Sense of Appreciation and Value What We Already Have
By Ko Kitani
Good morning, everyone.
I would first like to apologize for being unable to attend service in person. But I would also like to thank Reverend Mukojima for the opportunity to speak online as a replacement. With that said, I am honored, excited, and just a little bit terrified to be speaking today. After years of Sunday Services, YBA meetings, and everything in between, I’ve finally reached the daunting task of giving a speech in front of the Sangha. I’ve learned a lot of lessons during my years at the Temple, ranging from how late I could sleep in before I would be late for the 10 am start to which service has the best refreshments. But as I’ve grown as a person, throughout my time at the Mountain View Buddhist Temple, I have learned a plethora of life lessons that I hope to carry on with me as I embark on my next chapter in life.
The first lesson Buddhism has taught me is that finding myself where I am now was never my choice, but it happened for a reason. Life is all about reasons and results, so we need to accept what happened. Based on that, this idea gave me the motivation to progress with life and do what I was supposed to do. And if something went wrong in life, I trusted that it was because of a reason I could search for and fix as much as I could. But if that did not work, I trusted that there is a hidden reason that I cannot see. An example could be my parents deciding things for me at a young age, such as waking up before 10 am every Sunday to attend service. I might not have liked this decision at the moment, but overtime I appreciate this choice my parents made. Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there. They serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson, or help figure out who you are or who you want to become. You never know who these people may be; your friends, your peers, teacher, long lost friend, or even a complete stranger who when you lock eyes with, you know that they will affect your life in some profound way. Because I’ve joined this community, I’ve been able to meet so many amazing people and friends throughout the years, shaping me into the person I am today. So while Buddhism wasn’t my first choice, I’m content with the outcome.
Another lesson I’ve learned is to live in peace. When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, my life was flipped upside down. I lost family and close friends to the virus, and didn’t know how to process the grief and loss at a young age. What I’ve come to realize after a few years is that it’s normal to miss someone, but we can’t lose ourselves when we lose them. We can miss them, but we can’t let our lives be over when they are gone. Because we still have our lives to live. Buddhism has taught me I don’t need a reason to have hope – I don’t need evidence or logic as much as I think I do. I don’t even need to fully understand or grasp what hope is. Instead, I have to bravely decide to give in and trust in the process, even when I can’t see or understand it – even if I don’t know it’s there. When life is dark, I have to believe that something is out there that is worth living. And this belief is what helps me move forward. Anxiety and overthinking do not change the situation. Life does go on. Two years ago we were online doing Zoom services, today we are in person. Hopefully by next year, masks will be just by choice, and normalcy will continue to progress.
Finally, I’ve learned to just be grateful. As I am mere months away from moving across the country to pursue a higher education, there are countless life lessons and memories that take place on the Temple grounds that will stick with me no matter how far I go. Being grateful means expressing happiness and thanks. All of us have many things to be grateful for, many things we take for granted. However, I’ve realized that life is the most important thing to be grateful for. Life is precious, life is precious. I always hear my grandparents and my mom say these words, but I didn’t really understand until this year. Earlier this year, I lost a friend. He was a senior just like me and he would have graduated this month. A week before his passing, we were playing video games like normal, talking about all the things we had coming up for us. Except he never got to live through those plans. Death is unavoidable but it is unfortunate that life has to end for those who still have a life to live. The future is important, but the present is most important. Why plan ten years ahead when you don’t know if you will still be alive? I am not saying go be paranoid and I am not saying forget about the future. However, I am saying that every day is a new day, another chance to try something different or something we enjoy. Life has so much to offer and we need to take the opportunity. I’ll admit, I still complain a lot about things I should be grateful for, but as I grow up, I am learning to become more and more grateful. As Buddha once said “Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.” Happiness is not something that can be obtained solely through the acquisition of external possessions or achievements. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of appreciating and valuing experiences that we’ve already lived in our life. By acknowledging and appreciating what we already possess, whether it’s relationships, personal accomplishments, or simple pleasures, we can develop a greater sense of satisfaction and well-being. There are always things that are worthy to be thankful for, even though they’re often taken for granted.
So as my speech draws to a close, I want to thank the Temple for the valuable lessons I’ve learned. Through the teachings of Buddhism, I’ve learned that everything happens for a reason, and while I may not always agree with the circumstances, I can make the best use of the opportunities presented to me. I have also learned the importance of living in peace, even in the face of adversity. And while world events like a global pandemic can bring immense loss and grief, through Buddhism, there is hope and the courage to move forward. Happiness is not found in external possessions or achievements; it lies in appreciating and valuing what we already have. And so as I embark on my next chapter in life, I carry these lessons to guide me through any challenges that come my way. Thank you all for being a part of my journey. I’m not good at goodbyes, so until next time.
Mountain View High School 2023
Bound for Drexel University
Studying Civil Engineering
The Temple Gave My Life Stability and Guidance
By Emi Kosakura
My name is Emi Kosakura and I am so grateful that I got to grow up here at the Mountain View Buddhist Temple. Ever since I started attending Dharma School in preschool, I never would have imagined myself standing here in front of you all having it be my turn to give a Senior Speech.
I vividly remember back in 2013 when my mom first made me write in this notebook each Sunday after church because I often couldn’t recall what was talked about. In this book, I would write down something I learned at church, ranging from important dates and special services to remember to important takeaways from the insightful Dharma Talks. Looking through my notes from 10 years ago, one specific message stood out to me that I would like to touch upon and little did I know that what I wrote that day would continue to be something I reflect upon in my everyday life to this day.
As I reflect on my time here at the Temple, I have grown to appreciate all the little moments that are easily overlooked. Buddhism is about learning to accept and embrace our suffering, and I have gained a new perspective that has allowed me to live life with more peace and happiness. Having to experience great suffering means that I have also experienced the other end of the spectrum of great happiness and joy. I often find myself suppressing my feelings and emotions because I don’t want my suffering to rub off on others and affect their happiness. However, over the years I have learned that life is about suffering. These past few years have been emotionally and mentally difficult for me, as I feel like I have worked so hard, but the end results are not what I expected. While these feelings should not be ignored, the teachings of the Buddha have helped me learn to accept my suffering and support others through their suffering. In the moment, it may feel like suffering, but looking down the road at the larger picture, everything happens for a reason and allows you to enjoy the happy moments to a greater extent. I never would’ve imagined where I’d be today, but I believe that this is where I’m meant to be at this part of my life and I will make the most out of all the opportunities given to me.
The welcoming environment that the MVBT community provides is something I deeply admire. Although I didn’t build close relationships until recently, I have always felt the love and support from everyone in the tight knit community. From Dharma School to Obon to taiko to Nakayoshi Gakko, I have been able to find my place at the Temple and form meaningful friendships that I know will last a lifetime. Not only has the community provided me with lifelong friendships, it has also provided me with a safe place that lets me escape from the chaos that exists in everyday life. I have grown to look forward to going to church because it gives my life stability and the guidance that I need to succeed in life.
I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the love, support, and guidance I have received from the wonderful Mountain View Buddhist Temple community. Thank you for being a place I can turn to and feel comfortable and just be myself. I am forever grateful for everything that the church and all of you have done for me. I will cherish the memories and carry on all the life lessons as I enter the next chapter of my life. Thank you for everything!
Monta Vista High School 2023
Bound for University of Washington
By Jake Aquino
I am Jake Aquino. I am graduating from Mountain View High School and will be attending Cal State University at Long Beach in the fall to study economics. Thank you all for being here to listen to my speech. So I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t really know what to write for this. After some brainstorming, I remembered what everyone talks about, impermanence. So obviously I’m not gonna talk about that. After some thinking, I remembered that the Temple’s theme for this year was Kansha, or gratitude, and I thought that that would be the perfect topic for my speech. After all, I have a lot of things to be grateful for.
I’ve been attending this temple for as long as I can remember. Every week we would attend services and then go to Dharma School to learn about the many different Buddhist teachings. I am thankful for the Temple because of the opportunities it has given me and the friendships it has provided me along the way. I have learned many useful life lessons from the many services that I attended. The many Dharma Talks I have listened to throughout my childhood have been very helpful in teaching me how to treat others and live my life.
I am very grateful that we are back in the Temple for in-person services. Having two full years of Zoom services was quite the experience. It was very different to witness everything through the screen from home. And also football was on in the mornings so how was I even supposed to pay attention? But yeah, it was definitely a different experience compared to what I was used to. I think this experience was very useful though because it helped me become more appreciative of in-person services. I took for granted being able to see others, read from the service books, and actually go up to oshoko.
In addition, I have also been able to make many relationships thanks to the Temple. Specifically through Dharma School and YBA. My parents met people through YBA and these are people that they are still friends with to this day. Even though I think my dad just joined YBA to be the ringer for their basketball tournaments. I have had the chance to meet many people during my time at the Temple. I am glad to have been given the same opportunity to make the same everlasting friendships as my parents have had.
So obviously, I am grateful for everyone who came out to support me. I am grateful for the Sangha that has always provided an amazing sense of community for me. I’d like to thank Reverend Mukojima and all my Dharma school teachers for teaching me many lessons about Buddhism. Thanks to all my friends who are always there for me. Special shoutout to Ryan, Jarrett, Connor, Lacey, Jillian, Ko, and Kendall, y’all are the best. Of course, I’d like to thank my family, Mom, Dad, Brad, and Kimi, for always supporting me, even though Brad didn’t even come today. Just kidding, he has lacrosse practice right now.
Thank you to the Mountain View Buddhist Temple, I will be forever grateful for the impact you have had on my life.
Mountain View High School 2023
Bound for Cal State University at Long Beach