Perspectives from Graduating High School Seniors – July 2020

We recognize and celebrate our graduating high school Seniors by printing their Dharma Talks.

In this issue,
Stacey Kawabata & Kalyn Wong

 

Great Temple & Great Friends

by Stacey Kawabata

Hello everyone!

I’m Stacey Kawabata, and you’ve probably seen me around church selling Girl Scout cookies, giving a Spaghetti Dinner announcement, or sitting on the bench outside YBA Hall eating refreshments.  I’ve grown up attending church, first at Oakland for a few years and then until now, at Mountain View.  Every year I looked forward to the yearly traditions including Obon, Hanamatsuri, Sangha Day Picnic, and of course, the senior speeches.  From a young age, I would always look forward to hearing the seniors give their final message, but as the years flew by, I would begin to anticipate the speeches with a little more dread, because I knew each year was a year closer to me having to give my own talk.  As that day has finally approached, I think we can all say it is not what I was envisioning all those years ago.  However, despite these circumstances, I’m still very grateful I have this last opportunity to express my gratitude and reflect on some things Buddhism and this Temple have taught me over the years.  And I have to say, talking to myself on Zoom is a lot less intimidating than standing up there on Sensei’s podium.

I remember when my family first moved to this area, we went to visit the three temples closest to us: San Jose, Palo Alto, and of course, Mountain View.  I think I was only five, but my parents let me choose, or at least I felt like they were letting me choose, which temple we would join, and I chose Mountain View.  I don’t really remember why I initially chose it, but I’m incredibly grateful that I did.  I must have been able to sense that I would gain an invaluable sense of community and lasting friendships, or else I just got really lucky.  Thank you so much to the Sangha, for your steady support whether it be through my numerous Girl Scout or YBA events. Thank you to the Oasaji group, who acceptingly welcomed me into the morning practices, and especially to Mr. Nakano for teaching me the basics and helping me with my toban Sundays.  Thank you to Sensei, for your guidance and support.  I’ve gained a lot of insight from your talks, and I will always remember your drawing of the boat with two islands representing Ohigan from the Padma lessons.  Additionally, thank you to all my Dharma school teachers, for coming up with engaging and creative classes every week.

A lot of my favorite Temple experiences have been made through YBA.  I don’t think there was ever a question of whether to join or not, my mom just signed me up and the next thing I remember is Kylie and I nervously sitting in the back of a YBA meeting.  Becoming involved has truly been such a memorable experience, and I greatly appreciate everything the advisors put into YBA to make it as successful and fun as it is for us.  YBA has offered me ways to learn more about Buddhism, allowed me to become active in the community in a fun and engaging way, and opened opportunities for me to meet other Buddhist youth, whether it has been from the BCA youth retreat or YBICSE program.  These experiences and the lessons I’ve learned from them will stick with me for the rest of my life.

To the Mountain View Seniors – Kalyn and Lauren, although you joined later, you’ve still been able to make all the events you attended that much more memorable and enjoyable. Wendy – I’m so grateful you decided to join because of your infectious energy you bring to any activity – it feels as if you’ve been a part of YBA since the beginning.  And finally, Kylie.  I just have to share one of my favorite Temple memories of us over the last 12 years – it was when we were in elementary school.  We thought we were so cool bringing in our mini stuffed animal dogs in our special purses that had a section for their heads to stick out.  If I remember correctly, we were so proud of them we even made it a point to bring them up with us as we went to oshoko.  And to everyone in YBA, both now and in my past years, thank you for making every YBA activity so enjoyable and being so welcoming.

One of my biggest takeaways from Temple is the understanding that we say the nembutsu and follow the teachings of the Buddha in gratitude.  This surprised me at first, because unlike other sects of Buddhism, the Pure Land is open to everyone in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.  Along with this, it reminds me of the selflessness of others around me and the necessity to show that kindness to others, especially in times like this.  The Eightfold path (VTSCLEMM), Golden Chain, Six Paramitas, and other Buddhist teachings have been instilled in me, and I try to follow them by incorporating them into my daily life. Although I am far from the perfect Buddhist, I strive to become better each day.

This Temple has played such a large part in my childhood by connecting me with some of my closest friends, and in a way providing a space that felt like a second home to me.  Everything I’ve learned has left a lasting impact that I will carry into college and any of my future endeavors.  This fall I will be attending UC Santa Barbara and majoring in Biology, but I hope to come back to visit. 

I’d like to end with one last thank you to my parents, for waking up extra early for Fresno events (can’t be late!), driving me every Sunday and to all my meetings, and for their endless support.

Please join me in Gassho.

Namo Amida Butsu

Namo Amida Butsu

Namo Amida Butsu

 

Forever Grateful

by Kalyn Wong

Hi all, my name is Kalyn Wong.  I just graduated from Lincoln High and will be attending UCLA in the fall to major in global studies and linguistics.  This was my first year in Dharma school and YBA, but even so, this Temple and its members will always be part of my best and fondest childhood memories.

First of all, this Temple is the place where I have grown as a woman and a leader as part of the Temple’s girl scout troop.  Thanks to Girl Scouts, I’ve learned how to pitch a tent, launch rockets, plan a trip, and make salmon.  The people who taught me these things are all accomplished, creative, and extremely patient.  So, thank you to all the parents who volunteer with the troop, but I’d like to thank Auntie Joy, Auntie Joan, Auntie Patty, Auntie Debbie, Auntie Gracie, Auntie Pauline, and Auntie Naomi, in particular, putting so much time and effort into organizing and helping with activities and events.  You all have been my role models since I was six years old.  Being a part of the troop has also allowed me to meet an amazing group of young women that have become real constants in my life. 

The Temple has also been my haven for two weeks every summer as the setting for Nakayoshi Gakko.  I have been a part of this program since I was five years old and can confidently say that it has been the most fun and influential experience of my life so far.  From the afternoon cooking classes to visiting the Asian Art Museum, it’s taught me so much about my cultural heritage and traditions and has really motivated me to educate myself about the history of the Japanese-American community and look at ways that I can become more involved.  Once I became a sempai, I learned more about balancing work and fun, and how to be a better role model for the next generation.  It’s also allowed me to maintain a close relationship with my oldest friends and helped create shared memories that we’ll treasure for the rest of our lives.  So, thank you, to all those involved with Nakayoshi, for giving me and others a safe space to have fun and learn more about ourselves and our culture.

I was always hesitant to join YBA and Dharma school because I thought I didn’t know enough about Buddhism to understand the activities and that my Brownie Padma Award wasn’t enough of a qualification to participate.  But when I did join, I found that it was enough to just want to learn more about Buddhism and how it applies to our daily lives and routines.  I see now how current events relate to principles that we’ve talked about in lessons and the one conference I attended.  I now find myself trying to be more mindful of myself and others and thinking about how I can effect positive change in my community.

I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities I have received.  This year in YBA gave me the opportunity to share one last experience with my brother before I left for college.  It gave me more time to spend with the aforementioned old friends, and it has given me an outlet for reflection when my mind gets restless.  I’ve only been a member of this Temple for a year, but I’ve felt like this is somewhere I belonged for much longer than that.  So to Reverend Mukojima, and the entire Temple community that has always welcomed me with open arms,

Arigato gozaimasu

I will always be, forever grateful.