Transform burdens into a source of love and wisdom.
There is a spiritual community
designed for the 21st century.
What CanYou Expect?
the ancient Mahayana tradition, our Sunday gatherings focus on Shin spirituality, offering opportunities to cultivate
an open heart, trust and presence.
Being a circle
of equals is a unique feature of our path. We don't have hierarchies such as gurus and priest, though we do have certified
and highly experienced dharma teachers to facilitate the gathering. As practitioners of the original Shin path, we stress
an egalitarian and democratic community and attitude. We call each other friends (kalyana-mitra), dress casually, and
are very welcoming.
Our two hour
gathering is akin to the early Shin Buddhist dojo or training center where we train for 2 hours so that we may better practice
throughout the week in our often hectic lives. In our gatherings, we practice a variety of practical spiritual "tools" to
help us awaken to our endowed inner potential of compassion and wisdom. These tools include deep hearing, Zen and voice
meditation, prayer and the voicing of the Nembutsu-Namu-Amida-Butsu as an expression of our trust in and gratitude for the
ultimate Oneness of life, symbolized as Amida Buddha.
Instead of sermons,
our spiritual community is known for its insightful and lively dharma discussions. As our founder, the 13th century Japanese
reformer, Shinran Shonin, taught, "We are all fellow travelers on the path," and, as such, anyone may share his/her opinion
and experience. Learning from one another in this fashion creates a strong, nourishing environment. We care for and love one
another and live in service to the world.
Though our gatherings
skillfully reflect 21st century American culture, every week, we make available the time-honored Buddhist teachings and practices,
which help us to discover life’s purpose and to unfold joy, gratitude, and peace in a community setting. Come and
visit us and find out for yourself.
Our weekly Sunday program is designed to
help you cultivate peace and compassion, and touch the Oneness of Reality through a variety of skillful techniques, such as
ritual, remembrance, voice, sitting and walking meditation, discussion and fellowship with like minded people. Each week,
our gathering format offers participants a variety of practical spiritual "tools" that cultivate such positive qualities like
an open heart and presence. With diligent daily practice, these useful teachings and spiritual tools will
transform confusion and suffering into peace and liberation.
Many people ask us if we worship Amida
Buddha during the gathering. For us, Amida is not a God but a living symbol of our true nature, the boundless life
and light, which is beyond any notion of any notion, concept or god. We do not worship any supernatural being
or practice any form of idolatry for that would be considered an erroneous understanding of the Mahayana Buddhist
Instead, the gathering focuses on the practice
or inner cultivation of inner listening, awareness, compassion and wisdom through the power of the Buddhist teachings and
the nembutsu. The two hour gathering is akin to the early Shin Buddhist dojo or training center. We train for 2 hours so that
we may be inspired to better practice throughout the week. Below is an example
of our weekly Sunday morning program:
I. OPENING THE DHARMA
(Ritual and remembrance of the Sacred Oneness within us and the teachings) (12 minutes)
Candle lighting (represents the light of
wisdom entering the world of delusion)
Going For Refuge (Taking refuge in
the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha which represents our commitment to practice & our highest spiritual values)
Shin Buddhist Affirmation ( a reminder of
our daily practice)
II. MEDITATION TRAINING
(emphasizing meditative awareness & wisdom)
Voice Meditation by chanting one syllable
at a time Om Mani Padme Hum (the prayer of compassion) or Om AmidevaHrih (the prayer of eternal life). The chants help us settle
the mind before sitting and walkingmeditation:
Zazen(quieting sitting meditation)
III. SHIN TRAINING
(emphasizing wisdom, faith, ethics & compassion)
(70 minutes +)
Prayer Practice:Metta-Karuna, Amida's Chain,The Four Immeasurable, etc.
Voice Meditation with the Juseige, Junirai or
Shoshinge in Sino-Japanese and together with Incense Offering.These simple Shin chants help us experience as the sacred call of Amida that seeks to awaken us from delusion
and forgetfulness. During this chanting practice, many participants are moved to practicing Touching the Earth (mindfulness
bowing at the altar) and Incense Offering to the Nembutsu Scroll, as a heartfelt affirmation of one’s thankfulness to
the Buddha and existential affirmation of the nature of interdependence and impermanence.
The Nembutsu Chant (this spiritual mantra-like
Shin chant is viewed as the personal calling the inward Light within).
Occasional Special Ceremony or Practice: Mindfulness Tea Ceremony, Fivefold Precepts, Bodhisattva Vow,Affirmation Ceremony (These ceremonies last no more than ten minutes and give a deeper experience of interdependence,
impermanence, ethics, gratitude, purposeful living and purification.
IV. DISCUSSION: (includes themes relating to Shin or Mahayana/Theravada practice & teachings) (45 minutes approx.)
V. CLOSING OF THE
DHARMA (emphasizing gratitude, generosity & remembrance)
(offertory with community chanting or song)
·Dedication of the Merit
Chant (A vow to study, practice and
share the dharma with all)
You are invited
Open to the curious, and beginners
and advanced practitioners. Please join us in cultivating ethical living, inner wisdom, and meditative awareness through a
systematic and integrated approach to Buddhism within a friendly community setting.
if the whole world is on fire,
Be sure to pass through
it to hear the Dharma;
Then you will surely enter the
Path of the Buddha
and everywhere deliver beings
from the river of suffering."