Perspectives from Graduating High School Seniors

We recognize and celebrate our graduating High School Seniors by printing their Dharma Talks.
In this issue are Jarrett Wong & Ryan Mukoyama.

Three Treasures:  How I Rely and Take Refuge in Them

By Jarrett Wong

 Good Morning, Everybody.

Thank you all for being here today.  Although I’ve been attending church events and activities such as Obon and Nakayoshi Gakko since I was as little as I can remember, I’ve only really started to attend Sunday Services consistently just this past year.

Threefold Refuge

That’s why I was so hesitant to join YBA my freshman year.  I thought that knowing “The Golden Chain” by heart was like a prerequisite to join.  Now, 4 years later, I just finished my term as Coast District Youth Buddhist League President and walked the stage at graduation with my Monto Shikisho around my neck.  However, I still do need Page 9 to recite “The Golden Chain” every Sunday.  Now, as I said, I’ve only been going to church for about a year now.  So I’m going to try my best to give this speech and be as accurate as possible, but, if I do get anything wrong, Reverend Mukojima, please feel free to run up to the podium to correct me.  In Buddhism, not just in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, but in general, we have this thing called the Threefold Refuge or TheThree Treasures, those being the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.  Now a Buddhist is one who takes refuge in each of these three treasures.  So today, I wanted to give my take on each of the three treasures and how I rely and take refuge in them.

The Buddha & The Dharma

The first two treasures are the Buddha and the Dharma.  Now being somewhat new to Buddhism, the concept of The Buddha as well as his teachings, as a whole confused me.  There were so many names such as Siddartha Gautama, Sakyamuni Buddha, and Amida Buddha and so many concepts such as the Eightfold Path, the 4 Noble Truths, the 3 Poisons.  It was hard to understand who “The Buddha” is and what exactly he wants me to do.  And while I still don’t have all the answers, I came to realize that that’s ok.  In fact, that’s kinda the point.  Many things in Buddhism, including the Buddha himself are at times inconceivable.  But when we put our trust in something that we cannot fully understand, and believe in Amida’s Primal Vow, we ensure our place in the Pureland.  When I first learned about this I thought to myself, “Hey that’s great.”  I mean, if you think about it, that’s a really good deal.  We as Jodo Shinshu Buddhist are ensured a place in the Pureland, a realm of happiness and peace, simply by believing in the unbelievable wisdom and compassion of Amida Buddha.  I really like this concept and I think it can apply to how I live my life in the present moment.  I don’t know all the answers to how my life will turn out moving forward.  In fact I can’t say that I know any answers at all.  However, if I stop trying to find all the answers and instead simply try to live in the present moment, while being an honest, and compassionate individual, it will lead to a fulfilling life filled with experiences that I can honestly say I’ve made the most out of.

The Sangha

The third, and perhaps my favorite treasure, is the Sangha, the community.  While I’m unsure about many things about the Buddha and the Dharma, I am very confident in how I feel about each one of you guys here today.  I know that without this community, I would not be where I am standing today.  Both literally and figuratively.  Everybody that I’ve met at Sunday Service, YBA, and all of Church events are kind and accepting and allow me to be the most genuine version of myself, and that version is a very happy person.  I would like to express my gratitude to everybody who has helped me in my Buddhist journey.  Reverend Mukojima has helped answer the many questions I had about Buddhism, while at the same time, was simply somebody to look up to and admire.  Thank you to my Dharma School teachers this year; Alex, Cory, and Devon.  Thank you to all the wonderful advisors that really made YBA so great these past 4 years.  And thank you to all the friends I’ve made along the way. 

Through this church, I have met very special people that I would consider to be some of my best friends in the entire world, and I would like to thank each one of them. 

Jillian, you are short, but that’s ok because what you lack in stature you make up for in heart. 

Lacey, thank you for trying to help me with improving my charisma, even though I don’t think I need to. 

Connor, you are who I would take if I had a first overall pick in a Buddhist Jeopardy draft.  If Spiderman was real, my guess would be that Connor Sato is under that mask. 

Bradley, you are the kindest, most compassionate, and tolerant person I know.  Thank you for all the inspirational videos that you’ve sent me that helped me become a better person.

Jake, we’ve been friends since 1st grade or more specifically, Panda and I hope that we can stay friends for the rest of our lives.  Ten years down the line, I’ll call you and we could go get some bread for dinner or something.

And last, and maybe least Ryan.  Thank you for always being there for me.  You are the glue to this community and my life would be very different, and not for the better, had I not had you in it. 

Lastly, I would like to thank my family.  My dad who has supported and provided everything I ever needed to be myself.  My mom, who ever since I was a little kid, has subtly given me Buddhist lessons with phrases such as “Do the right thing” and “Be Jarrett.”  To my sister, Kalyn, who I tend to follow everything she does, set me on this path by getting me to join YBA with her.  And lastly to my ba-chan who is the best Buddhist I know.

Thank you.


Thank You to the MVBT

 By Ryan Mukoyama

Today I just want to talk about my journey in Buddhism and how much this temple has meant to me and how it has impacted my life.  For those of you that don’t know, I’ve grown up in the Buddhist temple and always been connected, especially via my family.  My mom has been a Dharma School teacher here for 13 years, my sister, Kylie, went through Dharma School and YBA before me, and my dad, well, he came to church the past two weeks.  My grandparents are also very involved in their home temples of Palo Alto and San Francisco.  My grandpa is even in Palo Alto’s BWA.  For me, personally, it was difficult to carve my own path and truly find my faith for myself.  I’d always said I was a Buddhist, but mainly just because my parents were.

Thankful for Dharma School

For me, I really got in touch with my Buddhist faith during COVID.  Obviously, everyone hates talking and hearing about COVID, but to me it was very important.  Impermanence was the most obvious lesson and made me rethink my everyday life and the things I took for granted, like physically seeing my friends and going out to eat and being able to see people’s smiles.  But there were other things too.  Dharma School Zooms were something I looked forward to every week, even as things started to go back to normal.  It was something dependable in a time of uncertainty.  Every time something exciting happened to me, I found myself thinking, “I can use this in pits and peaks this week.”  I was so dedicated to getting my perfect attendance.  I even did a Zoom in the bathroom of a hotel room, when I was out of town for a basketball tournament one weekend.  But it wasn’t just the perfect attendance that motivated me.  Nor was it just the fact that I could see my friends.  It was a time where I could slow down and genuinely reflect on everything and not worry about everything going on in the world.  During this time is when I found my faith for myself.  So I want to thank Mr. Bruce and Alex for doing everything to create memorable Zoom classes as well as all my other Dharma School teachers for putting up with me.  Thanks to all of you, I’ve grown to be a more confident person from being scared of getting judged for chanting to now leading it for the Coast District conference this past March.

MVBT: Safe Space for Me

Church has been more than just a religious place to me.  For those of you that don’t know, I attended Bellarmine, a Catholic high school.  Although I tried to fit in, and had some success, I never really truly felt at home.  Luckily, this year, I did meet some freshmen that were Jodo Shinshu Buddhists, but most of them unfortunately attended another chapter, San Jose, but that’s beside the point.  For most of my high school life, I felt sort of out of place.  However, Mountain View was always a safe space I could come back to and I am so glad to have had that.

YBA:  Exceeded Expectations

The social aspect from YBA has also impacted my life a lot.  I was always told of how great and important YBA was by Kylie.  And truthfully, I was worried she might have overhyped it.  But now I can say that this experience has far exceeded my expectations.  So many memories have been created, including going undefeated in cooking competitions, the short-lived G FUEL phase, karaoke sessions with Brent, terrible Halloween costumes, conferences and planning an entire conference, and obviously all the boba runs.  I have found my best friends in YBA and so I want to thank you for always being there for me.  It’s been a fun past year, but also challenging and stressful, and I could always count on most of you guys to be there with advice and keep me level headed or cheer me up when needed.  You guys are truly my second family and I am so glad that we have each other.  I will miss seeing you guys every Sunday, but hope to stay in touch with many of you.

Thank You to My Family

Lastly, I just want to thank my parents and my family.  You guys have always served as positive role models for me and have made me who I am today.  Thank you to my parents for keeping me on the right track and supporting me in everything I do.  Thank you to my grandparents who are always there for me and showed me how to be strong leaders in Buddhist communities.  And thank you Kylie for always coming home because you miss me so much.  I will miss seeing you all the time.