Messages from Shaku Arthur Kaufmann
What’s a Buddhist to Do?
What is a Buddhist to do in December?
It is probably difficult for folks to remember in the midst of the commercial Christmas hype, the sales, and songs on the radio and the shows on TV some of which began before Thanksgiving, to remember that we Buddhists have a very important Holiday in December.
On December 8th we celebrate Bodhi Day, the day on which Siddhartha Gautama awakened to Enlightenment and became the Sage of the Shakya Clan or the Shakyamuni Buddha.
After lifetimes of preparation and six years of intensive practice as a monk, he achieved his goal of Enlightenment. He was 35 years old.
Siddhartha’s accomplishment was not only significant for him but it was also significant for each of us. Through his teaching activity he let us know the ways for us to lessen or even go beyond the sufferings of this world. He spent the rest of his life, 45 years, up until the moment of his death, teaching us ways in which we too can alleviate our suffering in this human existence and live joyously through his Dharma (teachings).
Yes, I said joyously!
We must remember that the Shakyamuni Buddha was not under any obligation to teach. He had reached his goal, he had the answers to his questions. He had moved beyond the world of suffering and sorrow. He now had access to the Infinite Wisdom/Compassion of Enlightenment. This being the case he could have just spent the rest of his physical existence exploring his Enlightenment, however, he also realized that there were those persons that were close to attaining Enlightenment and those who were struggling to alleviate their suffering in both the monastic and lay communities. He could not forget those of us who were still suffering and not even knowing why. The Buddha Dharma (teachings) can afford us the opportunity to understand our own natures and the nature of this life we are living. These understandings, in themselves, can be a source of great hope, joy and gratitude.
Siddhartha’s Enlightenment is indeed a reason to celebrate, how you do it though, as an individual or as a family, is up to you. I hope that going to the temple will be part of that celebration.
“But Sensei, what about Christmas”? Well, as you no doubt know, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth who was the compassionate teacher of the Christian faith. It is celebrated by Christians all over the world. Christmas is also celebrated by folks of other faiths and/or folks who are not particularly religious at all.
I think what attracts people to this holiday is the spirit of the day. It is a family type holiday. Families who follow the Christian faith, and those who do not, seem to make an effort to come together to share this time during which they can acknowledge and express their love and gratitude to the members of their families, friends, co-workers, business clients and the people who serve us day in and day out.
In other words it is an opportunity to acknowledge the inter-relationships and inter-dependencies in which we live. Whether this is done with a gift, a card, or just a cheerful greeting, such things can make a person’s day a little brighter. So you can wish your fellow Buddhists a Happy Bodhi Day, a Merry Christmas, to our Christian friends and everyone, a Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends and a Happy Kwanzaa to our African American friends.
Do not be afraid to share the joy of this season with others. We should not ignore or overlook such an opportunity.
As far as Jesus is concerned, one of my sensei’s observations was, “There is nothing wrong with observing the birth of a great religious leader”. If you wish to celebrate Christmas, do so respectfully and with aloha.
So, Happy Bodhi Day, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa to all our friends and neighbors and a very Happy New Year to us all.
Shaku Art Kaufmann
Since it is already out of the papers and with his confirmation, it would be easy for me to skip over the recent Supreme Court Nomination hearings. As a male, I would like nothing better, but I am also a priest and there were things within it event that I feel must be talked about.
The accusations that made about the candidate were numerous and serious and exposed (once again) a dark cloud that hovers over our society. The ladies of the “Me too” movement have exposed the harm and damage experienced by woman who have finally found their voices to condemn this ignorance.
This cloud was, and still is, allowed to exist. For countless years to this Day in this country, as well as others, it has existed, but I am talking about our society.
There is a biased attitude between male and female genders, weighted on the male side. It seems that it has always been so and the weight of that alone, is used sometimes to justify this attitude.
It is a deeply rooted delusion in our psychological make up that “men” are more important, more entitled and more deserving than women. This attitude was carried here by our ancestors from our former countries.
No matter how long it has existed or where it came from these delusional double standards have been foisted on both genders and at some point had to be taught.
It had to be passed down from generation to generation to generation. The problem is that it still exists!
It seems that no matter how “Enlightened” our society becomes, the extreme opposite of that enlightenment, ignorance, exists and that is where this attitude comes from, pure ignorance.
The attitude towards women is an unequal double standard in which negative Male behavior towards women is sometimes over looked as “boys being boys” while the object of that behavior, girls or women can be severely physically or psychologically, damaged and it is wrong.
After a particularly bad school shooting, a commentator made this observation, “Americans love to have children but they just do not like to raise them.”
Well, if the parents don’t teach them, who will?
If the parents don’t give their children a set of values they need to get along in our society, who will?
If the parents don’t teach their children what is right and what is wrong, who will? If the parents don’t do these things for their children, what kind of society are we going to have? What will their karma, or lack of karma result in?
Yes, it is true that the Buddha did not initially allow women into the sangha but I think that was more a product of Indian society (male dominated) than any short-coming on the of the part women themselves. Do you think that the infinite wisdom and boundless compassion of Enlightenment would be denied to women??
All this is not to say that there hasn’t been some progress made but has it been enough though? Is there equanimity between the genders? I think not, but that is what must be acknowledged as true.
Is there anyone here not born of woman?
Have women contributed to our society all throughout our history? Is there some kind of imaginary game or competition going on between the genders?
Does everything we do in this society have to be a contest?
These questions have to be addressed for our society to evolve.
We have to remember that we are the authors of change, we are the architects of our society and that is our responsibility.
I must confess that as a younger man I too was a part of that ignorance we spoke of and I am ashamed of it. Fortunately, I have known some strong compassionate women in my life and they showed me where the line was and I have respected that line ever since.
I do not know if this would be an empty gesture but we cannot really know the contents of another’s life. If anyone here has suffered abusive treatment of the nature discussed, I am truly sorry. Somebody has to say that, somebody has to apologize.
Greed, Anger (Fear) and Ignorance
I am a little behind the times with this subject but I hope you got to read Bishop Matsumoto’s piece of the separation of immigrant children from their parents. I hope you took some time to reflect on it and see how you would feel if it happened to your family. “Oh, but Shaku, such a thing could not happen to us nowadays,” you might say. Is that so?
Bishop Matsumoto and the President of the BCA both cited the relocation of their ancestors at the onset of our involvement in the Second World War. The relocation was a product of fear, after you get through all the propaganda, fear usually lies underneath anger and anger is one of the Three Poisons of Greed, Anger and Ignorance.
If we look at any conflict or negative situation, whether it be between Brother and Sister, husband and wife, county and county, state and state, country and country, somewhere you will find one or all of the Three Poisons at work to some degree or other. The Buddha knew this, as did Shinran and Rennyo and all the 7 Patriarchs’. Just because those who lived in the old days spoke of it does not mean that the Poisons no longer exist. They are alive and well and living inside us just waiting for the opportunity to take over. If you reflect on this you will see them.
Once you see and accept them, then you mostly have a choice as to whether you yield to them or not yield to them. In the heat of emotion though it is really easy to give in to them. Our mindfulness in this regard, is essential. That is why, on every statue, in every picture of the Buddha, you will see his eyes are half closed allowing him to see outward and to see inward. This is a reminder to us.
“Shaku, my mommy told me that I was a good little boy or girl all the time, ask her.” Yeah, so did mine, and it might have been somewhat true back in kid times, we are no longer children.
If we reflect on our lives and times honestly we will see those times when the Poisons took over, and while we can be, and should be remorseful about those occurrences’, we cannot see all the causes and conditions that brought that occurrence into being so we cannot really judge ourselves.
To come back to the present day though, we do not really think such a thing as the relocation camps could happen again. I want you to think back to the time when the restrictions on immigration were made for people of certain nationalities and the back lash on the folks from those restricted countries who have been living in this country for years, seeking what every immigrant to this country has sought, a better life.
Do you really think that there was no one in the government or outside the government who was thinking, “Those people should be put in camps.”
Greed, Anger(fear) Ignorance.
Reverend or Shaku?
Shaku Arthur Kaufmann
As some of you know I have requested that, if you want to address with a title, that you do so with the word “Shaku.”
I understand why the title, “Reverend” is and was used as a title for Shin ministers, especially after WW II, in an effort to make Jodoshinshu Buddhism appear less foreign to the general population; a practical move in light of the lingering prejudice after the war.
For me though, today, it is a question of definitions and I speak solely for myself here.
Reverend means, one who is to be “revered,” while Shaku, a Sanskrit word, means, “disciple of Buddha”. You might recognize the word from your Buddhist name if you have received one.
While my ego would dearly love to be “revered” and be “highly respected”,
I know that I am not worthy of such a title, this is not false modesty, this is fact.
I feel that such a title fosters separation between myself and the rest of the Sangha, as if I were someone special, I am not. I am, as Shinran put it, a dogyo or dobo, a fellow traveler on the Shinshu path. I am travelling with all of you as part of the Sangha.
I am not trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill here. I am not trying to start a movement or anything, nor do I think of myself as a monk, I am a Shin Buddhist priest.
Any respect I am afforded by anyone, I expect to earn, and not receive it just because I wear a black robe and wagesa. As far as any other ministers are concerned, I shall address them in which-ever form they are addressed.
I hope this clarifies why I chose, Shaku.
In Gassho, Art Kaufmann
Arthur J Kaufmann, Shaku Sho Ju
Arthur James Kaufmann was born and raised in New York City. He is the third of four children born to William and Roseanna Kaufmann.
After graduating from William Howard Taft High School at age 18, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and served eight years as a Supply Technician. He served one tour in Vietnam in 1966.
He received his Honorable Discharge from the Air Force in 1969 and returned to New York.
In 1975 Shaku Kaufmann moved to Denver, Colorado. While living and working in Denver Shaku Kaufmann began his study of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism at the Denver Tri-State Buddhist Temple under the guidance of Revs. Yoshitaki Tamai, Unryu Sugiyama, Harold Oda, Kanya Okamoto.
During his time in Denver he also began his study of the art of
Aikido at Nippon Kan Aikido Dojo under its’ head instructor and founder Sensei Gaku Homma of Akita Prefecture, Japan. He has received the fourth grade of the black belt and continues to practice.
Shaku Kaufmann moved to Hawaii in 1993 and married Ms. Judith Holland in 1995. Mrs. Holland achieved her internship in psychology with the VA and later taught at the Hawaii Pacific University, Kaneohe campus.
While studying for the Ministry, Shaku Kaufmann also attended Kapiolani Community College where he graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Art.
He received his Tokudo Ordination in 1994 at the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-Ha in Kyoto Japan under the sponsorship of the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Mission of Hawaii.
Shaku Kaufmann and his wife have five children between them and have ten grandchildren.
In 1999 his was assigned as a Ministerial Aide to the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin and served there for three and a half years under Rimbans Thomas Okano, Toshio Murakami and Rimban Muneto.
In February of 2003 Shaku Kaufmann left the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin to take the position of Resident Manager at BDK Sudatta Hawaii, the Society for the Promotion of Buddhism. He also worked as the distributor of the book, “The Teaching of Buddha” to hotels in Hawaii and Guam.
Shaku Kaufmann received his Kyoshi Certification on December 13th 2007 and has been assigned as Resident Minister for the Aiea Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii since Jan. 15th, 2009.
In 2013 Shaku Kaufmann was requested to take a position of Associate Minister at the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin, which is his present assignment. He has been there for about 5 years having worked under Rev. Muneto and the present Rimban Toyokazu Hagio.. Shaku Kaufmann’s next assignment will be at the Lihue Hongwanji Mission on Kauai starting July 15, 2018.
Messages from Rev. Takahashi