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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
fall 2005| 78 |buddhadharma because you see that there are no separations. So this is now more in line with what the founder intended.” Shin Buddhism has long been a pillar of the Japanese immi- grant community in the United States, but in the past few decades its role has weakened. The BCA has gone from a community of 50,000 families in 1960 to fewer than 20,000 today. It still has sixty-five churches (many have gone back to calling themselves temples) and sixty active ministers. But nearly seventy percent of Japanese-Americans marry outside their ethnic group; most of those who are members of the BCA then leave the commu- nity. Now, five generations after Jodo Shinshu first took root in America, the need for a protective Japanese enclave has almost disappeared. And because it long operated as an almost exclu- sively Japanese organization, few outsiders have joined. Jerry Bolick went against the grain. Although his heritage is not Japanese, Bolick joined the BCA twenty-five years ago. He says he found “a lay-oriented tradition that fit my life. Or, more accurately, a place and an environment that emphasized the kind of life I was living and not about to give up – life as a family man.” Bolick speaks glowingly of the “close-knit” and “supportive” dharma community to which he happily belongs. And he approves of the changes introduced by Bishop Ogui. “What’s new is the energy we’re getting at his level,” he says. “There’s an excitement I haven’t seen before. We are talking about things we haven’t talked about before. And this is a fam- ily where everybody has a voice.” One of the most striking changes in the BCA is sitting medi- tation, which is now being introduced in many churches. Ogui prefers to downplay this change, suggesting that meditation has always been practiced in some form. “Meditation is not just having a Zen type of practice,” Ogui says. “Meditation is also chanting the sutras and listening to dharma. Arguing with your wife and children is another type of meditation practice. The Buddha emphasized actual practice in our life, staying in the middle of life, not leaving our actual life but staying in the middle of our struggles. This is very much emphasized by our ministers.” While supporting the reforms, Bolick also says the BCA is, by habit if not by nature, slow moving. So he’s uncertain how much change will last. “For almost seventeen years I worked for the Bank of America,” Bolick said. “Through those years I saw a lot of changes, but fundamentally few changes took place. It takes a while to see how deeply changes go. “A lot has happened in a year, but it’s one year of one hun- dred. I think the jury is still out.” Meanwhile, more change is in the works. Ogui has appointed seven committees to review all aspects of BCA operations, from the format of funerals and weddings to a ministers’ code of eth- ics to new interpretations of the teachings. He complains that too many ministers who trained in Japan, and even some who trained in the U.S., continue to think in traditional Japanese ways. He is urging his ministers to think creatively, take chances, and interpret things with a fresh view. “We need to make it attractive and interesting,” he says. “In a sense, to make sense.” Still, he has his eye on the larger picture. “The point is not to increase the membership,” Bishop Ogui says, “but to help more people.” lizamatthews Introduction to the Tibetan Language, Level I Package Complete introductory package includes: Course book, audio cassette or CD, easy-to-use Flash Cards, Pre-primer, Ti betan-English Dictionary. Price $111.00 NEW! DVD of Level I Course David Curtis’s highly successful course on learning to read Tibetan, condensed into a three-hour presentation, in a Colloquial/Spoken Package Learn to speak Tibetan with your lama Manuals, CD-Rom, audio cassettes. Price $175.00 Also available: Dictionaries (print and electronic) and Tibetan software at great prices, grammar books, and an extensive collection of Dharma books specially chosen with the language/dharma student in mind. See our website to order, for a complete listing of all our materials, and for a selection of free study aids. TIBETA N LANGUAGEINSTITUTE COURSES IN CLASSICALTIBETAN Featuring Private Te lephone Tutorials TIBETA N LANGUAGE STUDY MATERIALS Anon-profit educational organization dedicated to the study and preservation of the language, literature, and culture of Tibet. UPCOMING LANGUAGE SEMINARS East and West Coasts, Montana, and Hawaii Telephone: 406-961-5131 • E-mail: email@example.com www.tibetanlanguage.org studio-recorded 2 DVD set. Price $45.00