Placer Buddhist Church

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

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A Dharma Message by Rev. Matthew Hamasaki

December 2022

In December, we are observing Bodhi Day, or the day that the Buddha attained enlightenment. Explaining exactly what enlightenment is can be quite difficult for people, myself included, as we have not experienced it. It is expressed in

different ways, like awakening to true reality, or achieving Nirvana. It may be helpful to look at the term the Buddha used and how it relates to what he felt.

Nirvana literally means “extinguishing of a fire.” Initially, this may seem like an awful thing if we personify the fire as a living being and to put it out would be to annihilate its existence. However, the way the Buddha saw it, the fire was

bound by, trapped by its fuel source. Flames were anxious, dependent on its fuel. And should the fire release its fuel, it would be free; released from its dependence and entrapment. Of course, the question then becomes “what happens to the flame,” but the Buddha countered instead to think of the indescribability of a fire that doesn’t burn.

Either way, when thinking about Nirvana in terms of our own lives, as Jodo Shinshu Buddhists, we don’t believe that it’s achievable in this lifetime. That being said, it is still something to work towards. We are all flames and our fuel is our desire, passion, delight, and craving. We more than just feed on it; we cling to it. But just as a fire grows when you pile on more fuel, so too does our suffering increase the more we try to satiate it with more things.

Then, what is to be done? We have to let go. Let go to the unwholesome craving which leads us to more suffering. With the release, what is left is calm, independent, and unattached. A peaceful tranquility from the stresses of this world. And while we cannot achieve this fully, permanently, we can still find peace through our practice.

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.