These days, the air is full of music, images, even 3-D movies that create our world. Such media are stimulating to people. But I heard some psychiatrists say that modern people living this busy and noisy life are losing it. They are losing patience and are becoming more vulnerable now than ever before. The reason is that we are receiving too much stimulation, too much information,too much noise. We need the peace and quiet that our temple offers.
Maybe you prefer to have a casual and friendly atmosphere. But in our life, there are times when we stand before something greater than ourselves, something infinite. At those times we stand in quiet awe before the sacred and the holy. The very quiet feeling it brings is not something we can create. We can only sit by and observe it. It is very simple and quiet. So when we are here in the temple, we want to try to calm down and reset our mind to the simple quiet mode. These quiet rituals are meant to refresh ourselves. You might call them a form of quiet meditation.
There was a Japanese comedy show called “Frankly speaking about temple life” in Japan. About 12 ministers were featured along with a group of comedians. In the show, there were some videos on temple life or Japanese history. And the ministers gave some comments. The ministers were from all denominations of Buddhism. My friend was among them.
Shin Buddhism is very different from the image, which ordinary people have of it. I often tell people that “Shin Buddhism is different from other forms of Buddhism. Other forms of Japanese Buddhism is blah blah blah ..but, Shin Buddhism is blah blah blah ..” So I thought the different ministers might affirm my assumption and have different explanations about Buddhism, because they come from different teachings. But to my surprise I found that the basic teaching is the same. To live simply rather than have desires, to know that everything is changing, to appreciate our life because we are supported by countless people and things. To respect something greater than ourselves, to stand in quiet awe before the infinite.
And so Japanese Buddhist teachings used to look quite different to me. After all there are very big differences among them. But now I see it is only our points of emphasis and choice of words that are different. Our original teaching is the basically the same.
I think all of Japanese Buddhism, as well as other religions, is useful for our daily life. We enter the temple grounds to attend the services leaving our busy and noisy world behind. As we sit through the services we can quietly reflect on our lives. As we stand in awe before the infinite we receive the power to live and are refreshed again for whatever tomorrow brings.
So everyone please come to our Sunday service to put aside your busy minds and feel the quiet atmosphere here.