Remembering the Dead

On Saturday, November 14, we’ll have a ceremony to remember those who have passed and celebrate our respect and love for them and to offer merit to them.

Please bring very small offerings of food and/or drink (2-4 ounces) if you would like to. We will place the items on a table. Then we’ll offer it in tribute to the dead and all of us will partake of a small bite of food. This is not intended to be a meal. The service is open to all and will be followed by the usual Saturday morning meditation.

The Japanese Buddhist festival of Obon is celebrated on July 15th or August 15th in most of Japan.

This annual festival is where we honor the dead and offer them the merit of our training period, a tradition that originated in the time of the Buddha. We offer food and drink to all the hungry spirits and our ancestors, which seems to tie in with the western tradition of Halloween.

Obon is a shortened form of Ullambana. It is Sanskrit for “hanging upside down” and implies great suffering. The Japanese believe they should lessen or nullify the suffering of the “Urabanna”.

In Mexico there is a similar festival, el Día de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead.

Bon Odori traces its origins from the story of Mokuren, a Buddhist disciple, who used magic powers to look upon his deceased mother. After death, she had gone into the Realm of Hungry Ghosts and was suffering. Seeing this caused Mokuren such great distress that he went to the Buddha with his pain and requested Buddha’s help to release his mother from such suffering. Buddha’s instructions included several things. One of the required actions was to make food and clothes offerings to the Buddhist monks who had just completed their retreat. The disciple did as the Buddha had instructed and through his actions assured his mother’s release. The disciple was so overwhelmed at freeing his mother from such suffering began to dance a spontaneous dance of joy. The first Bon Odori or “Bon Dance” was performed. Since then the dance has become a yearly ceremony. It is a time in of remembrance of our ancestors and family that have died. Their good character is remembered and appreciated and we offer thanks and blessings for all that they have done, and ask that they have peace.

This story is based upon the Ullambana Sutra. It is a Mahayana sutra of a brief talk given by the Gautama Buddha to Mokuren on the practice of respecting the family.

In the Ullambana Sutra, the Buddha instructs his disciple Mokuren on how liberation could be obtained for his mother, who had been reborn into a realm of suffering. The making food offerings to the sangha (Buddhist Priesthood) on the fifteenth day of the seventh month has become a custom. This practice is the basis of the Obon ceremony in honor of one’s ancestors which is still observed widely in Japan.

We are not in Japan so our time of holiday will differ a bit. We’ve chosen a date between Halloween and Thanksgiving to have our day of remembrance and appreciation for our departed loved ones.


  • Building 3 shrines on the property. Would you like to assist in the building of a shrine on the property? The shrines will be located out in the fields and be roofed. We will have one for Buddha, Kannon Bosatsu, and Jizo Bosatsu. Building starts in the spring – volunteer now!
  • We need help in locating a special needs family to assist during the holidays. Please help identify such a family or individual. Call the temple to discuss whom we can help.
  • Food Bank gardens. We plan to plant 1-3 acres in gardens for the food bank in the spring. Please plan on helping plow, seed, weed, water, or deliver the produce from the efforts.


7620 N. Hartman Lane, Suite 112, Tucson, AZ

Going strong under the leadership of Ron Sensei (phone 520.904.9474) and Ed Reis (phone 520.991.8108). The group meets every Sunday Morning at 9AM. Please give them your support by attending.


The Phoenix center has closed. Rev. Johndennis Govert is still available for those who wish to have a priest’s direction and guidance (phone 480.213.8979)

Trout Lake

PO Box 487, Trout Lake WA 98650
(phone 509.395.2030) 46 Stoller Rd. Trout Lake

Temple Hours: Our regular meditation services hours are Monday – Friday mornings at 6:30 am, Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30pm and Saturday morning at 9am.

Farm and Organic Garden Activities: We will have Certified Organic Brown Eggs for sale as of 1 December. Right now the eggs are still a little small (pullet eggs). We do not have a rooster. Our hens are fed a certified organic vegetarian diet plus Certified Organic greens, fruits, and vegetables. We do not kill any chicken for food. We do not use hormones or routine antibiotics.
We have had our fall harvest and this year we were able to dry a small amount of fruit and vegetables. We have some for sale at Heavenly Grounds in Trout Lake.

Currently we have the following permits and licenses: temple/religious retreat, B&B, Food Service, Certified Organic, Certified Egg Handlers, and awaiting our Food Processing license. All of this to be able provide for us being self sustaining.

Financial News: We are doing OK financially. We’re very pleased to announce our ability to offer Dana to our community.
The Mt. Adams Zen Center Dana offerings we were able to give:

  • A gallon bag each of dried apples and plums to Shasta Abbey in California, a wonderful training monastery.
  • $170.00 also to Shasta Abbey for books they donated to our center.
  • $700 to the SOTO Zen Buddhism International Center as an ongoing $100.00 a month donation. This office supports the ongoing growth of Soto Zen Buddhism in America.

The Abbey made the following contributions:

  • $1000.00 to the Trout Lake School to buy playground equipment
  • $500.00 for our Yule support for a family with special needs. Read more about this under projects.

Sept – Nov donations = $237.00
Cash on hand = $560.00 (plus Saito San’s travel fund & our Yule Fund)
Liabilities = $ none. We are planning some advertising but less than $100.00

Miscellaneous News

Join us for a special Yule family project. We are looking for a family or individual who needs some special support this season. Please talk with Kozen if you know such a person or family. Also we are encouraging donations to the Yule fund to pass on to this family – please help if you can.

Kozen’s travels: Kozen hopes to attend a Soto Shu training monastery from December 15. 2009 – March 15, 2010 if it is offered in the US. Still no word from Soto Shu yet!

Welcome to Jennifer Silapie ND, a Naturopath Physician, who has opened her practice in White Salmon. She is a warm hearted and caring individual. 251 N. Main Ave, White Salmon 509.493.3300

Welcome to Dave Martin, a new graduate from an oriental school of medicine, who has moved to the area. He will be taking his board exams shortly and hopes to open a practice in White Salmon. He is also a martial Arts teacher.

There are 2 wonderful churches in our local area that are worth attending if you have time.

  • Trout Lake Presbyterian – Sunday service at 11:15am
  • Mid-Columbia Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Website

They teach and practice an embracing, kind, and loving faith.

The Ten Cardinal Precepts
also known as the ten precepts for lay people

  • I resolve not to kill, but to cherish all life.
  • I resolve not to take what is not given, but to respect the things of others.
  • I resolve not to engage in improper sexuality, but to lead a life of purity and self-restraint.
  • I resolve not to lie, but to speak the truth.
  • I resolve not to cause others to take substances that impair the mind—nor to do so myself, but to keep the mind clear.
  • I resolve not to speak of the faults of others, but to be understanding and sympathetic.
  • I resolve not to praise myself and disparage others, but to overcome my own shortcomings.
  • I resolve not to withhold spiritual or material aid, but to give them freely where needed.
  • I resolve not to indulge in anger, but to exercise restraint.
  • I resolve not to revile the three treasures (Buddha Dharma and Sangha), but to cherish and uphold them.

The 10 Cardinal Precepts are guideposts for Buddhist life. The original vows stated, “I resolve to begin the process of not killing.” Over the years it has been simplified by the above “I resolve not to…”. Regardless, it all involves a commitment to making ourselves better than we are currently. The precepts are simple appearing. When we look more closely at them there are levels upon levels of meanings and thoughts. These levels become more apparent as we begin to live the precepts and embrace them in our daily life.

As your practice grows – evaluate your own behavior – How am I doing? Am I mostly following the precepts or breaking them? Can I do better?
All the Buddhas in all the worlds guide our every step as we reach towards our deepening practice.

May the Gentle One’s Teachings bless and guide us all.


Kozen Sampson
Arizona Soto Zen Centers
PO Box 487
Trout Lake, WA 98650
509.637.5995 cell
509.395.2030 home