http://www.UrbanDharma.org ...Buddhism for Urban America


The Urban Dharma Newsletter... December 23, 2003


In This Issue: Buddhist Christmas

1. A Buddhist Christmas Tree ...Weekly Sermon
2. A Buddhist Christmas Story ...A Christmas Story from the Lotus Sutra
3. Christmas Dharma
...by Lama Thubten Yeshe
4. Christmas Practice
...Santoshni Perara
5. "Giving loving kindness at Christmas"
- by Sian Spanner
6. Converting Christmas
...By Rev. Oswin Hollenbeck

7. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week: The Manitoba Buddhist Church
8. Book/CD/Movie Review: None


UrbanDharma.org Update... Last week I changed UrbanDharma.org's web-hosting and file structure. Everything is just about back to normal, except - because of the file changes a lot of the pages folks have links to no longer work. Most notable is the "LA Buddhist- Catholic Dialogue" web-site. Sorry for any inconvenience. Peace and have a mindful holiday, Kusala

The new address's are -

LA Buddhist/Catholic Dialogue - http://www.urbandharma.org/bcdialog/index.html

Wilshire Center Parish Asso. - http://www.urbandharma.org/wilshire/index.html

Garden Grove Interfaith - http://www.urbandharma.org/gginterfaith/index.html

1. A Buddhist Christmas Tree ...Weekly Sermon


“Every major religion has an important holy day sometime between mid-November and mid-January. Not one can claim to own the season entirely unto itself. ” This is the third year I have begun my annual Bodhi Day message with this idea. Bodhi Day is the date we celebrate of Shakyamuni’s enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. Our Buddhist community in the Manitoba Buddhist Church celebrates early in December this appearance of Buddhahood in our world.

This is an important date for the entire Winnipeg faith community, as well, because it gives those of the dominant faith a chance to acquaint themselves with those who share the Holy Days. The interaction of the faith communities has not always been a pleasant story, as the events of Sept. 11 have shown. I just returned from an intensive meditation/study session in Kyoto.

The English speaking newspapers there had several articles about the future of religion in light of the recent war. One article argued impressively that all of the religions need to re-examine their truth claims in the wake of Sept. 11 events. It is indeed touching to see how some of the faith communities are reaching out towards each other, sometimes hesitantly, beyond their faith enclaves. It is surely true for our interracial and interfaith community at the Manitoba Buddhist Church.

My question for these Holy Days in 2001 is this: why should we have to depend on Sept. 11? Is it not possible to reach out to one another in light of the Holy Season? Then our reactions would be more pro-active rather than merely reactive. Will the war move us in the direction of a society of religious robots in cookie-cutter faith ghettos? Will the loss of democratic rights in the face of terrorism lead also to the loss of religious freedom?

The Holy Season offers us a way to face these questions. We may start by asking forgiveness, offering forgiveness and seeking theological accommodations for ‘the others.’ In that spirit, I ask forgiveness for any insult directed towards those of another faith. I also sincerely forgive those who have persecuted Buddhism in the name of their faith. I further pledge to seek theological accommodations that view other faiths as participants in the power of the saving grace emanating from deep within my own.

So, once again I will erect my Buddhist Christmas tree, my Bodhi Tree. There will be dragons, elephants and fantastic birds from our sacred stories, the Jataka Tales. For the post Sept. 11 world, I will also include a symbol for other faiths. This will be a kind of Interfaith-Bodhi-Christmas-Tree for the Holy Days. I am most anxious to see what kind of gifts Santa Claus will leave for me under this kind of tree. Fredrich Ulrich, Sensei Manitoba Buddhist Church.

2. A Buddhist Christmas Story ...A Christmas Story from the Lotus Sutra


One time a young man inherited 4 farms form his father. He also married his childhood sweetheart. He celebrated his good fortune by building a great house with servants and many rooms.

As the children were born the man bought many toys. He filled the children's rooms with toys of many colors and sizes. The children loved to play for hours in their nursery.

One day a fire broke our in the house. The father shout, "Run everybody." Naturally he expected his children to run out of the house with them. But they didn't follow the mother and father outside to safety. The parents called and called to the children, but they did not want to leave their wonderful toys. A neighbor who had come to help out with the fire suggested that they lure the children outside with more new toys. "But we don't have any," said the father. "We'll just make them up," suggested the tear faced mother as the flames grew hotter and hotter.

"Come on out," shouted the father and mother together. "We have horses, carts, jumping frogs, mechanical dolls, bows and even a monkey."

The children left the burning house and their beloved toys to see the new ones and thus were saved. When the smoke cleared from their eyes they saw the house destroyed. They also noticed that there were really no new toys to be seen at all. For the first time in their lives they knew what it was to have nothing and be very grateful indeed.

3. Christmas Dharma ...by Lama Thubten Yeshe


Teachings given to Western students at Kopan Monastery on Christmas Eve

When we see each other again on Christmas Eve for the celebration of Holy Jesus' birth, let us do so in peace and with a good vibration and a happy mind. I think it would be wonderful. To attend the celebration with an angry disposition would be so sad. Come instead with a beautiful motivation and much love. Have no discrimination, but see everything as a golden flower, even your worst enemy. Then Christmas, which so often produces an agitated mind, will become so beautiful.

When you change your mental attitude, the external vision also changes. This is a true turning of the mind. There is no doubt about this. I am not special, but I have had experience of doing this, and it works. You people are so intelligent, so you can understand how the mind has this ability to change itself and its environment. There is no reason why this change cannot be for the better.

Some of you might think, "Oh, I want to have nothing to do with Jesus, nothing to do with the Bible." This is a very angry, emotional attitude to have towards Christianity. If you really understood, you would recognize that what Jesus taught was, "Love!" It is as simple and as profound as that. If you had true love within you, I am sure you would feel much more peaceful than you do now.

How do you normally think of love? Be honest. It is always involved with discriminations, isn't it? Just look around this room and see if anyone here is an object of your love. Why do you discriminate so sharply between friend and enemy? Why do you see such a big difference between yourself and others?

In the Buddhist teaching, this falsely discriminating attitude is called dualism. Jesus said that such an attitude is the opposite of true love. Therefore, is there any one of us who has the pure love that Jesus was talking about? If we do not, we should not criticize his teachings or feel they are irrelevent to us. We are the ones who have misunderstood, perhaps knowing the words of his teachings, but never acting upon them.

There are so many beautiful sentences in the Bible, but I do not recall reading that Jesus ever said that without your doing anything whatsoever -- without preparing yourself in some way -- the Holy Spirit would descend upon you, whoosh! If you do not act the way He said you should act, there is no Holy Spirit existent anywhere for you.

What I have read in the Bible has the same connotation as the Buddhist teachings on equilibrium, compassion and changing one's ego-attachment into love for others. It may not be immediately obvious how to train your mind to develop these attitudes, but it is certainly possible to do so. Only our selfishness and closed-mindedness prevent us.

With true realizations, the mind is no longer egotistically concerned with its own salvation. With true love, one no longer behaves dualistically; feeling very attached to some people, distant from others and totally indifferent to the rest. It is so simple. In the ordinary personality, the mind is always divided against itself, always fighting and disturbing its own peace.

The teachings on love are very practical. Do not put religion somewhere up in the sky and feel you are stuck down here on Earth. If the actions of body, speech and mind are in accordance with loving kindness, you automatically become a truly religious person. To be religious does not mean that you attend certain teachings. If you listen to teachings and misinterpret them, you are in fact, the opposite of religious. And it is only because you do not understand a certain teaching that you abuse religion.

Lack of deep understanding leads to partisanship. The ego feels, "I am a Buddhist, therefore Christianity must be all wrong." This is very harmful to true religious feeling. You do not destroy a religion with bombs, but with hatred. More importantly, you destroy the peacefulness of your own mind. It does not matter if you express your hatred with words or not. The mere thoughts of hatred automatically destroys your peace.

Similarly, true love does not depend on physical expression. You should realize this. True love is a feeling deep within you. It is not just a matter of wearing a smile on your face and looking happy. Rather, it arises from a heartfelt understanding of every other being's suffering and radiates out to them indiscriminately. It does not favor a chosen few to the exclusion of everyone else.

Furthermore, if someone hits you and you react with anger or great alarm, crying, "What has happened to me?" this also has nothing to do with a mind knowing the meaning of true love. It is just the ignorant preoccupation of the ego within its own welfare. How much wiser it is to realize, "Being hit does not really harm me. My delusion of hatred is an enemy that harms me much more than this." Reflecting like this allows true love to grow.

*** These teachings came from a wonderful book we once had at our center called Silent Mind, Holy Mind, a collection of talks given by Lama Yeshe at Kopan Monastery at the end one of the early month-long Kopan Meditation Courses. Western students had gathered on Christmas Eve, feeling a little out-of-place and unsure of what to do with their feelings of "missing out on Christmas," most of their early spiritual practice in this life.

Lama, sensing their confusing feelings, had them go to the meditation hall where he gave these talks about Christmas and Buddhist practice. These were recorded and later became the book published by Wisdom Publications. Our copy at the center has long-ago disappeared and the book is no longer in print, but this excerpt remains and we share it here with our Net-Friends. Merry Christmas!

4. Christmas Practice ...Santoshni Perara


The wintry nip is already in the air. By mid-November, the shops will herald in the shopping season. From the first sighting of tinsel in the high street, commercial Xmas will be rolling on with Xmas cards, Xmas shopping, carols , the Xmas hit single, Xmas lights, turkeys, food, and more food, alcohol… I don’t have to go on; we know what the Xmas frenzy can be like.

It’s difficult not to get swept by the infectious euphoria of the Xmas tide… or, if as Buddhists, we feel that Xmas is not for us to celebrate, we can easily become cynical Scrooges or merely join in for the sake of family and tradition. Can this mass midwinter celebration of the Christian world hold anything for Buddhist practitioners?

A Buddhist practitioner is a full-time "reflecter". As such, we can use this opportunity to reflect on the many aspects of Christmas. The midwinter solstice heralds the birth of Spring; daylight gradually overtakes the long nights of winter. The hope and joy of the birth of another year coincides with the celebration of the birth of the Christian prophet. Remembering in this manner the birth of a wise, compassionate teacher we can reflect on the ever-present potential for goodness and truth to manifest through the human heart and mind. All religious traditions celebrate the birth of their prophet or teacher. This is a time of showing gratitude for their life, their example and their teachings.

What I like about the significance of Wesak, the Buddhist equivalent of Christmas, is that it incorporates not only the birth, but also the enlightenment and the "parinibbana" of the Buddha. A Buddhist contemplating birth also reflects on "death", as any conditioned phenomena, be it thoughts, feelings, or actions, that arise will also cease. However, in between birth and cessation exists the potential for transformation – the potential to go beyond birth and death. That is the significance of the Buddha’s enlightenment on Wesak full moon day and Jesus’s transfiguration at Easter.

For those who follow the teachings of the wise, every birth of a new day, a new year, a new thought, emotion or activity, is an opportunity to transcend the conditioned realm of birth and death.

The Buddha outlined what needs to be done to break free from the darkness of our ignorance. Isn’t it significant that lamps, lanterns and lights feature in festivals that celebrate the birth of a great teacher? It is symbolic of how their teaching brings the light of wisdom which dispels the gloom of ignorance.

In Sri Lanka, people celebrate Wesak by lighting hundreds of patiently hand-crafted paper lanterns. So, as those lights are switched on in Regent Street this year, we can renew our commitment to the Noble Eightfold Path which enables the practitioner to embody the luminescence of wisdom by dispelling the darkness of ignorance.

We can regard this season for giving and receiving gifts as an intensified practice of dana and we can remind ourselves that generosity does not only consist of giving material things, but also of our time, labour and love. Dana, hangs together with sila (Xmas festivities provide a good opportunity to be mindful of the fifth precept!) and bhavana (less TV on Boxing Day?). We can send out messages of metta and mudita.

We can practice karuna towards those for whom Xmas is a time of hardship and trauma – the homeless, the elderly and the millions of turkeys going to slaughter. And, we can experience Xmas with equanimity by not slinking away from it with aversion and cynicism or getting caught up in the mindless commercial euphoria but with the knowing that as with all such events, Xmas festivities will arise and cease but what is going to be of value are the changes that may have taken place in us in the space between. Happy Christmas!

5. "Giving loving kindness at Christmas" - by Sian Spanner


In this article Sian Spanner considers how she will deal with Xmas at her in-laws. Sian believes that the key to peace and happiness at Xmas is attained through giving loving kindness.

This year I will be spending Christmas with my in-laws. Since making this decision in August, we have all been in talks about dietary requirements, gifts, guests, transport arrangements etc. Coupled with these talks has been the odd outburst of angst, frustration, door slamming and tears which appears to accompany the very thought of being in a confined space with ones family.

The truth is I would love to spend my end of year holiday with my friends at a Buddhist Centre. I would like to believe that my motivation is to spend the time meditating on compassion. In reality I just want to have a rest, enjoy the quiet and not have to make too much effort with other people.

Already, from the point of view of Buddha’s teachings, I am making a mistake. At the UK Dharma Celebration in October Gen-La Samden, the Deputy Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition, very kindly pointed this imprisoning habit out to us. He asked us why we bring so much harm to others and ourselves? Why the door slamming, why the tears, why the anger? Why would I rather be in a Buddhist centre this Christmas?

Gen-La explained that whilst the mind is under the control of delusions (e.g. anger, attachment) we have complete conviction that the way we perceive a situation or a person is true. Based on this perception our minds react in an unbalanced way. For example, for me Christmas with my friends = good (happy), Christmas with the in-laws = bad (unhappy). It’s as though I have unearthed ‘the truth’ of what Christmas with the in-laws is actually like and consequently I will relate to them in a negative way. This is how we cause so much harm. This is what causes our anxiety, our pain, our anger, and our disappointment especially at Christmas when we are ruled by our expectations.

Gen-La reminded me that the judgement my mind has reached is not an objective truth; it is actually just a subjective reality. This means that how I perceive a situation depends entirely on my state of mind, there is nothing coming from the side of my in-laws that is inherently good or bad. We can put a lot of energy into creating the best conditions but if our mind is unhappy then we will not enjoy ourselves or be of benefit to others. An example of this happened only this week when I met one of my best friends in one of our favourite restaurants and my mood was so negative that neither of us enjoyed ourselves. Alternatively, if we have a happy, peaceful mind any given situation can become a source of enjoyment and we will be able to help and inspire others."

So, if our experience depends upon our state of mind, what minds would be of benefit this Christmas? I am sure that the subjective reality I would like at Christmas is one rooted in love and compassion. In reality it is not my in laws that I am dreading but my state of mind. I fear the negative feelings that arise when my mind loses its patience, kindness and love. Gen-La very beautifully encouraged us to open our hearts to the beings around us, not just those who make us feel nice. He said, “… our hearts should melt when we meet people. When was the last time your heart melted?” Good question.

Buddha has given us many methods to generate these minds and there is one that has particular relevance at Christmas. In his book Eight Steps to Happiness, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition, writes:

“All living beings deserve to be cherished because of the tremendous kindness they have shown us…Even simple pleasures such as going for a walk or watching a beautiful sunset can be seen to be the result of the kindness of innumerable living beings. Our skills and abilities all come form the kindness of others; we had to be taught how to eat, how to walk, how to talk and how to read and write. Even the language we speak is not our own invention but the product of many generations…All the facilities we take for granted, such as houses, cars, roads, shops, schools, hospitals and cinemas are produced solely through others’ kindness. When we travel by bus or car we take the roads for granted but many people worked very hard to build them and make them safe for us.”

Just contemplating this can give rise to very lovely minds, such as minds of gratitude and love. By meditating on the benefits we receive through the actions of others we can gradually develop a good heart to those around us. When our heart is open and warm our minds relax, our defences disappear and others enjoy being with us because they feel cherished.

Following this it is natural that we shall be able to act affectionately and kindly to others. Small gestures like getting up early and taking a cup of tea to everyone in bed, or just simply asking what we can do to help, feel effortless. The warmth that arises gives us the energy and inspiration to be of benefit to others. This is a transforming and beautiful experience for everyone.

We all complain that Christmas has become too commercialised, that it’s has lost it’s meaning. We would all love to have a peaceful and happy time. Gen-La proposed that we have a responsibility to live wisely and act compassionately. What better gift could I give to my in laws this Christmas?

6. Converting Christmas ...By Rev. Oswin Hollenbeck


Buddhist Winter Holiday Decorations

Buddhist winter holiday decorations represent in visual form what the world and universe looked like when Shakyamuni Buddha realized enlightenment. These decorations also are derived from descriptions of various Pure Lands presided over by a celestial or transcendental Buddha such as Amitábha (Amida), which are again, from our tradition’s point of view, representations of Nirvana or enlightenment. As we adapt Buddhism to a western culture, Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett, the founder of our Order, was innovative and creative in drawing freely from Christian and pre-Christian northern European (pagan) symbols and customs to allow our Buddhist winter holidays to fit into the surrounding culture.

Buddha’s enlightenment is traditionally observed in northern Buddhism (China, Japan, Korea) on December 8th. Temples of our Order often schedule the public celebration of the holiday on December 25th or on a December Sunday convenient for the laity. Gifts representing the Dharma and other offerings of love and gratitude are appropriate.

Jewel Trees

Jewel trees represent the Bodhi-tree, the beautiful Indian fig tree with shimmering heart-shaped leaves under which the Buddha realized enlightenment. Any sort of tree will do—Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in England uses an artificial tree resembling the original Bo tree. Pine trees in the East, and by extension other conifers, are considered to symbolize the Eternal, since they are ever-green, that is, not changing with the seasons.

These trees are described in the Scriptures as “bejeweled, heavy with blossoms and fruit,” strung with garlands and nets of flowers, jewels, and bells, all of which radiate and reflect light. Most of our traditional Christmas tree ornaments can be seen to have Buddhist meaning:


Jewels are precious and beautiful. In ancient times there were seven gems especially valued: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, ruby or pearl, and carnelian.1 Jewel-like ornaments can represent the Three Treasures, the Teaching or a portion thereof, or the wish-fulfilling jewel (often a pearl), the Buddha Nature within each of us which can satisfy the Heart’s deepest longing.


Flowers seem to be a favorite, almost universal offering, pleasing to see in beauty, form, texture, color and scent. A full blossom often represents enlightenment. Various flowers have specific meanings in Buddhism, such as the lotus, representing the path of training, and the plum blossom, symbolizing the Zen transmission.


Fruit, being the product of the flower, can represent the results of training and the deeds of merit we practice on the Bodhisattva path, such as charity, benevolence, tenderness and sympathy. They are nourishing and sweet. The Healing Buddha Bhaisájyaguru often holds in His hand a piece of fruit, representing the medicine of meditation or the Dharma.


All of the above, as well the Buddha Himself and everything around Him, emanated and reflected light, the true nature of the universe. Also, the moment of Shakyamuni’s enlightenment occurred when He saw the morning star rising in the eastern sky.

Bells and Drums

Jewel trees are sometimes described hung with bells which tinkle musically in the air. Devas (heavenly beings) and celestial musicians beat drums and make other “pleasing music”. Sometimes the trees themselves mysteriously produce music. All of these can represent the sound or voice of the Dharma.

Garlands and Nets

All of the ornaments above frequently hang from garlands and nets, which together with chains, tassels, and banners often drape the jewel trees.

Other traditional ornaments

With a bit of imagination, other traditional ornaments may be “converted” for use on a Buddhist jewel tree: angels become devas and celestial musicians; birds approximate dragons and garudas, or become another source for the beautiful music; snowflakes remind us of impermanence.

Other Buddhist symbols

There are also many other Buddhist symbols which lend themselves to being fashioned into ornaments: the Wheel of the Dharma (Dharmachakra), a conch shell (representing the Voice of the Eternal), the knot of Eternity (representing the everlasting love of the Eternal), and other of the “eight auspicious symbols” used to venerate the Buddha.2 Stupas of various sorts and designs can represent different traditions and cultures. Animals with specific symbolism such as lions, elephants, and dragons may be used, as well as other animals from the Jataka tales with special significance for you and your training. Lastly, ornaments in which one places a photo work well for favorite Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Arahants, your master or teacher, or members of your family or loved ones. Use what works best for you and your family and friends.

Scriptural references for “jewel trees” and adornments: From the opening of The Avatamsaka (Flower Garland) Sutra, one of the traditional Scriptures of the Serene Reflection Meditation (So¯to¯ Zen) tradition:

Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was [residing] in the land of Magadha, in a state of purity, at the site of enlightenment, having just realized true awareness. The ground was solid and firm, made of diamond, adorned with exquisite jewel discs and myriad precious flowers, with pure clear crystals…There were banners of precious stones, constantly emitting shining light and producing beautiful sounds. Nets of myriad gems and garlands of exquisitely scented flowers hung all around. The finest jewels appeared spontaneously, raining inexhaustible quantities of gems and beautiful flowers all over the earth. There were rows of jewel trees, their branches and foliage lustrous and luxuriant.

The tree of enlightenment was tall and outstanding. Its trunk was diamond, its main boughs were lapis lazuli, its branches and twigs were of various precious elements. The leaves, spreading in all directions, provided shade, like clouds. The precious blossoms were of various colors, the branching twigs spread out their shadows. Also the fruits were jewels containing a blazing radiance. They were together with the flowers in great arrays. The entire circumference of the tree emanated light; within the light there rained precious stones, and within each gem were enlightening beings [Bodhisattvas], in great hosts like clouds, simultaneously appearing….The tree of enlightenment constantly gave forth sublime sounds speaking various truths without end.3

From The Scripture on the Immeasurable Life of the Tathagata, a chapter of The Lotus Sutra:

Tranquil will this realm [Pure Land] of Mine be, ever filled with devas and humans in parks and groves, amongst towers and palaces bedecked with gems of every kind. Under bejeweled trees, heavy with blossoms and fruit, may these beings take their delight and play, whilst devas beat their heavenly drums, ever making pleasing music, and showering down coral tree flowers upon the Buddha and His great assembly.4


1 The Threefold Lotus Sutra, Kato/Underhill trans. (Tokyo: Ko¯sei Publishing, 1975), Glossary, “precious seven,” p. 379.

2 The eight symbols are fish, parasol, conch shell, lotus blossom, victory banner, sacred water vase, Dharma wheel, and knot of eternity. See The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, Fischer-Schreiber, etal, trans. by Michael Kohn (Boston: Shambhala, 1991), p. 62.

3 The Flower Ornament Scripture, Volume 1, trans. Thomas Cleary (Boulder: Shambhala, 1984), p. 55.

4 Buddhist Writings on Meditation and Daily Practice: The Serene Reflection Meditation Tradition, trans. Rev. Hubert Nearman, eds. Rev. Master P.T.N.H. Jiyu-Kennett and Rev. Daizui MacPhillamy (Mount. Shasta, California: Shasta Abbey Press, 1994), p. 36.

7. The Manitoba Buddhist Church



The Manitoba Buddhist Church has its origins in the events surrounding the contentious evacuation of the Japanese-Canadians during WWII. Over 1000 Japanese -Canadians arrived in Manitoba with the promise of keeping the families together, work and housing. These families endured many hardships including racial, religious and cultural persecution. At the end of the war their was some interest in removing Japanese-Canadians from Manitoba, but there were those who spoke out in their favor, including the Winnipeg Free Press.

In 1946 these Manitobans began to organize to build a church for moral, spiritual, social and cultural activities. In 1947 the WFP published the first announcement of a Buddhist religious event in Manitoba. This was obon, a very important yearly memorial service in the Shin Buddhist tradition usually held in July or August. Hideo Nishimura, a farm worker in Emerson, became the lay minister and later after study in Japan full minister (sensei) of the fledgling church. A beautiful altar arrived in 1951 and by 1952 the church was up and running with a language school, a Sunday School and regular Sunday services. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1996. The church survives today because of the selfless devotion of its members throughout its 53-year history.

The money, time, and energy devoted to this church can not truly be comprehended by those of us who stand as beneficiaries of those past efforts. Nor can we underestimate the difficulties they endured, difficulties which included racial prejudice and faith prejudice. Our only recourse is to express our gratitude by continuing to make the teachings of the Buddha available to the Winnipeg community. We are especially grateful to those who have persisted in their Buddhist faith against all odds. It is one of the ironies of history that Buddhism is now one of the fastest growing religions in North America. As the Buddhist scriptures become more available in English it is clear that they offer a sound faith that benefits family and community stability.

The Japanese-Canadians have remained quietly persistent in their efforts to make Winnipeg a better community. They have been so successful it is now difficult to imagine Winnipeg without them.

The Buddhist Churches of Canada, of which the church in Manitoba is a member, will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2005 with 16 groups in Canada. This history represents a bold experiment in cultural adaptations. Recently, many other Buddhist groups have come to Canada. Cities like Edmonton and Calgary for example boast of over 20 Buddhist groups. For the larger centres the number is even higher. There are fewer that 10 in the Winnipeg region but the number of smaller groups is growing. Many still cling to their ethnic origins and their ethnic languages.

The Buddhist Churches of Canada, however, is presented with some interesting demographics. These loyal Canadians adopted the 'church' as understood in the Protestant traditions after WWII as a model for its spiritual community. Other Buddhist communities still offer the Oriental model and visiting them provides an altogether different experience. It will be interesting to watch the evolution of Canadian Western Buddhism. Will the 'church' model prevail or does the future of Buddhism in Canada lie with a wider choice of models? The future clearly lies with the use of the English language. Currently the chanting is offered in the liturgical language since we have not yet developed a good way to chant in English. All other elements of the services are offered in English. Two chants, the invocation and the Triple Treasure of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, are done in Sanskrit, the language of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha.

As a 'church' it now is subject to all the challenges of churches. Challenges such as keeping young people involved, finding adequate materials on the faith in English, music and the all pervasive question of how to finance churches in Canada are held in common with the churches of other faiths.

There is also a 60% to 90% intermarriage rate in the Buddhist Churches of Canada. This means that we enjoy the privilege of interfaith marriages, interracial families and families with more than one language. Our success with this rich heritage moves us to be actively involved in the interfaith movement and movements for racial harmony.

We are rapidly developing the skills of learning to live in an interfaith and interracial city, now communities like the Manitoba Buddhist Church are taking the leadership in evolving strategies for interfaith/interracial families to live together in mutual respect and support. We maintain a deep respect for the Japanese roots of the tradition, but realize that the modern plant has grown to include all Canadians in a movement to develop a Western Canadian Buddhism.

You are invited to join us in this adventure.

MINISTERS: Senseis Nishimura (1946-1971), Moriki (1969-1975), Hayashi (1975-1984), Terasaki (1985), Miyakawa (1985-1999), Ulrich (1999-- )

Resource on the history of Shin Buddhism in Canada: BUKKYO TOZEN, Terry Watada. HpF Press and Toronto Buddhist Church, ISBN 0-9699502-0-9. (in English)

Resource on the teachings: OCEAN, Kenneth K. Tanaka, WisdomOcean Publications. ISBN 0-9658062-0-0.

Name: Manitoba Buddhist Church - Jodo-shin-shu Buddhism

Founder of Shin: Shinran (1173-1262)

Buddha: Amida Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Life and Light

Scriptures: 1) The Larger Scripture on Infinite Life, 2) The Smaller Scripture on Infinite Life, 3) The Meditation Scripture on Infinite Life

Teaching: Having awakened to the compassion of Amida Buddha we rejoice in the assurance of Buddhahood and we shall endeavor to live a life of gratitude and service.

The Promise: This Buddhist community is joined together by the gladness of receiving the Awakening of Faith of Amida Buddha. As Shin Buddhists we shall seek to be humble and sincere in words and deeds, to be responsible citizens of our society and to share with others the teachings of Shinran and the Buddha for the betterment of our society. Understanding fully the principle of causality, we shall not practice petitionary prayer or magic and do not depend on astrology and superstitions.


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