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FAQ

The Dharma Center Mission Statement

Our purpose is to provide a place of meditation and spiritual growth through the study and practice of Buddhist principles. We seek to support each other and our community in the development of awareness, compassion and peace.
Our goal is to have a teaching/practice center where we can join with others to discover and celebrate spiritual growth. We endeavor to share our experiences with others to build a bond of integrity and strength within our community. A positive approach to learning that can be taken out into the world. Because we are all connected, we practice responsibility in all aspects of our lives. When you cast a stone into the water, the ripples extend far beyond the original action. So, the effects of our actions often reach further than we realize. Through increased awareness and learning how to live in the moment, we have the chance to gain wisdom and compassion for ourselves and others. The path of Buddhism is inclusive and available to all.
Reverend Kris Ladusau

What is Rissho Kosei-kai

Rissho Kosei Kai was founded in Japan on March 5th, 1938 by Nikkyo Niwano and Myoko Naganuma. They saw the need for a Buddhist practice that would combine traditional teaching with everyday application to help a modern and expanding world find peace and harmony. Rissho Kosei Kai translated means – an organization based on the Dharma (Universal Truth), whose members strive to cultivate their character through encouraging and interacting with each other so that everyone can lead a better life, contribute to a better society and a peaceful world. This path is called the “Bodhisattva Way” … compassion in action.

The basic characteristics of the organization are:
*** The Dharma, on which we are based, is in accordance with the essential Buddhist teachings and the Lotus Sutra.
*** Rissho Kosei Kai emphasizes practical application of the teaching for the purpose of enriching people’s lives.
*** The practice of “hoza” or ‘the circle of harmony’ wherein members help each other understand the teachings and their relevance in daily life. Within this circle, all life situations are met head-on with the realization that Buddha-nature is in everything, in every moment; and can change anything from crisis to opportunity and proves that the change of attitude and experience is proof of the bodhisattva way and its power to transform illusion into reality.
In order for people to live peacefully, we must learn to emphasize our common aspects rather than our differences. It is the belief of Rissho Kosei Kai that such a world can be realized not through armed might but through respect for humanity. In the final analysis, all great spiritual paths can be bound together by the common desire for human happiness and liberation.
There are 239 branches in Japan, six branches and nine chapters overseas. Centers in the United States are located in: Hawaii, Seattle, Pacifica, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Chicago, New York, Klamath Falls and Denver.

What is Buddhism?

Buddhism was established 2,500 years ago in India. It refers to the teachings of Shakyamuni. These teachings were compiled into sutras (text). In the Lotus Sutra, he taught that it is possible for all people to attain Buddhahood. This is done through the manifestation of our buddha nature. By becoming aware of the wisdom and light within ourselves and bringing them into the present moment, we are able to clear away the delusion and attachments that inhibit us from spiritual growth and enlightenment.

There are basic principles common to all sects of Buddhism. These important tools are: The Seal of the Three Laws, The Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold Path, and The Law of the Twelve Causes.

Originating in India, the philosophy and teachings soon traveled to China, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, and into the western world. Buddhism is unique in its constant growth, function, and its adaptability to whatever culture it serves. Although exact numbers are unknown, it is estimated there are between 350 and 400 million Buddhists in the world.

What is the The Lotus Sutra
The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the wonderful Dharma, popularly known as ‘the Lotus Sutra’, is revered by millions of Buddhists as containing the core and culmination of the Buddha’s teaching. Together with the two shorter sutras that traditionally accompany it, Innumerable Meanings and Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Wisdom, it comprises one of the most important scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism and indeed, one of the major documents of world religion.

The Lotus Sutra consists of a series of lectures by Shakyamuni Buddha given toward the end of his forty years of teaching. At the heart of the sutra are three major concepts of Mahayana Buddhism: (1) all sentient beings can attain Perfect Enlightenment – that is, buddhahood; (2) the Buddha energy is eternal, having existed from the infinite past and appearing in many forms throughout the ages to guide and support people through the teaching of the Dharma; and (3) the noblest form of Buddhist practice is the way of the bodhisattvas … those who devote themselves to attaining enlightenment not only for themselves but for all sentient beings.

The lotus flower is special to us because it is rooted in muddy water yet grows and opens to be a pure and beautiful flower. This is true of humankind as well. We have the capability to acknowledge our existence in this chaotic world and by study and practice of the path; we can grow and blossom into compassionate human beings with perfect freedom of mind.

What is the meaning of the mantra “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo?”

One of the first things that you will hear at our Buddhist gatherings is the mantra “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo”.   Namu – deep respect; Myoho – workings of the Universe; Renge – white lotus emerging; Kyo – sutra, a thread upon which jewels of wisdom are strung.

It is an expression of respect to the teachings but also has a deeper meaning.  The words of the mantra represent a set of mind images.  These images help us focus our intent on spiritual connection.  It brings awareness to the moment and calms and quiets the mind.

The Mantra dates back to the 13th Century in Japan when it was first taught by the Buddhist Monk Nichiren.  At that time, most common people were illiterate and there were few books available to spread the Dharma.  The Mantra came from an experience Nichiren had as he was standing on top of a mountain at dawn, facing the rising sun.  As the sun rose above the horizon, this mantra rose up within him for the first time.  He voiced it loudly from the peak of that mountain.  This is a wonderful image.  These words came with enlightenment and they were intended for all of us.

As an individual practice, chanting the mantra has a very special energy, but it is even stronger with a group.  This mantra has been chanted for hundreds of years and by millions of people.  When we chant these words we join the collective energies of those spiritual practitioners.  This is the power of the Sangha, people practicing a spiritual path together.

What is a Buddha?

A buddha is a person who is enlightened to Universal Truth. “Buddha” is the title that Indian tradition gave to Shakyamuni. It is one who embodies these truths and as a result, gains complete freedom from all attachments, realizing the eternity of life. Based on this definition, Jesus, Krishna, and Mohammed would also be examples of buddhas. Shakyamuni taught in the Lotus Sutra that buddhas have appeared in the infinite past, exist in the present, and will appear in the future. Every buddha is manifested by the great life force of the Universe, or the “Eternal Buddha.” Their teachings are essentially the same, focusing on the great Truths of the Universe.

 

Who is Shakyamuni Buddha?

 Shakyamuni Buddha was born a prince of the Shakya tribe in India. His father was so full of joy at his birth, that he named him Siddhartha, which means “Every Wish Fulfilled.” He was given all that he desired and was shielded from the outside world. One day, he secretly left the palace to explore the city. There he witnessed poverty, sickness, and death. He was deeply distressed by all the problems of human existence. Being a very sensitive and compassionate person, he began to search for an answer to the question, “How can I eliminate suffering?” At the age of 29 he left his home and devoted himself to liberating all human beings from suffering and guide them all to a truly meaningful way of living. In pursuit of this goal, he lived as a nomad, monk, and as an ascetic. At this point he had experienced both a life of excess and of extreme self-denial. He knew that living to either extreme was fruitless. He saw that the Middle Path was one of balance and harmony. Still searching for more answers, he began to meditate. It was during this meditation that he achieved enlightenment.

He realized that all sentient beings are endowed with wisdom and light, and it is only because of delusion and attachment that they do not see the truth. Having this deep insight, he understood the Universal Truth (Dharma) that is applicable for everyone, in whatever time and space.

What is Hoza/Dharma Circle

To study the Way is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self, to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.
Eihei Dogen

Hoza (Dharma Circle) is fundamentally a spiritual group practice, an exercise in self-study, with an intention and willingness to change ones karma. It is a practice of compassionate listening and development of wise, reality-based understanding and solutions in our lives.
Hoza occurs when we come together with the common goal of applying the Buddha Dharma to our lives, particularly applying the teachings to our unskilled responses to life’s events. Unskilled or narrow sighted responses (views, thoughts, behaviors, etc) cause problems, suffering, stuck-ness, confusion…consequences in our lives…in other words, our karma. With our explorations in Hoza, we have the potential to discover the underlying causes and conditions. We find that our habitual faulty views, thoughts, and actions are at the root: they are conditioned phenomena.

All conditioned phenomena
Are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows,
Like dew drops and a lightning flash,
Contemplate them thus.
JANUARY 2008 VAJRA BODHI SEA 25

People sometimes have little consciousness around conditioned phenomena – their habits – the ones built up by familial bonds, life experience and cultural influences, thus they are repeated over and over and appear permanent as part of our character.
Hoza is a practice geared to shine a light on the underlying causes of our human suffering and find solutions to our everyday problems. As the Buddha said: “All conditioned things are subject to disintegration – strive on untiringly for your liberation.”