Placer Buddhist Church

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

I am writing this article on the day that is Canadian Thanksgiving, which is like the American Thanksgiving in some respects, but is quite different in other ways. For example, it is celebrated in October instead of November. While the month is different, they both share the general time of year – Autumn -- because that is the period following the harvesting of crops. Of course, there are other stories and history that come along with it, including when it was declared a national holiday at the same time every year by Abraham Lincoln.

Before that, Thanksgiving was celebrated, but the uniformity both yearly and on which date was inconsistent across state lines. President Lincoln proclaimed it a holiday in response to a letter written by Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor calling for it to be a permanent national custom. Lincoln delivered this proclamation during the American Civil War, eloquently stating that although there was much suffering felt by the citizens because of the conflict, the harvest among other things was still bountiful. Being a good, faithful Christian man, he stated that this was not from the efforts of any mortal but rather that, “they are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

He continued to ask that along with thanks for God’s benevolence, to be remorseful of the violence committed and to ask for his care in healing those who lost loved ones in the war, as well as to heal the wounds of the nation. And thus, our tradition of observing Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November became a reality.

As Buddhists, we often speak of gratitude, and Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity for us to truly reflect on what we can be grateful for. While we don’t necessarily always identify with the same concept of God that President Lincoln was referring to, I believe that we share the same recognition that we are the recipient of gifts that are greater than any mortal efforts. It may be difficult for some to see this since it is so effortless to just go to the grocery store, but to reap the harvest which is based on elemental factors under which you have no control is truly awe-inspiring. While I was in the Central Valley, I noticed that many of the farmers liked to go to casinos and gamble. When I inquired as to why, I was told, “This is just for fun. Try risking your entire income on the year’s crop. That’s real gambling.”

Sometimes the convenience of the times makes us forget how lucky we are to have such abundance of food at our fingertips. However, if we stop to realize how reliant we are on the air we breathe and the land we exist on, we see how grateful we should actually be all the time -- not just in our hearts, but in our actions as we make choices of how we live and who we support. This includes following the example of the important farmers who learn to work together with the environment ensuring that there will continue to be plentiful harvests for generations to come. Not all of us are capable of living such a lifestyle, but we can do our part and support those who lead the way.

In Gassho,

Rev. Matt

The Placer Buddhist Church is located at 3192 Boyington Road in Penryn California, County of Placer. It sits at the 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 Group. The church also holds various classes during the week including calligraphy, flower arranging, Tai Chi and exercise classes. See the church calendar for class times.