This coming weekend we are celebrating the Upavastha, our Full Moon event when we reflect upon the past and make resolutions for the future. This particular weekend we are also celebrating the memories of people who have been important to our Sangha in the past, in particular three who have made a significant impact:
Firstly, there is Gyomay Kubose. Gyomay Kubose was the first patron of Amida Trust. At a time when it was very valuable to us particularly to have support and affirmation from somebody significant in the Buddhist world. Gyomay Kubose gave us his blessing. Gyomay had a remarkable personality. He had been a leader of the Japanese community in America through the for them very difficult period during the Second World War. Many Japanese people in America were interned in concentration camps during the war and they were displaced. They had mostly lived on the West coast, but the West coast was the coast facing Japan; America was concerned that there might be an invasion. So, they were all moved to the mid-west and Gyomay Kubose found himself in Chicago. In the years after the war, it was still very difficult for these people, but they established a Shin Buddhist Church in Chicago and it was there that I encountered him, a remarkable elderly gentleman with very strong views about Pureland Buddhism and its place in the community.
Then we have a second person of Japanese origin, Gisho Saiko. Reverend Gisho Saiko, Saiko Sensei, hosted me in Japan in 2004, the year in which he died. Some people said that he had been enthusiastically looking forward to the visit and that he had stayed alive a few extra months in order to look after me and my wife at that time, a very touching and noble gesture. Gisho Saiko had written a number of books, sometimes citing my works, advocating what he called “Shinshu Counselling”. This was a way of bringing Pureland Buddhism and therapy together. He had the notion that the counsellor is supported by Amida, and so the work is supported by Amida, and so the client will in due course be supported by Amida. He could expound on this theory very eloquently and had a group of Japanese people who followed him. He was very keen to impress on me that I should bring the Pureland message and Buddhist psychology to the West. So, this was a responsibility that he passed to me.
Then thirdly, we remember Amrita Dhammika who was a member of the Amida Order. In the early days of the Amida Sangha we were very much involved in social action and one of these actions was to send people to Zambia, where there was an epidemic of AIDS and people there were afflicted by many other tropical diseases. Amrita worked tirelessly, heroically in a little village in the remote countryside, bringing medicine and help to people in this afflicted state, and, in fact died at the age of 50 while on active service out there. So, she is one of our saints.
So, at this time at this weekend, we shall be remembering these three people in particular, whose anniversaries fall around this date. The Upavastha is an important time for such memory, such inspiration, and we shall all take it to heart.
Thank you very much
Namo Amida Bu