In Japan, special services are conducted for a period of one week during the equinox to pay respect to their ancestors just as they do during Obon. Ohigan is referred in Japanese as "San Butsu E" or "Gathering to Praise the Buddha."
The Ohigan service is devoted to expressing our gratitude for being awakened to Amida's Infinite Wisdom and Compassion, thus, directing Amida's Wisdom and Compassion to other sentient beings and other living things.
Hanamatsuri (Buddha Day)
Hanamatsuri is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Siddhartha Gautama in Lumbini Garden. During the service, Hanamido (a flower shrine) is set up in front of the main shrine as a symbol of Lunbini Garden where the sangha offers flowers and pours sweet tea over the image of the infant Buddha.
Gotan-e (Shinran Shonin Day)
Gotan-e celebrates the birthday of the founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, Shinran Shonin (born May 21, 1173). He experienced many hardships and suffering during his life which led his path to enlightenment.
Obon & Bon-Odori Festival [July – August]
Obon (or just “Bon”) is often referred to as “Gathering of Joy” and is a time to celebrate the Bon-Odori Festival, which traditionally includes dancing. Originating in Japan, Obon is a Buddhist memorial period for rejoicing in the enlightenment offered by the Buddha (to honour our ancestors).
Higan-e (Fall Equinox, “The Other Shore”, Enlightenment) [September 23rd]
Higan-e, also celebrated in the spring, celebrates the Autumn Equinox to recall the practices of Six Paramita (Giving, Discipline, Patience, Endeavour, Meditation and Wisdom).
Jodo Shinshu Day
Jodo Shinshu Day marks the day that Jodo Shinshu Buddhism was officially introduced in Canada. On October 12, 1905, Senju Sasaki sensei arrived in Vancouver from Nishi Hongwanji, Kyoto, Japan to serve as the first Jodo Shinshu (minister/teacher) in Japan. The light of Nembutsu has been carried on by its members of Sangha as the guiding light in life since then.
Eshinni Day celebrates and honours the women in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. Eshinni was Shinran Shonin's wife and an independent woman who supported Shinran both financially and materially. Eshinni is also sometimes regarded as the "Mother" of Jodo Shinshu. (?)
Jodo-e (Bodhi Day)
Jodo-e celebrates the day that Siddhartha Gautama meditated under the Bodhi Tree (Tree of Enlightenment) and became Shakymuni Buddha, perfect in Wisdom and Compassion.
Joya-e (New Year’s Eve) [December 31st]January 1st
3. How can I help at the Temple?
The temple has a Toban system of volunteering where all members and friends join one of 7 informal Toban groups. Each Toban takes its 2 month turn in rotation being responsible for all the Shotsuki (Monthly Memorial) and Buddhist Observance meals as well as assisting during any funerals/memorials that occur during their 2 month turn. You don't have to belong to a Toban to help out. We need lots of help on Manju Making days, Spring and Fall Bazaar and during the Powell Street Festival.
Your financial support is always welcome. People can use the donation envelopes provided at each weekly or monthly service and will be provided tax receipts as appropriate.
4. What makes Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples different?
In North America, the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples offer excellent access to English speaking reverends (sensei), scholar works, dharma activities and community. Periodically, we bring in lecturers from all over North America, Hawaii and Japan to share the dharma.
Shin Buddhism, as our tradition is also known, is a path to spiritual awakening for lay people. It shows its depth when you need it and it is never in the way when you think you don't.
Our focus is on the three Pureland Sutras: The Larger Sutra on Amitayus, The Contemplation Sutra on Amitayus, The Smaller Sutra on Amitayus which together point to a practice of gratitude. Come as you are and experience Living in the Dharma.