Trailblazers 

70th Anniversary Gratitude and Tribute: ReV. Hozen Seki
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Airplane that Rev. Seki came to New York in 1936.jpg

Our 70th Anniversary Gratitude and Tribute goes to Rev. Hozen Seki for his contributions in spreading Buddhism and Japanese Culture in America.  He was a true pioneer and trailblazer in every sense from the moment he disembarked the merchant ship Shunyo-Maruin September 1930.  He was cut from the old school of true grit.  He was on a mission to propagating the Buddha Dharma no matter where it leads him.   

 

Here is what he said, at a talk he gave on June 23, 1982, to a group of senior students at Ryukoku University, the college he graduated from many years ago.

 

Shin Buddhism is family-oriented. It does not require a big temple with many members, but it is rooted in families. It is how the teaching of “neither monk nor layperson” flourishes—just a Buddhist scripture book and one person willing to listen to my Dharma talk—my wife. Thus, I have all three conditions fulfilled. Therefore, I can start a temple anyplace. I have not wavered with this conviction. 

I went to New York without anyone’s invitation, I recited the nembutsu there, my wife heard it, and we rejoiced at listening to the Dharma together. In this way, I was not worried because, with all the three conditions fulfilled, a Buddhist community and association would indeed be created.

 

Rev. Seki was 80 years old when he gave this talk and talked about establishing the New York Buddhist Church and founding the American Buddhist Academy, now known as the American Buddhist Study Center (ABSC).

 

In the same talk he said,

In the Kyōgyōshinshō preface by Shinran Shonin, there is a sentence, “Rejoice at the conditions from the distant past.” The meaning is we cannot live alone—thanks to the support and goodwill of others, we can live in this world. 

Today we still make every effort to fulfill Hozen’s mission and dream of building a community for those families, seekers, and teachers who value the importance of the Buddha Dharma in their lives.  To inspire a love for Buddhism among a diverse population of Americans, regardless of race, gender, or nationality.  And the necessity for wisdom and knowledge to help make a better world for all. 

 

Rev. Seki also said,

We need to learn from the words of Śākyamuni Buddha, who said, “Heavens above and heavens below, I alone am the honored one.” Shinran said, “As I carefully consider the vow established after the five-Kalpa-long deep meditation, it was for me, Shinran, alone.” 

Each of us should realize that they are the “only honored one” in the universe and the ultimate concern of Amida Buddha. I myself wish to be a person with this realization as the conclusion of my eighty-year-long life.

I repeat—it is each one of us who is responsible for the decline or prosperity of the Dharma. The ultimate cause of war and peace also depends on each person.

 

Thank you, Reverend Hozen Seki, for showing us the way.

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