Placer Buddhist Church

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

January 2021

New Year, Same Stuff

Perhaps you’ve heard me bring up this story before, but that's OK. I believe that repetition is the best way to learn (which is maybe another thing you’ll hear me repeat a lot!). When I was in high school, I used to walk home when school was over. It was a couple miles up the hilly landscape of Berkeley and I would see interesting things as I leisurely made my way back to my house. Sometimes it was people doing different things, sometimes it was businesses selling uncommon items.

For this particular story, I saw a bit of what could be described as graffiti written on the side of one of those cabinets that you see next to traffic signals – the ones that must house various control boards and wires (although I’ve never opened one up so as far as I know, it could be just a bunch of elves pushing buttons). Along with various stickers and tagging, there, scribbled on the cabinet, was the phrase “There is no such thing as time - only watches.” And this made me begin to think about what exactly that meant and what the purpose of writing that down on this box that was owned by the city to keep traffic flowing.

For whatever reason, that has stuck with me and will probably continue to be with me for as long as I can remember that far back. It was turning and turning inside my brain because I found it profound -- that the concept of time is completely created by humans in order to create some kind of structure and organization. I think we can all agree that there are purposes to how we conceptualize certain aspects of time passing -- that we have a day and a night, that there are four seasons as the earth makes one revolution around the sun. But the decision to create seconds, minutes, hours, and deciding how many make up each one is completely arbitrary.

This being said, I think we all had a difficult 2020. That is not to say that there were not good and happy things that also happened, but we have been challenged both as a community and as individuals like we have not been in the last 100 years. However, to think that it will all magically change when we start writing down a different date would be a mistake. The problems that existed in 2020 will exist in 2021. This may seem like a pessimistic view of the New Year, but in my personal Buddhistic outlook, I feel that it is freeing.

On the surface level, it seems like there are new challenges that we face every year. But deep down, the issues that we have are the same that we had last year, the same that we’ve had for the past 2,000 years. We are too consumed by selfishness and do not act with enough compassion. And if this is the same problem, to me it’s freeing because we don’t have anything new to worry about! We can continue focusing on how to confront and accept our imperfect selves. So, I hope that in this new year we recognize that, while we may have to go and buy a new calendar, we still continuously have the responsibility to look at ourselves and try to practice a little more kindness.

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.