The Gardena Buddhist Church Japanese Language School is one of the many programs that has been established by the temple to serve its members and the larger community. As part of our program the language school also introduces the culture that the Japanese language has both fostered and supports, as well as the culture that has given rise to the language. A major part of the Japanese culture is the Buddhist tradition. The Buddhist history of Japan has, for example, helped to form such everyday words such as arigato or what is often translated into English as “thank you.” Literally translated, however, the term arigato means, “difficult to have.” It is a term that was created with the understanding that all existence arises due to countless causes and conditions. If any of these circumstances change, then so does the existence itself. It is also because of this understanding of cause and effect that Buddhism constantly talks about the impermanent nature of existence. All these things contribute to how difficult it is to have. Our own lives, although we often take it for granted, is also a part of this truth of how difficult it is to have. Appreciating this truth of how difficult it is to have–including all the things that surround and support us–leads us to feeling appreciation and gratitude. Hopefully, the deep connection that our language school has with Buddhism will foster this kind of appreciation within our students and in the not too distant future help our students be able to say “thank you” for the gift of the Japanese language.
Rev. John Iwohara,
Gardena Buddhist Church Head Minister