Letters to the Editor

Narrow categorization of Buddhist practices obscures connections

San Luis Obispo Buddhist Church held its Obon Festival on Saturday, Aug. 6. 2016, at St. Patrick Catholic School in Arroyo Grande. The festival featured music, food and craft booths, Bonsai trees, martial arts, taiko and traditional dance.
San Luis Obispo Buddhist Church held its Obon Festival on Saturday, Aug. 6. 2016, at St. Patrick Catholic School in Arroyo Grande. The festival featured music, food and craft booths, Bonsai trees, martial arts, taiko and traditional dance. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

I would like to thank Mitch Paskin (“Buddhism, Obon Festival are about teachings, not ancestors,” Aug. 12) for his interest in the San Luis Obispo Buddhist Church Obon Festival.

The SLOBC Obon reflects Shin Buddhism, the Pure Land Tradition, and the characterizations by members of the SLOBC of our Obon were correct (“SLO County Buddhists honor ancestors, celebrate culture at Obon Festival,” Aug. 6). For Shin Buddhists, Obon is a time to remember family and express gratitude to ancestors for lessons taught, values imparted, for successes and sacrifices that made life better.

Indeed, the majority of Japanese who immigrated to the U.S. in the 19th century came from areas where Shin Buddhism was predominant. As Buddhism spread, many different schools developed. However, despite their unique beliefs and practices, they all share the fundamental teachings of the Buddha.

Mr. Paskin’s observation that Buddhism is about teachings and not ancestors is too exclusive. Putting all Buddhism in the context of three admittedly important traditions may be good for organizational purposes, but this narrowness obscures the connections between the different practices. Just as Christianity has its various traditions, so does Buddhism.

Mr. Paskin and I may have differences in our practices of Buddhism; however, my best guess is that we are one when it comes to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bob Merrick, Arroyo Grande

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