Feb. 12, 2017 Sermon

Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, will live to be an important day in American history. Three
federal judges of the 9th Circuit Court passed down a decision in favor of the plaintiff, the
state of Washington, in maintaining a stay on the president’s executive order to prevent
refugees from seven Arab nations to enter the United States. The significance of this appeal
is that even the president, whether it is an issue involving a matter of national security to
which the president has great latitude, cannot breach basic principles of ethnic, racial, or
religious freedom that are clearly protected in our constitution.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson took the daunting challenge of
defying the president’s travel ban because he felt that, “the future of the Constitution [was]
at stake.” This victory for Attorney General Bob Ferguson was for everyone in the United
States at a time when the principles of democracy, and the sacredness of the rule of law had
become very fragile.

In a time when the United States is polarized, I felt that this event reconfirmed the
importance of maintaining our values and principles. This is important to me, because
whenever there is a problem, we must look to our common values, which should stand taller
than any one person or one particular group’s singular agenda. Just as the team is more
important than any one individual, there must be a common underlying spirit that acts as a
bond between people, to urge everyone to reach higher goals.

In our case, I would like to remind you that we are all in pursuit of the Buddha’s
enlightenment. We are here together because we all seek to follow the Buddha’s lofty
principles. Why? Because we all want to understand each other, live with each other, and
make our world a better place for all. While the teachings and practices of the Buddha are
readily available to each of us, it can only serve as a guiding light to find our way through a
complex and entangled world if we embrace the basic principles upon which it stands.
Problems arise when we detach ourselves from the Buddha and or his core teachings. In
other words, when we lose faith in the Buddha, we are apt to lose our direction, affecting us
in various negative ways.

Depending on the person, losing sight of one’s principles can adversely create an
imbalance of what is right or wrong. Let us take the Middle Way, for example. Veering
away from the middle way may cause one to lose their sense of moderation in their dealings
with others. Perhaps, it can result in one becoming anxious or combative. The principle of
constantly finding a compromise needs to be placed on a higher level, than something such
as your own personal agenda, for example. We each pursue the Buddha’s enlightenment
differently, but we should not lose sight of the fundamental principles of the Buddha. Just
as we, citizens of America, ought to protect and defend our core principles of democracy,
we as Buddhists must hold dear the basic principles of Buddhism. In a sense, knowing and
practicing the core of what is Buddhism is by itself an expression of faith. Upholding its
principles will eventually lead to the principles saving you. (Eisei Ikenaga)