Placer Buddhist Church

3192 Boyington RoadPenryn, CA. 95663(916) 652-6139
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Celebrate the New Year

Chicken Teriyaki & Chow Mein

Order form can be found here or on the Forms page

Deadline to order: Tuesday, December 7

A Dharma Message by Rev. Matthew Hamasaki

November 2021

It’s November and that means that, near the end of the month, just about everyone will be participating in some sort of tradition that revolves around what we call “Thanksgiving.” More often than not, this includes consuming, in some shape or form, some turkey – the bird most heavily associated with the holiday. There is plenty to talk about when it comes to turkey -- how you cook it, what you put in it, what part of it do you like, etc. And occasionally the topic will come up that eating turkey will make you sleepy, which is why most people end up taking a nap following the Thanksgiving meal.

This is because turkey contains the amino acid called L-tryptophan. Amino acids are the “building blocks” for proteins and so they make up our own muscles as well as other vital parts of the body. When we eat turkey meat, it is the muscle of the bird and so it is also made up of amino acids. Why L-tryptophan has taken the blame for people being sleepy is that, when this particular amino acid gets absorbed in the digestive system and makes its way to the brain, it turns into a different chemical called serotonin, which aids in calming us down and helping us sleep.

However! Scientists now know that L-tryptophan can only make a person tired immediately if it is taken by itself – without any other amino acids. Turkey, of course, is made up of other amino acids and so it could not possibly be the cause for why people fall asleep after their meals. What most scientists now believe is the reason for the sleepiness following the Thanksgiving feast is that people eat so much that the stomach needs more blood flow to handle the extra load. This means less blood in other places, like the brain, which causes us to get drowsy.

The way we have scapegoated L-tryptophan as the reason for our drowsiness when the true culprit is our own eating habits is just like how we search for an external source to blame for our troubles in life when, truly, it is us that is causing our own suffering. It is human nature for us to absolve ourselves of any responsibility, but the Buddha is like these scientists trying to teach us that it is our own habits that cause us unhappiness. When we take a hard look at our behaviors and how we think, we can recognize that we cling to any form of thinking that will protect our image of ourselves. It can be quite frightening to shatter that false mirror, though if we can, with the encouragement of the Buddha, we can see how to let go of that perception and realize our true selves. Taking control of our lives, we can begin creating the habits that keep ourselves accountable and thus, while not always giving us the most hoped for scenario, always giving us the most satisfaction. Even if it is accepting the fact that the reason we will be sprawled out snoring on the couch at 3 o’clock in the afternoon began with our very own decision to eat the extra plate when we were already full.

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.