So today is the day when we commemorate the first time that Nichiren formally chanted Namu Myoho Renge Kyo and initiated what we now call Nichiren Buddhism. Happy Birthday Odaimoku!
This past Sunday we commemorated a few days in advance at the temple by chanting Odaimoku for an hour with the taiko drums. That was really nice. I even tried my hand at drumming with two sticks with mediocre results – but practice makes perfect so I will keep at it.
The I went up to Marin County to meet with a couple of people I meet there on every fourth Sunday (or so). We do gongyo together and then discuss various topics in Buddhism (though the last three months our talks have centered on the Devadatta chapter and related stories – the story of Devadatta’s schism, the Dragon-Girl and sex swapping episode in the Vimalakirti Sutra, and the enumeration of the Buddha’s virtues, qualities and powers).
That evening I spent sitting and chanting at the Faithful Fools in the Tenderloin, and then I went upstairs from the meditation room to their community hall and joined the people who were gathered there for the Strong Medicine Show (which I caught the tail end of but am still unable to really describe what it is). Anyway, the people at Faithful Fools seem to be a really kind, caring, and thoughftul group of people. They have generously allowed the use of their meditation space (for free) so that I can meditate and chant there every Sunday night in what amounts to my own private temple space in San Francisco (at least for the two hours that I am there with my Gohonzon). I guess I should say who they are – the Faithful Fools is a street ministry at 230/234 Hyde Street which was founded by a Unitarian minister named Rev. Kay Jorgensen and a Catholic nun named Sr. Carmen Barsody. They have a copy shop there as well. They have collected a group of local artists, artisans, writers, poets, performers, activists, advocates, students, homeless, and just plain folk who get together to be thoughtful, silly, and above all caring. I have only been peripherally involved with them but hope to get to know them better as time goes on. I became aware in the past year that they held sitting meditation sessions in the mornings during the week, so I asked if they would like someone to run something in the evening. They were happy to have me onboard, and so every Sunday I come in to sit and do gongyo. The Faithful Fools also hold homeless retreats where for a day (or maybe more) one lives on the street as a homeless person would as an act of compassion and solidarity.
So my Sunday was my busy commemoration in advance of the founding of Nichiren Buddhism as I chanted my way up and down the Bay Area from San Jose to Marin County and then the Tenderloin back in SF.
Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,