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Dharma talk of His Eminence - Hosshu Koken Otani Samma

posted Jul 25, 2015, 3:33 PM by Reno Budd   [ updated Jul 25, 2015, 3:34 PM ]

Dharma talk at RBC on 27jun15

Hello, everyone!

It is my great pleasure to have an opportunity to give a greeting to address the members of Reno Buddhist Church today.

Last March, about 10 members of RBC came to our Head Temple at Asakusa, Tokyo and four of them took part in the Lay Ordination Ceremony in order to become Buddhist followers.   Two others, Mr. Matthew and Mrs. Shelley Fisher, had the Ordination Ceremony to become Buddhist priests by taking refuge in the Three Treasures: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

Five years have passed since Dr. Matsunaga returned to the Pure Land. He was the founder of RBC, and also President of International Buddhist Center at Higashi Honganji Temple.

“Lay Ordination” in Shin Buddhism means to become a disciple of the Buddha.  In the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, when taking lay ordination, people took refuge in the Three Treasures - Buddha, Dharma and Sangha -, and were given five sila (precepts).

Sila generally means “precepts” or “regulations” in the Sangha, and also includes personal vows for attaining Enlightenment.

In the case of Shuddhipunthaka, a disciple who was not considered wise, his personal vow was to observe a precept to clean up the garden, telling himself, “clean up your mind!”

He repeated this training for a long time and finally attained Enlightenment.










To be a disciple of the Buddha is immeasurably profound.

An ancient sutra for taking refuge in the Three Treasures tells us it is not easy to be born as a human. In ancient India, people believed that people were reincarnated or transmigrated, repeating births as an insect, as an animal or as a human being.

Shakyamuni taught the six realms of existence: the worlds of hellish beings, hungry ghosts, fighting demons, human beings and heavenly beings.

But Shakyamuni Buddha preached that even the heavenly beings (devas) have sufferings. Of course human beings have a lot of sufferings

And living a good, virtuous life meant receiving a better life in the next one.

So, to be born as a human is a very rare opportunity.

To become a disciple of the Buddha, or a Buddhist follower, is said in sutras to be much harder than to be born as a human being in the first place.

This ancient sutra for taking refuge in the Three Treasures seems very important even for modern people.

It is still true that human life is full of sufferings.

In the early stage of Shakyamuni Buddha’s life, what was meant by Enlightenment was nothing but liberation from suffering.

Mahayana Buddhism, which pureland Buddhism belongs to, originally meant “Great Vehicle”, a teaching by which to be able to save all sentient beings.

Mahayana has been considered to be taught by Shakyamuni in the latter half of his life.

Shakyamuni was very successful in teaching people while he was alive.

And the essence and the spirituality of his teaching continued to live and work, and later developed into Mahayana Buddhism movement.










In Mahayana Buddhism, one of the most prominent teachings is Shin Buddhism, one of the Pure Land schools.

It is believed in Shin Buddhism that Shakyamuni Buddha’s life was ultimately in order to teach Pure Land Buddhism.



In the 5th century, the famous Buddhist priest called Vasbandhu appeared in Indea. Vasbandhu is one of the seven patriarchs Shinran Shonin admired as the most important in the history of Pure Land Buddhism.

His understanding of Buddhism is intriguing, indeed. According to his teaching,

the world that one sees as real is a manifestation of one’s mind or consciousness.



Human beings are always thinking something. According to Vasbandhu’s Buddhist philosophy, this act of thinking is like planting seeds somewhere in the three thousand great worlds, a very large spiritual universe described in Buddhist scriptures.


Planted seeds grow, being watered and nourished. Then they come to bloom and bear fruits. All that we can feel by our sense organs are the phenomena that have appeared by taking form.



In this world, so many things occur.  However, they are all the result of human thoughts in the past or present time, manifestations of our spiritual world.



Usually we don’t see seeds or kernels, but can clearly see flowers and fruits.

At the very end we can only taste fruits on our dining table.


We usually do not know what kinds of seeds were planted.


Similarly, we don’t know what we have thought or are now thinking


That is why Shinran Shonin called us ordinary people, meaning the ignorant or unenlightened


Usually we are surprised to come to know the final taste of the fruits.

There are good fruits and bad ones.

This process is called “the karmic law of cause and effect.”

some modern thinkers called this law of cause and effect, the rule of mirror, as a result always reflects its cause like a mirror.



Therefore, we should look at ourselves and change time to time, just as we do so with our appearances.



Erwin Schrodinger, a famous physicist and the founder of quantum physics, says

that the image of the world is nothing but one’s ego.


「世界描像とは自我そのものなのである」(精神と物質 mind and matter 4章 冒頭)と、語っていますが、まさに、これは、仏教の種子から世界が生まれるという考え方である。

He is known as studying the ancient Indian philosophy. His understanding of the world is quite similar to the Buddhist view, which I just described


We should plant good seeds and at the same time should not forget the fact that Amida Buddha is always working to save us.


Thus, Shinran Shonin says that we should entrust ourselves to the grand vessel of Amida’s Vow to carry us all to the other shore, the Pure Land. This is the mind of taking refuge in Amida Buddha.



When we take refuge in the Buddha, it will naturally be accompanied by sincere gratitude to him for what he has done for us.

What is important for us is to take refuge in the Buddha and thank him for all that he has done for us. All this means planting good seeds.






Vasbandhu declared,

“Buddha, without any hesitation, with pure concentration, I take refuge in Amida Buddha and entrust myself to his wish for us to be born in the Pure Land.”


Please entrust yourself to Amida Buddha’s great wish for us to be born in the Pure Land.

And always try to plant good seeds, good seeds for pure faith.



Seeds will definitely produce good fruits someday in future.


It is important fro us to believe this Buddhist truth.


This is called the law of causality or, more in detail, the karmic law of cause and effect.


Another aspect of the Buddhist truth is described as the Dharma of interdependent origination.


Please live your life, with pure faith in Dharma, and with sincere gratitude to Amida Buddha, because Amida save us all without any discrimination.

I hope you may have a good fruit, whether in this life or next life.


Thank you very much.