Obon at the Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple

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The Rubber Ducky Buddha of Joliet and the Eternal Fishnu enjoying the 2019 Obon Festivities hosted by the Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple.

Mrs. Hanamoku and I attended the Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple’s Obon Celebration for 2019 yesterday afternoon. It’s one of the highlights of the year for us because we can eat a wonderful bento – as good was what we’re used having grown up in Hawaii.

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This is the best bento East of Hawaii!!! onigiri, inari, shoyu chicken, tamagoyaki, namasu!

OK, OK … I confess. I had two of these in one sitting! Gluttony. That’s forgivable, though. It’s natural to gorge ourselves on seasonal items while it’s there because it won’t be there for another year … as opposed to gorging on Big Macs which we can get at any time. Yes, I will keep telling myself that … hahaha.

We had these perfectly made “mochi-balls” for desert. Although this person sharing our table thought that rice, beans, and sesame seeds “sounds disgusting”.

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Perfect mochi-balls.

However, we’re not otherwise very into the obon festivities itself. Neither of us get down with the odori, but do enjoy the taiko drums and on some years a martial arts exhibition. But I can do a good impersonation of my grandfather belting out “Tanko Bushi” – I never appreciated that he was quite a good singer in that style.

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This obutsudan is being donated to the local museum.

We did sign up to “adopt” an obutsudan in need of a home. We signed up for one last year, but they were all quickly taken by congregation members. Obutsudan really are treasures. They were the spiritual center, mini temples, at Buddhist family homes. For the modern tastes and sensibilities, though, these old obutsudans don’t quite fit in. If we were chosen to adopt the obutsudan, it will be considered the spiritual center of our home as well.

An interesting although trivial point though, is that the Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple belongs to what is known as the “Pure Land” sect of Buddhism. I’ve written that I grew up as a Shingon Buddhist, known as Esoteric Buddhism. But it dawned on me yesterday that that isn’t exactly true.

My mother’s side of the family were Shingon Buddhists. In fact, during my youth, the extended family of my mother’s side dominated the congregation of the Haleiwa Shingon Mission. My father’s side of the family attended the Honpa Hongwanji, a beautiful temple off Pali Hwy in Honolulu. But I ended up regularly attending “Sunday School” with my mother’s side of the family at the Shingon mission.

I believe the only times I’d been to the Honpa Hongwanji was for weddings and funerals on my father’s side of the family. However, when we stayed over at my paternal grandmother’s house, at each of those many stay-overs, we prayed at her obutsudan before going to bed. She taught us to repeat a few times what phonetically sounded like “Namman dao-tsu”, but I recently learned is probably “Namu Amida Butsu”.

Recently, while browsing through the Internet, I learned that the Honpa Hongwanji is indeed Pure Land Buddhism – like the Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple. Not once had I heard that term growing up. All I knew of Buddhism back then, from either sect ,were non-English prayers and chants – completely meaningless to my monolingual brain (pidgin doesn’t count … hahaha).

So I do have a heritage in Pure Land Buddhism. This doesn’t matter at all really. But somehow this genuine heritage helps me to feel we can offer the obutsudan a genuine “home”.

Mrs. Hanamoku and I refer to ourselves just as Buddhists. In Buddhism, there is a recognition that the world is so rich and complex that we really need lifetimes to see everything from every angle. No matter how much we know, it’s like how a huge number like a billion is virtually zero compared to the number of atoms in the Universe. The reality is that we don’t even have to try to have a beginner’s mind – what we know in our human brain is virtually nothing already.

Each sect of Buddhism, and we believe that includes ALL spiritual teachings out there, is well expressed by a saying I learned from a dear Bahai friend: “The same light, but a different lamp”. For this moment in space and time, we happen to explore the insights from the Zen point of view; for me, particularly as taught to me first-hand by the Eternal Fishnu.

 

Magic Plant Season 2019

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The Rubber Ducky Buddha of Joliet posing with the first Magic Plant bloom of 2019!

This morning Mrs. Hanamoku discovered that the first Magic Plant Flower of 2019 bloomed!

We’ve had Magic Plant since March 2005. It has provided us with these incredible blooms every Spring.

Mrs. Hanamoku and I found Magic Plant back in 2005 when we lived in Redwood City, CA. We found Magic Plant on a walk, tossed on the side like trash, no pot, eaten up by snails. Mrs. Hanamoku took it home with us and I lovingly planted it in a pot.

A few months later, a little red dot appeared. We watched it for a few weeks grow into some big bud. You can see what the buds look like in the photo above.

Then one night, Mrs. Hanamoku had a thought that this is some sort of night-blooming cereus, similar to the ones we know well growing on lava rocks in Hawaii. Sure enough, there it was, at least six inches across, as showy a shade of red/purple/orange as can be imagined. We were so thrilled. We never saw such a flower.

The next year, Magic Plant has 23 blossoms! I suppose since we enjoyed just that one so much.

Even though the individual blooms last only about two days, Magic Plant does continue blooming for almost two weeks. The Rubber Ducky Buddha of Joliet says that this period is a blessed time. A time to meditate on the gratitude of an abandoned, snail-eaten, pot-less plant that found a home.

Buddha Christmas Cookie 2018

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Reverend Dukkha Hanamoku’s Buddha Christmas Cookie for 2018.

Hello Everyone,

Here are my Buddha Christmas cookie for 2018.

The triangular design towards the bottom of the Buddha above is my not so good attempt at a Fano Plane. Just above the 2018 is Venus. I think I at least got the saffron color of the robe pretty close.

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Seven Bodhisattvas. Mrs. Hanamoku and I split one for each of the seven days prior to Christmas.

The yellow one at about “3:30” could be a bunny faced upwards. But I like to think of it more as a duckling – see the beak on the upper-right and with at the upper-left.

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This is a huge dorje cookie. Notice the enso with Venus inside. The pi symbolizes relationships hidden in the enso.

 

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Group photo of all the Buddha Christmas cookies for 2018.

 

Merry Christmas,

Reverend Dukkha Hanamoku