At the recent- Pre-tokudo Workshop held at our Vancouver temple, six worthy candidates, from across Canada attended. On the recommendation of their resident ministers, they came from Waterloo, Toronto, Calgary, Berkeley California and Vancouver for three days of study.. They learned many time-honoured Buddhist rituals, standards of conduct, chanted sutras, shared Dharma experiences and joined in the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Hoonko services. All the participants are deeply committed individuals who have found the Teachings to resonate with their search for meaning in their lives. In the not too distant future it is their intention to complete their Tokudo ordination at Nishi Hongwanji in Kyoto.
The Hoonko service at our temple was conducted in a musical form which was patterned after the Hongwanji special service to commemorate the 750th year since Shinran’s passing on January 16, 1263. From April, 2011 special services at Nishi Hongwanji have been conducted throughout the year culminating with the Hoonko service at Hongwanji in January, 2012.
On our naijin (alter) we have many beautiful ornaments. At the focal point in the center of the shrine is the statue of Amida Buddha. Rennyo Shonin, the eighth Monshu of Nishi Hongwanji preferred the scroll of the Name followed by the painting of Amida Buddha and least preferred was the physical statue. According to Dr. Ken Tanaka, Amida is not a divine being, but rather a symbol of understanding and caring. It is important to remind ourselves that we are liberated through Amida . Otherwise, we may wrongly, ‘worship’ Amida Buddha. as some supernatural object or being.
The above-mentioned Name is Namo Amida Butsu , also known as Nembutsu. When Namo- Amida-Butsu is uttered, it is our expression of heartfelt gratitude and joy. Saying the Nembusu is not a practice nor a good act that helps us to reach enlightenment . Namo is me, the seeker, becoming one with Amida Butsu (Buddha). Thus, we naturally clasp our hands in Gassho, the left hand is me, becoming One with the right hand, which is Amida.
In the Jodo Shinshu tradition, Amida Buddha is experienced through the sound which is the Name, Namo Amida Butsu. Shinran said, as an ordinary being without meditative visualization skills, we are able to become one with Amida by saying his Name. Shinran further teaches that the saying of the Nembutsu is none other than the name (Amida’s calling voice) working in people and awakening shinjin in them. Thus, our practice is simply clasping our hands in Gassho and saying Namo Amida Butsu in gratitude.