Minister’s Message, March 2011

Okagesama de, Arigato

By Rinban Don Castro

The theme of this year’s 64th N.W. Buddhist Convention hosted by the Tacoma Buddhist Church was “Okagesama de, Arigato” which was translated into English as “Because of You, I am Well.” Reverend Kakihara and Reverend Yukawa, and the whole Tacoma sangha put on a wonderful event. Conference chairpersons June Akita and Mike Shiogi, after being recognized and thanked at the closing service, were not-too-subtly requested to please start thinking about their next convention. A special feature of this year’s convention was photos and names of our N.W. District’s Dharma members 88+ years old.

Much was said about the theme and it caused me to wonder if there is any similar expression in English. I had heard okagesama translated as , “In the shadow of…” but Reverend Bob Oshita translated it “In the shade of…” which I like better since it conveys a much more positive feeling. It puts me in mind of a hot summer day in my home of California and the refreshing shade of a big old tree that has weathered many storms. In English, however, the only expression I could think of for okagesama is “behind the scenes” which conveys some of the feeling but is still quite different.

In the drama of my life, there are many people working behind the scenes to make it possible. We are each playwright and leading actor in our drama and everyone else is either a supporting actor or working behind the scenes; without them, the drama is impossible. No proper dramatic performance is complete without a curtain call where all the actors who appeared during the play are called once again on stage to be thanked and applauded. In reality, to thank everyone is impossible: stage hands, ticket sellers, ushers, janitors, costumes, etc., etc. Likewise, the drama of our life is incomplete without a curtain call to thank everyone who has made it possible: “And the award for Best Supporting Actor goes to…”

As with any actor, I hope I get a part in a great play. Imagine being offered free tickets to a great play and then being told, “…but the performance was horrible.” Finally, at the end of my life, as I lay on my deathbed, I hope to hear the audience shout, “Encore!” I wonder if some day we will hear in English, “Behind the scenes, much obliged.”