Minister’s Message, June 2011

With Our Mind, We Make the World By Rev. Don Castro

June is a busy month at the Betsuin. On June 5th, we will observe All Sangha Memorial Service with Rev. Eijun Kujo. We will read the names of all those Sangha members you wish to fondly remember. Following Memorial Day by less than a week, we will again be reflecting on those who have made our life possible through their love and dedicated service. Later in the month, on June 26th, we will honor our deceased bishops and rinban; and, of course, don’t forget Father’s Day on June 19th. We will be exercising our memory continually throughout the month. But, isn’t that normal? Don’t we spend most of each day planning or remembering?

There is an expression, “You are what you eat.” If this is true, I must be very sweet. Buddhism, however, teaches us that we make our world with our mind. Several years ago, there was an interesting study at the University of Oregon (The Seattle Times, 11/28/05, page B2) that demonstrated, “the level of mental awareness, or ‘visual working memory,’ depends on the ability to filter out irrelevant information…The results run contrary to the popular concept that memory capacity depends solely on the amount of information you can cram into your head at one time.” On reading the newspaper article describing the research, I wondered, “what is relevant or “irrelevant information”? With all the things that vie for our attention, we had better pay attention to what is important. For Shinran Shonin, our spiritual life is “that matter of first importance” for it informs every other aspect of our life. It is our spiritual life that enables us to determine, in the most important sense, what is relevant or irrelevant; in other words, what is worth remembering and what should be filtered out. Come to our memorial services and remember those who are most important to us.