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

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Building Foundations: What is Religion?

What Does it Mean to Be Religious?


Before entering into a discussion on Buddhism, I think it is important to take a step back and reflect on Buddhism within the context of religion. I recently heard a speaker assert that neither the historical Buddha Sakyamuni nor Shinran Shonin, considered the founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, were religious. It is my opinion that for Buddhism to make sense, in addition to examining the validity of the speaker's statement, that we first examine the fundamental building blocks of religion.

What is Religion?

Religion is the various ways in which people express and respond to that which they affirm as being of unrestricted value to them. People who are religious therefore, are those who act upon this definition by expressing and responding to what they affirm as being of unrestricted value to themselves.

Let's take Buddhism as an example. What was of unrestricted value to the historical Buddha, Sakyamuni? It was the release from the seemingly never-ending cycle of suffering and sorrow. How did he respond to what he held as being of unrestricted value to him? After trying various forms of religious practice and studying the sacred texts of religions of his day, he meditated and awakened to the process of the arising of and the path through which one can attain the cessation of suffering. How did he respond to what he awakened to? He responded to what he awakened to after having been convinced that he should spread the content of his enlightenment for the benefit of all people. He did so by expounding the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold path. He also taught the path of the Nembutsu so that all people may have the possibility to attain enlightenment.

What was of unrestricted value to Shinran Shonin? Of unrestricted value to Shinran Shonin was awakening to and entrusting in the Infinite Wisdom and Compassion of Amida Buddha; that is, expressing the means through which all people could attain enlightenment. How did he respond to what he held as being of unrestricted value to him? He earnestly sought out and listened to the teachings of Honen Shonin and through the practice of Amida Buddha, attained Shinjin, often defined as true entrusting or awakening. How did Shinran respond to what he awakened to? By first establishing the foundation of the Teachings, and then spreading the Nembutsu Teachings whose essence he traced through seven Pure Land masters. Of utmost emphasis is the recitation of the Name, Namu-Amida-Butsu in grateful response for Amida Buddha's infinite compassion and wisdom.

Were Sakyamuni Buddha and Shinran Shonin religious? Of course they were. What is it that you affirm of being of unrestricted value to you? Through what means do you express that? And how do you respond? Until next time.

Rev. Bryan Masashi Siebuhr

Rev. Daido Baba                                                                 

 A Wish-Fulfilling Buddha and a Wish-Non-Fulfilling Buddha

          We, Jodo Shinshu followers, worship Amida Buddha. Do you know what Amida Buddha is? Does Amida Buddha grant your wish? Does Amida make everyone’s wishes come true? Have you ever felt that Amida Buddha makes your wishes come true?

           Amida Buddha doesn’t grant our selfish wishes. On the other hand, Amida Buddha embraces us every time. Here, I’d like to give an example about a wish-fulfilling Buddha and a wish-non-fulfilling Buddha.

          Once upon a time, a Buddhist monk arrived at a village. The village was not rich but the villagers treated that monk with a warm welcome. The monk appreciated their warm hospitality and gave them two Buddha’s statues as a gift. One was a wish-fulfilling Buddha‘s statue. The other one was a wish-non-fulfilling Buddha’s statue.  Then he said, “It is good for all of you to pray to the wish-non-fulfilling Buddha’s statue.” When the monk left, the people began to pray to both statues.  After a while, the villagers prayed only to the wish-fulfilling Buddha’s statue because that Buddha fulfilled people’s wishes. People could get everything without any effort or hard work. Serious illnesses were healed. Everybody could live in a big house.   In addition to this, people asked to be granted more and more wishes. Besides that, people wished evil on to others like “I hope someone gets sick” or “I wish my neighbor loses big money”.  People’s outlook changed and they did not trust others. They worried about what others’ wishes would do to themselves. So in the village arguments and fighting constantly happened.

     At that time, the Buddhist monk who gave those statutes visited the village again. He said, “That’s why, I told you before.  It is good for all of you to pray to the wish-non-fulfilling Buddha’s statue.” The villagers then realized the true meaning of his words. After that, they took good care of the wish-non-fulfilling Buddha’s statue. The village became poor again but people worked hard and became wholesome.  They believed in each other and helped others. The village became a happy place again.

     What do you think? At first you may think that having a wish-fulfilling Buddha is good. But our wishes are endless. And like this story we may wish for other’s unhappiness. We may get material wealth but we cannot be truly rich.

     A wish-non-fulfilling Buddha doesn’t grant people’s wish. But, that Buddha watches over us and is teaching us what being truly human really is. Our Buddha, Amida Buddha is also like that. Always, anywhere, at any time, Amida Buddha is with you and is watching over you.  Most of all, Amida Buddha accepts you just as you are.

     Amida Buddha wants us to become aware of ourselves as human beings. We should realize our foolish self. We can get up every morning. We have Ohana, family and friends, who take care of us. We have food to eat every day. That is enough and that is a wonderful thing! Please think about this every morning when you get up. Then your life may change and be more radiant and special. In so doing, you can appreciate each day and live happily.

     Namo Amida Butsu.


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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.