Minister's Corner

Rimban Shindo Nishiyama
Buddha said, “We were born alone, come alone, and leave alone.” This sounds a little sad or negative; however, this is a very strong message for us to live by in this real life: In Japanese, “ICHIGO ICHIE”; in English, “One life time and one meeting”.
  There is a first meeting and there is a last meeting because life is impermanent. However we have the Onembutsu, which we can recite anytime and anywhere with everyone.

The Nembutsu is given by Amida Buddha’s Infinite Wisdom and Compassion to all living beings without any conditions. Shinran Shonin said, “The Nembutsu is true and real.” When we were born, the Buddha’s mind also began with us. It stayed with us, lived together and went together wherever we went. We were not  born  alone  nor  do  we live alone. The Nembutsu, “Namoamidabutsu”, is always living together with you and me anytime and anywhere, like our mother’s love.

I am often asked about the Nembutsu, Namoamidabutsu.  Most people ask, “Sensei, why do we recite the Nembutsu? Or, “What does the Nembutsu mean?”

Do you remember when you first said, “Mother, or Mom, or Mommy, or Okaasan?” When we call “Mom”, there is no question who we are calling.

“Mother” is understood by everyone. We have our own memories about our mothers.  The word “mother” brings loving care, sad tears, delicious bentos, cheerful smiles, and encouragement. We remember with a deep sense of gratitude. Someone told me that when he was in the service in WWII, he found that most soldiers, upon facing death in the battlefield, called out,  “Mom!” before they died. (Sorry but they didn’t call their wives). They all wanted their Mom or they wanted to have their moms as they faced death.

Jikoen Hongwanji’s long time very dedicated member, Mr. Kiyuna passed away on January 1, 2017. Last year in March, I was called by his daughter, Joyce, to visit  Mr. Kiyuna because he wasn’t eating, and the doctor told her Mr. Kiyuna has only a few days to live. So I went to see him and conducted bedside service with chanting. He was sleeping, but when I held his hands, he woke up and looked at me and said, “Sensei, I don’t go yet. I still have jobs at Jikoen”.

The day before he passed away, he told Joyce, “Mom is coming”, so she thought he meant his wife, Sally, so she said,  “ Mom is here”. But he said, “No big Mom is coming to me”.

The Nembutsu is like our “Mom, Mommy, Mama, and Okaasan” for everyone to say or recite easily anytime and anywhere.  When we recite, Namoamidabutsu, full of compassion and unending vows come to us.

We were born alone, come alone, and die alone, but my life and your life are always embraced by Amida Buddha’s great Compassion and Infinite Light and Life. We just recite Onembutsu with deep gratitude and receive it as we are. Namoamidabutsu has every- thing that we need. It’s the calling of the name, which is the path to be reborn into Nirvana. 

As your new Rimban, I am looking forward to seeing all of you Hilo Hongwanji Betsuin members and friends at our Sunday Service. Aloha and Mahalo in Gassho,


Rev. Bryan Siebuhr

Follow Rev.B@bsiebuhr on Twitter or on his website:


To attend temple services is to listen to the Dharma so we may realize the fulfillment of the purpose of Buddhism; that is, the attainment of enlightenment.  Though this seems rather simple and straightforward to imagine or reflect upon, to deeply actualize this and make it the true center of one's life regardless of any circumstances you encounter is completely different and its depth cannot be expressed in words.  For Buddhism to be a living religion, one who practices and the teachings must be one in the same.  Living religion is therefore not what is written in sacred scriptures; it is only what people practice and how they manifest the ideals of religion in their daily lives toward friends and enemies alike on a moment to moment basis.

Let us take this quote from The Collected Works of Shinran, found on page 93 where Shinran quotes from his teacher Honen's “Essential for Attaining Birth” as our guide:

“Suppose there is a person who possesses a potion that renders him indestructible, so that his foes and adversaries are denied any means of harming him.  The Bodhisattva Mahasattva is like this.  When he has gained the dharma-elixir of indestructibility – the mind aspiring for enlightenment – no blind passions, no maras or adversaries, are able to defeat him. 

A man who wears the ornament of gems that keeps one from drowning can enter into deep waters without sinking and expiring.  One who has acquired the gem that prevents drowning – the mind aspiring for enlightenment – enters the ocean of birth-and-death but does not succumb. 

As a diamond may be immersed in water for one hundred thousand kalpas without destruction or alteration, so is the mind aspiring for enlightenment, which may be submerged in all the karma of blind passions in birth-and-death for endless kalpas, and yet cannot be damaged or destroyed.”

In Gassho

Byran Masashi Siebuhr, Associate Minister


Rev. Daido Baba                                                                 

You are Not Alone; You are Never Alone

          Four years have passed since I moved to Hilo and was assigned to Hilo Betsuin.  How quickly time flies! However, because of the support and kindness from temple members and friends, I haven’t felt lonely or sad. I am grateful that I have a big ‘ohana here. In your life, you may sometimes feel lonely or sad when you experience painful separation such as friends or family moving away or passing of a loved one. When such feelings arise, Jodo Shinshu teachings give you the support and power to live your daily life.

     In order to understand the help Jodo Shinshu gives you, I’d like to share the Japanese poem entitled “Hitori ja nakamon” written by Mrs. Kina Sato. She was a devout Hongwanji member of Shinko-ji temple in Saga Prefecture, Kyushu. From the time she was young, she had listened to the Dharma messages many times and rejoiced in living in the Nembutsu teaching. She lost her husband in the war and raised five boys by herself. All her sons moved to Tokyo. Therefore, in her later years, she lived by herself. You may think she felt alone. However, she didn’t feel that way. Do you know why? She wrote the poem “Hitori ja nakamon” to express her everyday feelings. When you read this poem, you can understand the reason. The title “Hitori ja nakamon” means “I’m not alone.” In this poem, the reason that she didn’t feel the loneliness is clearly shown.


1, I am not alone. I eat breakfast together with the Buddha.

2, I am not alone. I enjoy talking story with the Buddha.

3, I am not alone. I tell the Buddha about my complaints and dissatisfaction.

4, I am not alone. The Buddha agrees with me with a smile.

5, I am not alone. I sleep embraced in the Buddha’s compassionate Futon.

6, I am not alone. I greet the morning of Great Compassion with the Buddha.

7, I am not alone. I bow to the boundless light with the Buddha.

8, I am not alone. I am honored to place my hands together to the Buddha.


     In this poem, the Buddha means Amida Buddha. She tells us that she is always with Amida Buddha and living together with Amida Buddha. Since she listened to many Dharma messages, she knows Amida Buddha is always with her. Throughout the morning and into the night, all day long, her life was with Amida Buddha. That’s why the title of this poem is “Hitori ja nakamon” which means “I am not alone.” She never felt alone because she lived in the Nembutsu path. I can imagine Mrs. Sato saying good morning and good night to the Buddha every day. Not only that but she also talked a lot to the Buddha throughout the day.

     “Buddha” in this poem means “Amida Buddha”, but it also means “Her loved ones who passed away.” A deceased person becomes a Buddha through Amida Buddha’s working and continues to work for and embrace us.  After your loved one passes away, you can still have the connection with the deceased person as a helpful Buddha. So I believe that Mrs. Sato was also thinking of her loved ones, her parents and husband.  Those feelings are included in this poem. She felt she was always with them, embraced by them, and doing all those things together. She didn’t feel alone. She was never alone. That thinking absolutely gave her power to live everyday. Her life was supported by the Buddha and her loved ones. She realized this and showed her appreciation in the last line of her poem, “I am not alone. I am honored to place my hands together to the Buddha.”

     Do you feel this kind of connection with the Buddha and the protection from your loved ones? Even if you don’t realize it, Amida Buddha and your loved ones are guiding and illuminating you toward a happy and fulfilling life. 

     Although we take for granted waking up in the morning, passing the time during the day, and going to bed every day, these are precious moments that are granted to us through Amida Buddha’s compassion and love. Together with Amida, your loved ones as Buddhas are working to guide you to happiness. We are receiving a precious life, HERE and NOW. Let’s live together with the Buddha, realizing and appreciating the workings of the Buddhas. We are not alone. We are never alone. When you realize this, you can receive the power to live each moment fully in appreciation. Namo Amida Butsu. 


There are basic ways to let others know who we are, who to contact and what our situation is, etc., in case of an emergency in the event we cannot communicate our needs. This is especially true for elders and those with medical challenges living alone. Here are some suggestions c/o of our Project Dana we should always have in our wallet or bag another can go to immediately in an emergency:

1. Photo Identification

2. Medicare/Insurance card(s)

3. Medical Prescription Drug card

4. Emergency Contact Name(s) & Phone

5. Doctor’s Name & Phone 

6. List of Medication(s) & dosages (include OTC)

7. Allergies to drug(s), others

If such items can be put TOGETHER in a laminated jacket so anyone needing the information won’t have to look all over for them, it would be certainly helpful. Let a capable family member or advocate help you keep these items together and readily accessible to those who need to know. One day at a time – take care.

Contact the ministers

Contact information: Office phone: 961-6677

Cell phones for emergencies only:

Rev. Bryan Siebuhr: 339-5250

all our office at 961-6677 for arrangements.