Placer Buddhist Church

3192 Boyington RoadPenryn, CA. 95663(916) 652-6139
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A Dharma Message by Rev. Matthew Hamasaki

December 2020

I had read somewhere from someone who worked in linguistics that most misunderstandings that people have is from their different definitions of the same word. To me, this seemed like a too simplistic understanding of conflict that could be easily attributed to problems, but just as easily dismissed. Of course (in my internal dialogue as I said to myself), our issues run much deeper than merely semantics. There are plenty of deep-seeded experiences and emotions, as well as multiple narratives that can tangle up interactions.

Just as I had said that, it seemed as though I had challenged the universe and it decided to make itself known in a real way in my life, specifically my Buddhist studies. While I had been looking over the translation of the Juseige, one line stood out to me as confusing, and I could not put together what the meaning was. The line and the preceding line are “having attained Buddhahood untainted/My august air shall illumine the ten quarters.”

The particular phrase that confounded me was “august air.” Looking at the Chinese from which it originates, this had to come from three of the five characters in the line 威, 曜, or 朗. The first character could mean “authority, dignity, or majesty,” the second character could mean “dazzling brightness,” and the third could mean “bright, clear, or cheerful.” None of these brought to mind the image of a breeze in the eighth month of the year. I looked up a different definition, and it claimed the line translation should be “When merits and virtues are perfected/My majestic light shall radiate in the ten quarters” which, according to my research, would fit perfectly with the Chinese.

Still, the translation bothered me. Why was it talking about a gaseous substance at the end of summer? It just so happened that I was also looking into the Kojiki, one of the oldest texts known in Japan. In it, there is a deity named Ame-no-Minakanushi, which supposedly means "Lord of the August Center of Heaven.” Again, with the august! So, I looked up what the character, 御, for august meant and it was an honorific prefix, which was defined as, you guessed it -- august. It then hit me that there might be another definition of august than the month! I looked it up and sure enough, august meant respected and impressive. And I knew that in that context, there is another definition for “air” - an impression of a quality or manner attributed to something or someone. So really, the two translations were basically the same. And thus, by my own hand, I was taught how the definition of words really can be the root of misunderstandings.

In Gassho,

Rev. Matt

The Placer Buddhist Church is located at 3192 Boyington Road in Penryn California, County of Placer. It is located at the scenic base of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains just off Interstate 80. It is approximately half way between San Francisco and Reno, Nevada.

The Church was founded in 1902 in the small foothills town of Penryn. The original church was near the center of town approximately 3 miles from its current location. The church moved to its current location in approximately 1963. The church is well known in the community for the annual food bazaar which is always held on the 4th weekend of September. The annual food bazaar started in 1964, just after the church moved to the new location.

The church supports many organizations such as the Placer Buddhist Women’s Association (PBWA), Young Buddhist Association (YBA), Sierra Bonsai Club, Dharma School, and Placer Ume Taiko Groups. The church also holds various classes during the week including calligraphy, flower arranging, Tai Chi, Obon dancing and exercise classes. See the church calendar for class times.