Welcome to the Nichiren Shu Temple site of Portland Oregon!

 Join us in service at the Treasure Tower Temple of Portland Oregon.  All forms of Buddhism and all religions are invited to participate and ask questions. Sunday service is at 10 am and followed by social hour which includes tea and food.  Please check the Monthly Calendar for event times and days.

 

Where Can We Meet the Buddha?

In today's world it has become increasingly difficult to encounter the Buddha, someone whose very presence inspires peace and love in the depths of one's being. The Lotus Sutra tells us that the Buddha is among us now, just as he was present with the assembly at Mt. Sacred Eagle thousands of years ago. If so, why can't we see him? Why can we not feel his presence? Is it because we have never truly searched? The lotus Sutra tells us to seek the Buddha with all our hearts, even at the cost of our lives. With whole hearted dedication and sincerity, we open our eyes to the life of the Buddha that has been hidden from us behind the transient joys and sorrows of daily life. Do we really have a sincere desire to come into the presence of the Buddha? If so, then that desire should be acted upon and expressed. To make that possible, the Nichiren Order invite you to participate in its Sunday services and other activities, so that together we may see and encounter the Buddha.

 

Where Can We Learn the Dharma?

In today's society, many people are unaware that 2,500 years ago Sakyamuni Buddha explained that hard realities of life and the inner poisons that prevent us from finding any lasting self-fulfillment. The Buddha taught the way to liberate ourselves from this turmoil while creating harmony in our daily lives.

Many people today are unaware of the Merits of the teachings [Dharma] of the Buddha. They engage in alternative solutions to their problems. These solutions range from the conventional to the desperate. Some people try to solve their problems through medical and physical therapy, while others try to find a solution in the form of drug or alcohol abuse. However, very few discover and embrace the gentle wisdom of the Dharma. In the Lotus Sutra, Sakyamuni Buddha specifically entrusted the Dharma to us. In this age of spiritual confusion and emptiness we must incorporate the Dharma into our live as well as assist others to do the same. The Nichiren Order invites everyone to come to the Temple for Sunday morning services and other activities to discover the Dharma for themselves.

 

Where Can we Join the Sangha?

Many Buddhists think of the Sangha as referring only to the Buddhist clergy. Sakyamuni Buddha, however, considered the Sangha to be those who actually transform their lives by living in accordance with the Dharma. the Sangha consists of all those who in the effort to attain Buddha hood, assist all sentient beings in doing the same. Joining the Sangha does not mean that one must be a monk or a nun. All that is needed is a sincere aspiration for enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. When many people come together to encourage each other and to share in this aspiration, a genuine spiritual community is created. This is the Sangha which brings real benefit to the world. Nichiren Order recognizes this need for a genuine spiritual community and invites you to participate in the Sangha through participation in its Sunday services and other activities.

Dharma:

Text from the Nichiren Order of North America


On Jan. 19, 2018, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) found a driver passed out in his Tesla with a very high blood alcohol content on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. The driver told CHP that he had set the car on “autopilot”. The highway patrol officer was not impressed. He arrested the driver and charged him with suspicion of driving under the influence. Apparently, the car was sent to the tow yard. To this, CHP assured everyone on Twitter that, “no, it didn’t drive itself to the tow yard.”


To have complete faith in Tesla’s autopilot sounds understandable as technology improves. But, how capable the car is in driving on its own at this point of the technology is certainly dubious. The fact, though, is that manufacturers are seriously developing self-driving cars. In some ways, machines are more reliable than humans in doing repetitive tasks. In fact, some things like landing a space shuttle can only be safely accomplished by a computer. I am sure that at some point, developers will create a car that is dependable. But, what happens when there is an accident? Is it fair to blame everything on the automobile or the auto maker? Surely, some fault will go to drivers who put their cars on autopilot, wouldn’t it?


I thought about the recent accident involving the Amtrak train carrying GOP members last on Wednesday morning, Jan. 31, 2018. House and Senate Republicans, and their families, and staff members were on their way from Washington to West Virginia where they had a retreat, when the train collided with a garbage truck. A passenger of the truck was killed, and others were injured. None of the GOP entourage was injured. Whose fault is this? It is still too early to know, but one could imagine many causes. Was the garbage truck on the track illegally? Was the traffic light faulty? Did the operator of the train fail to stop? Is it a speeding violation? Did the brakes give out? I am sure that there are many more related questions, but let us agree that the people riding the train, including the many GOP members, are merely passengers, and have little control over the train itself. Everything is left to the train operator. Passengers also ride the train with the assumption that it is well maintained. Almost all the control is left beyond one’s reach. In this sense, and though it is a bit far-fetched, can we say that the passengers have the train on autopilot? Is there someone who protects us when we are on autopilot?


As you know, our lives are impacted by what happens around us as much as we try to control it. Let me introduce a story about the Buddha. This comes from a sutra called, Kengu-kyo, and is a story about the “Lamp of a Poor Woman”. The people of a town heard that the Buddha would be visiting them in the evening to offer a sermon. This is 2500 years ago during the Buddha’s time, when there is no electricity. People used oil lamps for lighting. So, people decided to purchase and made offerings of oil lamps for the Buddha’s sermon. A variety of lamps were available. Interestingly, this ensued in a range of motivation for purchasing differing lamps. Most people bought lamps just because others did. Others were competitive, and bought ones that they thought would garner special attention from the Buddha. Still others purchased large and ornate lamps that showcased how wealthy they were. Many people bought oil lamps, which all contributed to make the lecture hall as bright as day. Finally, there was a woman who wished only to hear the Buddha’s teaching because the chance of hearing a Buddha’s teaching is extremely rare. She wanted to contribute in lighting the hall. Alas, she was very poor and could not even afford the smallest and cheapest oil lamp. Her desire to see and hear the Buddha was so strong that she decided to cut her precious long hair and sell it for some money. With this money, she was able to buy but the most meager of oil lamps. She carried her lamp into the hall and set it down among the others and lit it. She then put her hands together and prayed towards the lamp, asking forgiveness from the Buddha that her offering was so miserable. With feelings of inadequacy, she sat towards the back of room where hundreds had gathered to hear the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha was sitting with his eyes gently closed, and opened them before he began to speak. It was in the middle of his lecture that a very strong typhoon-like gust of wind blew through the room. The wind extinguished all but one of the burning oil lamps. All the while, the Buddha continued his sermon as though nothing had occurred. The one lamp that kept burning strong and bright turned out to be the smallest of all, the one that was offered by the poor women.


What can we take away from this? In the same way that the Buddha did not stop the wind from blowing out the oil lamps, it is difficult to expect that a calamity can be kept from occurring completely. One cannot expect the Buddha to completely avert a train wreck from occurring if there exist conditions where a tragic failure can occur. Similarly, it would not be a surprise if a drunken driver ended up demolishing his/her Tesla, regardless of whether the driver activated the autopilot, because it does not change the fact that s/he was under the influence of alcohol. Here, there is no effort to be responsible for what can happen. Under these circumstances, dependence upon the divine for protection can be construed as negligent and derelict, if not selfish. It is vital that one does his or her part to be responsible for one’s own affairs as best as one can before looking for blame around them. As the story of the “Lamp of the Poor Woman” displays, one must act proactively to pursue favorable, productive, and safe results. Having nothing, the poor woman sacrificed her hair to buy a lamp for the Buddha. She did the best that she could to make the greatest offering within her means.


Now, interestingly, having said this, there is a caveat. As the one remaining candle in the story teaches us, there always exists a chance that we can be saved. But, again, this divine intervention is contingent on whether our efforts mirror that of the poor woman in unselfishness, sincerity, and purity.

(Eisei Ikenaga)