Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Thought for Lent

For those who count on tomorrow
as for the fragile cherry blossom
tonight unexpected winds may blow.
Shinran Shoran

Shinran was a Buddhist Reformer of 13th century Japan. He thought that everyone ought to be able to access Enlightenment without the mediation of priests and monks. This is called True Pure Land Buddhism.

The statue of him to the right is in New York City on Riverside Drive north of 105th. What makes this statue awesome beyond its artistic value is the fact that it stood 1 mile from ground zero in Hiroshima. It was brought to New York in 1955.

I attended worship twice at the Jodo Shinshu temple in Sebastopol, CA when I lived near there ten years ago. Information about the temple and the Amida Buddhism it represents is found here. The temple was given to the congregation in Sonoma County by the Manchurian Railway Co. of Japan, which had it shipped from Chicago, where it had been the Japanese pavilion at the 1933 World's Fair. (!) Imagine the global politics involved in this since at the time the Japanese were raping China and Manchuria....

During WWII the temple was closed while its members were sent to internment camps. Young people in the area stood guard when there were threats to burn it down. A documentary was made about the temple and the young whites, called Leap of Faith: How Enmanji Temple Was Saved.

Count the unexpected winds that blew in this story.

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