LIVING DHARMA CENTRE

“Each and every one of us is a Living Dharma Centre.”
Bishop Tatsuya Aoki
The Living Dharma Centre (LDC) was conceptualized in 2005 to be a center for the forwarding of Shin Buddhist scholarly works as well as being a support for the temples in Canada.

It was to be led by a paid director who was given enough capital to organize the structure as well as put a fundraising framework in place within a 3 year time frame. The organizing committee did not find a successful candidate to become the paid director, and the directorship was assumed at times by the Bishop and eventually by Dr. Leslie Kawamura on a volunteer basis.

Dr. Kawamura gathered volunteers from parts of the national membership across the country and put a “grass roots” structure in place for the LDC to fund small projects which were local and informal.

After Dr. Kawamura’s passing, a Board Liaison was appointed and after analysis and discussion with the JSBTC President, Board and the Bishop, the LDC Program Director became a portfolio of a National Board Director with a formalized structure in place for funding and accountability to the JSBTC. The LDC drew its raison d’etre from the phrase: “To increase the understanding of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in Canada by strengthening temple resources and promoting Shin Buddhist scholarship”, found in part of Dr. Kawamura’s writings and in the original proposal of the creation of the LDC. A budget for spending on projects was created and approved by the JSBTC Board and ratified at the AGM by the membership with the same financial procedures and protocols followed by all JSBTC Board and Committees.

The LDC took guidance and direction from and with the Bishop, gradually adding committee members for Dharma School Resources (Brenda Ikuta), Books and Education (Barb MacCarl) and Ministerial Assistants and Lay Leaders Development Program (Roland Ikuta) to help develop new projects and bolster existing programs.

The LDC provides partial subsidies for various projects, course fees and conference and travel expenses. Due to its limited income stream, it does not fully fund projects, and as well, the applicant must have a vested interest (investment) in their project. Also, with this approach to its limited budget, the LDC can help more projects instead of a few expensive ones, and it tries to preserve the principal investment.

Successful applicants must submit a written report (with photos if possible) suitable for the JSBTC website of their project/course/conference. In the case of modules, a report accompanied by a repeatable procedure is needed for submission to the JSBTC AGM.

Some of the programs, projects and assistance extended by the LDC to temples and individuals have been:

1. Travel, registration and accommodation expenses to conferences such as: Techno Buddha, Federation of Dharma School Teachers League Conference, Eastern Buddhist League Conference and the Young Buddhist International Study Cultural Exchange (YBICSE) reunion in Berkeley.
2. Upgrade of audio systems at Calgary Buddhist Temple and Toronto Buddhist Church.
3. Subsidy for the two year Jodo Shinshu Correspondence Course (a very high demand on-line course offered by Hongwanji through the Center of Buddhist Education). Bishop Aoki has facilitated access to this limited enrollment course (15 students in total per semester) to 2 approved Canadian applicants.
4. Further study for the ministerial assistants and Dharma lay leaders (both through financial assistance for study or by creation of LDC sponsored workshops).

The LDC has created a resource for Dharma School teachers and leaders in the restricted access Facebook group where ideas for lesson plans, crafts, projects, children’s books and other discussion of topics for Dharma School teachers and leaders can take place.

When the LDC finds a book that is a worthwhile read, it will offer a book “gift” to all temples to share among their members. To date, the LDC has distributed a book with a compilation of Buddhist quotes, a book of essays and poems by a pioneering Canadian minister who became the first North American born Bishop of the BCA as well as an English Seiten compiled and translated by our Rev. Miyakawa (minister for the BC Interior temples).

This past AGM the LDC gifted “Leaves of My Heart” a newly published and translated compilation of the writings of the Lady Takeko Kujo, daughter of the 21st Gomonshu, Buddhist activist and women’s right advocate. We will continue to be on the watch for further books of interest and welcome any suggestions.

To embrace the huge geographic nature of our country and the difficulties of some to attend their local temple, the LDC Virtual Book Club was created. In this on-line group, a book is chosen as a group read with questions and discussions on an on-line forum is conducted. To date we have read six books in total with four Buddhist scholarly works and two being general insightful books. This Virtual Book Club has expanded beyond our country’s borders and has embraced Buddhists from the BCA, Hawaii, U.K., Germany, Nigeria and Central America.

The LDC is always looking for ideas for developing programs, new book ideas and people to help us grow existing programs and create new ones.

If you are interested in helping support our temples, furthering access to the Dharma to yourself or others, please contact the LDC Program Director.
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