2008 YMA Hawaii Trip

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Reflections of Hawaii

The Week That Was by Samantha Nitta

As you may already know, the BCA Youth Ministers Assistants recently embarked on a journey with the mission of trying to find a new understanding in the world of Buddhism, learn about the Hawaii Kyodan, and also to spread the success of our programs to other Sanghas. We spent 8 days in Hawaii on the island of Oahu visiting various temples and we met a lot of new people in doing so. When you think of Hawaii your mind automatically shifts to fun and games at the beach, but this experience was much more for us. We were given the opportunity to be in the audience of some great voices in the Buddhist community and meet face to face with great ministers. Each of the speakers kept their stories and experiences relevant to our stay in Hawaii, providing us with valuable information that we can utilize on our Buddhistic journeys.

Rev. Muneto of the Buddhist Study Center told us to “study Buddhism with foot”. He said that Rev. Kodani travels to India walking the dirt paths that thousands before had traveled; learning about Buddhism and meeting different people doing the same. We were doing something similar, only with airplanes and minivans.

Rev. Kevin Kuniyaki of Wahiawa Hongwanji Mission explained to us that in life, “we’re going to mess up.” In life we always have to find this lesson out the hard way and we did just that many times on our trip. Whether it was: showing up for service late, going to get shaved ice instead of showing up for temple early or even swallowing a whole mouth full of salt water. We had to do things once to learn not to do them again. He also told us that we must ask ourselves, “what are my values as a Shin Buddhist?” In everything that we learned on the trip we had to assess and reassess our values as Jodo Shinshu Buddhists. With everything that we learned on the trip and from what we experienced with the BCA, we learn to look at our lives in a Buddhistic way and we see our values more clearly.

Another lesson given by Rev. Kuniyaki was, “sometimes you do not get what you expect.” Online we were provided with images that depicted our hotel much nicer than what we experienced. Definitely what we did not expect upon arrival given the images. He ended with saying, “Life is a journey; we need to figure things out.” As young Buddhists, most of us view the rest of our lives as a question mark. In the journey that we call life, we all face situations where we just “need to figure things out.”

Dr. George Tanabe was our second speaker. He taught us that we must ask ourselves, “what is the truth that applies to all.” Through YCA and this trip, we have tried to find ways to work at finding this truth and apply parts of it to our lives. He also told us that we need to, “be who you are.” We each were given the opportunity to go through the Youth Ministers Assistants program and a lot of us came out with an identity that we were not able to receive from simply going to church. We were given a deeper understanding of the teachings and a lot of us view it as having made Buddhism a bigger part of us.

Dr. Alfred Bloom told us that we “have to look at things carefully to see what they mean.” In Hawaii we adopted a lotus into our family by the name of Brandon. This lotus was given to us by Dr. Tanabe. We were given the opportunity to see the life cycle of this lotus and this gave us a better understanding of what the lotus means to Buddhism. He also said that “learning to ask a question is essential to our religion.” This was demonstrated to us best by the question and answer sessions that we were able to have with both the Oahu and Honolulu district Sanghas. In these sessions, Sangha members were given the opportunity to ask questions about us and our program in order to see how they could make their own youth programs more successful.

He told us that we need to “see where the truth might lie for you.” This also applies to the journey that we make as Buddhists. We have to apply the truth we find to our lives and see where it lies for us.

In the end Moiliili Honganji’s Sangha left us with part of a song saying that we should, “spread a little Amida around the world.” Our whole trip ended with us having the opportunity to take home all that we have learned to our own Sanghas and do exactly that, “spread a little Amida around the world.”

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