The OCeeker: The Buddhist Church of Orange County and Meditations on Women, the Lakers and Pabst Blue Ribbon

buddhistchurch.jpg
Buddha been good to me. 

The OCeeker took his ecumenical soul to the Orange County Buddhist Church for some sutra sans the kama, meditation minus the Me'shell Ndegéocello, and dharma without the Greg

Located at 909 S. Dale Ave., the meditation service took place in the church's mini-chapel, right next to the big Buddha building, which looks like Japan humped Irvine, creating a tan, stucco edifice with brown wooden trim, perhaps lovingly painted by Daniel LaRusso.

The church is a member of the San Francisco-based Buddhist Churches of America, and practices Jodo Shinshu Mahayana Buddhism. It's mother temple is the Nishi Hongwanji located in Kyoto, Japan. And what's Kyoto famous for? Why, a nifty Bad Religion song called "Kyoto Now!" that plays in the background as Caucasian climate change couples make love on top of copies of the Kyoto Protocol

Jodo Shinshu means "True Pure Land Religion". It was the teaching of Shinran Shonin (Shonin means holy man), who was born in Kyoto on May 21, 1173

Long story short, ol' Shonin got tired of monastery life, pissed off the priesthood by marrying a gal named Princess Tamahi, taught (against tradition) salvation through the power of Amida (the Buddha of infinite light and life), got banned from Kyoto, and at 45 years old, wrote his most important work, "Kyo Gyo Shin Sho", or "Teaching, Practice, Faith and Attainment", the foundation for Jodo Shinshu. He eventually made it back to Kyoto, where he taught and wrote and kicked the bucket. 

The Buddhist Church of Orange County belongs to one of the two major branches of Jodo Shinshu--Higashi Hongwanji. That ain't hogwash, Henry. The main practice is to listen to dharma (teachings) as a way to find enlightenment. 

In the U.S., the movement began about 100 years ago, and has spread throughout the country. The church in Orange County broke ground in 1935 on the property of Mr. and Mrs. Taikichi Kato in Talbert, in what is now Fountain Valley. It moved to Stanton in 1958, and eventually settled into its current location in 1965, the same year Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs topped the music charts with "Wooly Bully".

March 14, 7:30 p.m. 

The OCeeker was greeted inside the mini-chapel by a white guy named Mark, who wore black religious garb over his street clothes, and a golden cloth wrapped around his shoulders. He was bald, except for gray hair around the sides and back, and looked to be at least in his 40s. Hanging around Mark, the OCeeker got himself a peaceful, easy feeling. 

The mini-chapel was rather plain inside, with gray carpeting, and square-shaped woodwork all around. Cushioned chairs were lined up in rows, but there were only seven us there in total, with the whites beating the Asians 4-2. The OCeeker couldn't figure out what one other guy was, but he was dressed in monk duds. 

At the front of the temple, there was a golden image of a Buddha in a little pocket of gold religious ornamentation, which included an altar, flowers (symbolizing fading beauty to remind us of change), incense in an urn (which symbolizes prayer and becoming one with others), and electric candles (symbolizing wisdom, light and power bills). 

A man kindly handed the OCeeker a dharma service song book, who sat about three rows back on the right side. Asian No. 1 sat on the floor. Asian No. 2 sat in the row across from the OCeeker, whose cracker brethren, of various ages over 35, spread throughout the room. 

Mark sat up front, with his legs crossed. He explained that we would meditate for 10 minutes seated, five minutes standing, and 10 minutes seated again. It was important for us to get comfy and find a "center" point in our posture, he said. 

Eyes Wide Shut 

Mark set reasonable expectations. 

"We're not going to get enlightened; that's not really the point," he said. 

The point was to watch how our minds work, but not hang on to our thoughts. Mark compared thoughts to incense rising, or carbonation in a bottle. Burp. 

"A lot of Zen masters will say it's just sitting," Mark said. 

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Triangle Buddha
​Those must include Phil Jackson, who sat on his hippie ass through most games as head coach of the Lakers and the Bulls

Mark said we could close our eyes, but recommended we shut them only halfway, so as not to fall asleep. He then rang a bell and the OCeeker got his meditation on (with eyes half-closed for peekies): naked women; hope the Lakers can beat the Hornets in overtime; where am I going to take that hot Mexican woman I picked this week?; naked women; 909Jeff (a commenter on OC Weekly's website) must be a hillbilly hipster because his avatar is the Pabst logo; theme to What's Happening!!; GenY men are wimps; 10 minutes is a long-ass time; naked women; etc.

Mark rang the bell again, and we did a little bow with our hands in a prayer-like position (palms pressed together and pointed upward). The OCeeker thought he made out the word "gassho", a greeting. The OCeeker mixed in "Gasol", a traditional Laker greeting meaning "don't trade me."

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5 comments
Bill
Bill

 OCeeker - thanks for your article. You've really caught the flavor of just what happens to all of us in meditation - our thoughts just run all over the place. The idea is to learn to just let them go and not follow them as they run around in circles. Just one little correction: Orange County Buddhist Church belongs to the Nishi branch of Jodo Shinshu, not the Higashi. Appreciated the C+ - after all, Buddhism is the Middle Way!

Mark Van Dyke
Mark Van Dyke

Hey OCeeker - Thank you - very nice article. Wonderful sense of humor. Very impressed that you did your "homework" in regards to Jodo ShinShu history & our traditions movement in America.The diversity of our group demonstrates America's interest in Buddhism - Whites, Hispanics, Asians & a Sri Lankan monk all meditating and discussing the Dharma - this is Buddhism in America. As you metioned, Buddhism has only had a presence in America for about 100 years, it will be interesting to watch the growth of American Buddhism. . .stay tuned.As you experienced, our thoughts wander back to the past or the into the future or worrying about a Laker game. As we all innately understand, we can only live in one place, our goal is to make that place the present moment. Why? Because that's where life is happening, right here, right now. In Buddhism, we only discuss "suffering" to point to the causes and ultimately, find the way to Gratitude & Happiness. Once we Awaken to all that we are given, all that we can can give and we realize that life is a precious gift. Live it !The Buddha said, "to hold on to anger is like holding to hot coal with the intention of trowing it. . .you are the only one that gets burned." This was the point about controlling on not controlling our thoughts. We may, with practice control what or how long we hold onto a thought, but controlling what we think?Our Meditation & Dharma discussion meets every Wednesday at 7:30 in the Mini Chapel at Orange County Buddhist Church, 909 S Dale St. Anaheim. All are welcome. All races, all religions, all cultures.Funny thing about Buddhist, you have to come to us, you'll never see us knocking on your door.OCeeker, appreciate the C+, you would have enjoyed the Dharma discussion with tea and "crackers". On your next visit, stay for the Dharma talk, then Grasshopper, you are ready to leave the Temple.In GasshoMark

Kaonashi
Kaonashi

Mahayana Buddhism sucks.

909Jeff
909Jeff

You ponder such deep topics... HA! 

I agree Gen Y men are wimps! 

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

"At least half the guys greeted the OCeeker."

...typical Buddhists:  nice, friendly, caring... 

Let us know if you ever find a Xian church that's warm and greeting and doesn't require a fervent belief in the Flintstones. 

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