Placer Buddhist Church

3192 Boyington RoadPenryn, CA. 95663(916) 652-6139

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A Dharma Message by Rev. Candice Shibata

“When I asked the master, ‘Even when I say the Nembutsu, I cannot really say that I feel like dancing for joy. And I find that I am in no hurry to get to the Pure Land.’ ” [1]

The above quotation is from the Tannisho (#9) known as the Lamentations of Divergences and is thought to have been written by a disciple of Shinran Shonin’s named Yuien. Yuien recalled and wrote down the conversations that he had with Shinran to address some of the doctrinal disagreements that were occurring following Shinran’s passing.

During this particular discussion, Yuien admits to Shinran that his faith does not elicit joy and he is not yet ready to leave his earthly life. He wondered and asked Shinran, how is this so? Instead of chastising his disciple for such a candid question and expression of doubt, Shinran admitted that he too has had this same doubt as well. Facing my own perilous emergency in the past, the above passage from the Tannisho quickly came to my mind.

While I was in Kyoto in 2015 and almost halfway through my Kyoshi certification session at Nishiyama Betsuin, I indulged in a much-needed dessert following one our meals. Since desserts were rarely given to us, I looked at our group leader to silently inquire if I could safely eat the tofu-like pudding since my group was aware of my severe tree nut allergy. He gave me reassurance that it was safe to eat since we were required to eat in silence and, before I realized it, I inhaled my individual serving of pudding. Almost immediately, I began to panic as I felt a slight itchiness and tightness in my throat. Shortly after, we were dismissed and I asked our translator if he could verify the ingredients in our dessert, which were not written on the container or case it came in, but was quickly researched on his cell phone. Sure enough, the pudding contained ALMOND extract!

My allergic reaction began quickly and the staff was notified of my emergency. Although my condition was serious, I initially thought that I did not want to go to the hospital since I did not have medical insurance while I was in Japan. I was reassured not to worry and I soon heard the ambulance on its way to the temple. As I ran to collect my medications in my room, other students, including Rev. Matt Hamasaki were downstairs waiting for me. Before I left, I walked over to Rev. Matt and put my head on his shoulder as he hugged me and stated that everything would be okay and I would be returning soon. It was at that moment that I began to cry as the fright and reality set in that I may not return.

I was treated immediately as I arrived at the hospital for anaphylaxis due to my severe allergic reaction. As the doctor and nurses attended to my care, I began to think about my family back home and wondered if I would see them again. This may seem like an irrational thought, but due to the quickness and severity of my reaction, I was quite scared. I turned to my translator who accompanied me and asked him to contact Rev. Kiyonobu Kuwahara to assist in informing my father of my condition. I began to tear up as I thought about my dad and the worry that he may feel when he received the news that his daughter was in distress thousands of miles away.

In my panic I thought that I was too young to leave this world, especially during a time in my life when I encountered the Dharma in such a way that it had changed my life completely and led me to Japan to continue with my ordination. I thought about my family and friends back home as well and how much I missed them at that moment and longed to see them. I too had doubts of what would happen to me if I died and if I would be born in the Pure Land.

Luckily, I survived this ordeal and am able to write about it today. What this experience showed me is that impermanence can strike at any moment, no matter of how old I am, where I am, and who I am with. However, Tannisho #9 and Yuien and Shinran Shonin’s admissions of their own uncertainty reassured me that my own doubt and clinging to this life was in fact, human nature. As Dr. Bloom further noted, “…the fear of the unknown and attachment to the pleasures we experience in life overwhelm our supposed belief in paradise.”[2] Shinran further reassured Yuien that he was not alone with these anxieties and because he had them, they were signs that he was true in his faith of Amida Buddha’s great wisdom and compassion.

It has been reassuring to know that even Shinran faced some anxieties of his own. Through the Tannisho, we are given a glimpse into the authentic and candid nature of our founder, which allows Jodo Shinshu Buddhism to continue to resonate with us today.

In Gassho,

Rev. Candice Shibata

[1] Alfred Bloom, Strategies for Modern Living: A Commentary with the Text of the Tannisho (Berkeley: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 1992), 8.

[2] Bloom, 91.

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.