Sunday, June 06, 2010

A bit more on the Portland Buddhist Festival

The above two pictures were from the Portland Buddhist Festival.  As it turned out, I had to leave somewhat early as I had to go back to idea which never materialized, thanks to the horrendous traffic situation on the freeways.  Well, that happens from time to time.  It was a great day to be stuck in traffic.The highlight of the festival for me at any  rate was a discussion with Nichiren priest about the Lotus Sutra.  They do read it differently than I do, though he was not without respect for my interpretation, and they did say they do read other sutras.  

I also spoke with  Jodo Shinshu Oregon Buddist Temple's senior minister  Jundo Gregory Gibbs (above, left), although not for nearly as long as I'd have liked.  I wanted to ask him about his relationship, if any, with the Vietnamese and Chinese Pure Land temples in the area.  I did figure out I'd be in town for their wonder O-Bon festival. One other person I talked to, besides those already mentioned here and yesterday, was a wonderful woman from the Kagyu etc. school; it was great having a discussion with her, who assured me that they weren't as politically active as the folks who follow the Dalai Lama.  Tibetan stuff is always quite a bit more complex to me, naturally.   One final thing I noticed was the relative lack of presence of other Asian temples this year, and that was a bit of a pity; maybe a fluent translator for a dharma talk would help.

I did, before I returned home, visit Miao Fa Chan Temple a few blocks away.  They used to have a website, but it disappeared.  But they're still around, I'm happy to say; perhaps they might go to next year's event.  If you want to see a resplendent Chinese Pure Land Temple in Portland, this is the place to go. 

Perhaps, next year  I might, if others didn't mind, contact a few other temples, such as Hui Lin Si, to get their interest.

However, one thing was quite apparent to me: I  completely am not, at this time, in any way ready or able to actually, uh, get up and teach people.  About the Dharma at any rate, in a Dharma setting.  My words would have come out rather disruptive and jarring, and I don't think that would have been very skillful.  My teacher hasn't emphasized a wordy style of teaching, to say the least; I do wish I were more fluent in Japanese so he could give a Dharma talk and I could translate.  But it has given a certain interesting flavor to his style of not-teaching-because-Bodhidharma-is-the-teacher.  Too,  many of the speakers at the Portland Buddhist Festival introducing their temples would say, "Come visit us."  I don't think my teacher would mind people visiting at all once his routine settles down, but  getting a constant influx of new students isn't something he actively pursues at all. And I would not either.   It's that old tradition of having barriers to practice.  Now don't get me wrong: the folks such as they are at the Zen Community of Oregon I think are needed; people do need some kind of access to what the Dharma is, and what Zen practice is.  

But being taught by my teacher is, at present, between them and my teacher, although I do discuss some of these things from time to time.  As for myself, though, if someone doesn't want me to teach them, it's because it's not manifestly obvious that I have anything to teach.  Which is the case. I have found out in the course of my work that I do have to teach the Dharma.  It's just not called the Dharma at all.


SlowZen said...

Here is my take on teaching: The Buddha Dharma does the teaching. The best thing to do is try and stay out of its way. Talk from the heart/mind (仏心) and through your own experiences and to the experience of the listener. Never try and force a square peg into a round hole. There is never really ever any effort at all in teaching. There is never any teacher except for the student.

Mumon K said...

Yep. Student and teacher teach each other.

BPF Portland said...

Mumon, we would be happy to have help drawing in more temples. Many were invited, and the Hui Lin Temple expressed interest, but weren't able to attend. Email me privately at bpfportland AT yahoo DOT com.

I think the invitations by groups to come visit are not always so much to gain new students necessarily, but to make sure people feel welcome. Yes, there are gateless gate barriers, but there is also American culture, one piece of which is the expectation of being invited in, and visitors not wanting to intrude with gauche actions.

BPF Portland said...

I am glad to hear Miao Fa Chan Temple is still going. Someone on Yelp commented that it is closed. I got no response from Master FaThai.