Published March 2009
“Sure, I’ll write some articles about Buddhism.” Although it seems like a short time ago when I gave this answer, with this article I begin my ninth year of monthly presentations of Buddhadharma concepts. Looking back, the truth of the Dharma teaching of impermanence, the constant change that is life, becomes profoundly apparent.
Although only eight years ago, March 2001 seems to be of a different world, a far different time. After a presidential campaign that focused on what to do with the budget surplus and then a contested election result, George Bush had been president for less than two months. A sense of guarded optimism existed in America and throughout the world. We looked forward to the wonders that the new millennium might bring. Six months later, the events of September 11, 2001 thrust us into a new reality. “Truth is like lightening reflected on dew, or like the moon reflected on water: it cannot be caught or preserved.” This line from the Buddhist sutra Twelve Adorations never seemed truer.
Each month, I have tried to present a Buddhist perspective and a practical application of a Dharma teaching to our everyday life. Topics have ranged from the attacks of 9/11 and the Asian tsunami, to the more mundane like Paris Hilton, Don Imus and why I got angry with the manager of the Kenosha Mammoths. Although seemingly unrelated, the common thread has been that all people, all events are our teachers. Rather than set ourselves apart, Buddhism teaches that we are part of a universal Oneness.
Constantly aware that religion is a touchy area for many, I have attempted to present the Buddhadharma in a non-confrontational manner. Shakyamuni Buddha taught respect for all religions. Buddhism is a non-proselytizing religion; it does not seek converts. The goal of my articles has never been to convince others that I am right and they are wrong. I have simply presented the Buddhadharma from my perspective with the hope that others might find something that would help them overcome suffering.
I am always thrilled when Rick Aiello, the publisher of this magazine, tells me people have mentioned my articles to him. Some have criticized him for publishing them, but most seem to enjoy the articles. My favorite is the minister whom Rick tells me refers to me as, “That Buddhaguy.” Needless to say, I have been called many less favorable things in the course of my life.
The founding minister of my temple, Rev. Gyomay Kubose, felt the Buddhadharma needed a presentation stripped of the mysticism and worship that had become entrenched in many of the Asian lineages. Shakyamuni Buddha neither was a god nor was he a prophet. He was a human like you or me. The value lies not in studying the Buddhadharma, it lies is living it. To do so, we must be able to see how it relates to our everyday life. I hope my articles have helped.