For one week prior to our bazaar, volunteers come out in force to prepare for our one day extravaganza. The preparation days often start at 6am in the morning and some volunteers are often still found at 11pm. The temple is a beehive of activity all week. As the preparation week advances and the actual bazaar date approaches, the intensity rises. Day by day there is a definite sense of urgency and exciting determination in the air.
One beautiful fall day the bazaar arrived. Our temple officially opened the doors at 12:30pm to allow people in who had been waiting in line. The line-up extended from the front doors to the side of the temple and along the building well into the back parking lot for a good part of the day. Inside our temple, once the Hondo (Worship Hall) was filled to capacity, crowd control came into play - as 20 people left the Hondo, 20 more people were allowed into the main floor selling area. I watched as each new group of 20 people allowed in surged towards the right to the Hondo to discover the bazaar delights which awaited them.
I noticed one exception. There was one woman (probably an issei/first generation Japanese Canadian) who turned left instead of right like everyone else. This intrigued me so I watched closely. When she turned left she calmly headed straight to the statue of Shinran Shonin in our lobby. She then put her hands together and slowly and purposefully bowed in Gassho in gratitude to Shinran Shonin.
What I witnessed and experienced was quite profound to me. Despite the sense of hurriedness and hectic activity displayed by everyone all around her on that day, she had the calm demeanor and strength to know what she was there for. First and foremost, she was there at the temple to express her gratitude towards those who were, in part, responsible for the Buddhist teachings which we currently have to guide us through our daily lives. To her, all the delicious food, baked goods and other items available at the bazaar could wait. For this moment, her heart and mind were with Shinran Shonin. To her, this was her priority.
What I witnessed and experienced was a simple act of faith. Simple, pure and from the heart. Profound as it reminded me that the bazaar was actually only a means to raise funds in order that we could continue to offer religious services and fellowship so that we could all continue to walk the path of the Dharma together as one.
To me, this was one of those wonderful life lessons to remind me of my priorities and how I should live my life. I was fortunate because my take home package from the bazaar was not just the sushi and other food delights but also “A Reminder Learned at the Toronto Buddhist Church."
With gratitude and in Gassho,
July 19, 2015