…A dancing fool and a watching fool,
Since they are both fools,
What a waste not to dance.
From the song Awa Odori, The Dance of Fools.
San Luis Obispo Buddhist Temple
6996 Ontario Rd., San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
(805) 595-2625
Resident Minister: Rev. Naomi Seijo Nakano
email: minister@slobuddhisttemple.com

In spoken Japanese, the word for ‘thank you’ is Arigato Gozaimasu”. However the written Kanji character is very different from the translation, as we know it. The character has two parts; the first character has two pronunciations, ari or yuu, which means to have or to possess. The upper character represents a person’s hand and the character below it represents a slice of meat. The first character (ari) means a person’s hand holding or having the sliced meat.

The second character gato or nan means difficult or suffering. The character consists of three parts; top left side represents grass and the character just below it represents fire flames in a field. The translation then means the grass on the field burns and becomes red like clay or soil. Just right of this character is the character that represents a small bird running around. Together, both clay or soil and bird are difficult to control.

Putting the character ari and gato together we get “thank you.” It seems difficult to get such a meaning from characters that have a bird, hand, fields and meat involved. However it is not the representation of characters that truly matter but our thankfulness and gratitude. We share our Namu Amida Butsu with thankfulness and gratitude to the living and those who have passed from this earthly realm. Their contributions have helped shape our personality, awakened us to happiness and joy of life. Even though life can throw us curve balls sometimes, we are able to find our way. They have also opened our ears to hearing the teachings of Amida Buddha today and every day.

We share our Nembutsu in observance of the most joyous memorials. This gathering is called Obon, or Kangi-E (joyous gathering) or Urabon-E (ulambana-gathering). This observance is in gratitude to those who have passed from this earthly realm since our last Obon and to our ancestors who have done so much for the temple, as well for us.

Many were forced to surrender land, property and humility to prove their loyalty. Yet they bounced back and made our lives easier so that we would not struggle as they had. They picked up the pieces to rebuild the temple and it is during this Kanji-E, we remember their contributions, We also honor our deceased friends, no matter of our relationship to them for they have influenced and made us aware of our own ego-attachments.

We also share our appreciation to those who shielded us from harm and danger. We do this by dancing in their honor. It is a time when we can forget our ego. We forget our attachments to what we dance like or what we look like. It is a time to remember our indebtedness to those who allowed us to live a live of gratitude and thankfulness. We live every day in joy and gratitude. We share our thanks to our loved ones by dancing and sharing Namu Amida Butsu. Let us leave our egos at home and dance in honor and respect.

Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano
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Obon Information
August 2, 2014
SLO Buddhist Temple Obon
@ St. Patrick's School, AG
Bon Odori practice