Dana for World Peace

by Rimban Katsuya Kusunoki

The NW District of BCA is going to hold its annual convention in conjunction with the BCA National Council Meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Renton, Washington in February 2020. Seattle Betsuin is hosting both these big conferences. The theme is “Dana for World Peace”. We took this theme from the slogan of our sect, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha. Our Gomonshu also mentioned this slogan in his New Year Greeting message. (Please see the 2019 January Wheel of Dharma.)

“What can I do to contribute to world peace?” Regardless of nationality, race, religion, or occupation, everyone has their wish for World Peace. That’s the very reason it is important to be aware that we are Buddhists, Shin Buddhist, followers. The BCA National Council meeting and the NW Convention are gatherings for Shin Buddhists; these are not political gatherings nor are they gatherings for activists. We learn Buddhism, seek enlightenment and practice Dana as much as we can. Through walking this Buddhist path, World Peace and everyone’s peaceful life are spontaneously fulfilled. It is like putting the cart before the horse if we just utilize Buddha Dharma to make world peace. Therefore, at the conference of “Dana for World Peace”, it is important to seriously think about what Dana is, to think about and learn how we can practice Dana in our daily lives and understand how Dana gives rise to making World Peace.

In July, a gathering, “Peace of Liberty” was held at the Wisteria Park across the street from the Seattle Betsuin. The immigrants from Central America were sent to a camp and parents and children are separated there. The “Peace of Liberty” was the gathering to protest this issue. I have a son who just became three years old. So, I also felt that children should stay with their parents. I think everyone who was there had the same feeling. A couple of speakers gave speeches and most speakers criticized the government and used the word “outrage” in their speech. I felt their speech inflamed people’s complaints and anger.

Buddhism teaches us that human beings have three poisons. These are Greed, Anger, and Stupidity (or ignorance). Abbreviated, we call them “GAS”. At Sunday Service and Dharma School, we teach that the three poisons are the causes of our human sufferings, we try to realize what kind of three poisons we have and try not to use them. Then, we can live our lives with gratitude. Dhammapada 5 also says, “In this world, hatred is never eliminated by hatred, but hatred is eliminated only by abandoning hatred. This is an eternal truth”. These are the fundamental teaching of Buddhism, and dharma school students also know this teaching very well. Buddhist ministers and followers follow the teachings and show their (our) way of living to children and other people. It is one of the aspects of “Dana”.

I am not denying what the “Light of Liberty” speakers said. I just feel their approach and the Buddhist approach to “World Peace” are different. We are Shin Buddhists, Jodo Shinshu followers. By appreciating causes and conditions, we are able to encounter the Buddha Dharma. The world in which we live now is changing rapidly. There are many things happening simultaneously. Everybody has different values and ethical views. As times change, values and views also change. We all have our karma to live in this world. Precisely for this reason, it is important to walk the Buddhist Path which is unwavering and tells us the universal truth. Jodo Shinshu, Shin Buddhism, is the path for people who have the Karma to live in this world. How does practicing Dana and walking the Shin Buddhist path contribute to World Peace and make people’s lives peaceful? How do we live our secular life following the Buddhist Path and the teaching of Dana? The Convention in February is an opportunity to think about how Dana and walking the Shin Buddhist Path give rise to blooming a flower of world peace.

(To be continued) Gassho, Rev. Katsu