Beloved pets to obtain 'nirvana' Sunday at Watsonville Buddhist Temple

By Tom Ragan, Santa Cruz Sentinel, February 23, 2007

Watsonville, CA (USA) -- Sarah Nagamine has a hard time finding the words to describe her feelings regarding the death of the family cat, Mike. But her tears tell it all as she clutches the photograph, then seeks comfort in her mother's arms.

Mike, pronounced Mee-kah, died last September after she fell and broke her hip. She was buried in the family's backyard in Watsonville. She was only 4.

Although the veterinarian said he could have operated, chances were slim she'd live free of pain. So the family decided to put her down.

On Sunday, however, her name will be read, along with dozens of other pets, by the Rev. Shousei Hanayama at a special memorial service at the Watsonville Buddhist Temple.

It's the first-ever such service to be held by the temple, but it's not an unusual ceremony in Buddhist faith, said Hanayama, who's urging everybody who's ever lost a pet to attend the ceremony — regardless of faith.

"You don't have to be a Buddhist in order for your pet to obtain nirvana," said

Hanayama, who still grieves the death of his family dog, who died 20 years ago. "All beings can obtain nirvana. Just bring a picture, we'll put it up on the board at the front of the altar, and we'll extend our appreciation. If you're sad, you need to be comforted."

A refresher on the concept of nirvana: It's not the music group from Seattle, it's the higher state of being obtained by Buddhists. In Sanskrit, the word means "to extinguish"

"In this case, it means to extinguish ignorance, hatred and earthly suffering," Hanayama said.

And all species are being accepted at the 10 a.m. service, whether dogs, cats, birds, gold fish, even lizards, said Judy Nagamine, the Sunday school teacher whose fifth-and sixth-graders came up with the idea a few weeks ago.

"Pets are people, too," said Nagamine, whose daughter, Sarah, 10, is still mourning the death of Mike, whose name means "three colors" in Japanese and was suggested by Sarah's 86-year-old grandmother Hideko.

Sarah, a Rio del Mar Elementary School student, cries at the thought of Mike, but is still at a loss for words when asked to talk about the passing of her cat.

Her tears say enough. She's not alone in her grief.

Every first Sunday of the month, obituaries of animals appear in the Sentinel, space that people pay for to remember their beloved pets.

In early February, there was one placed mourning the loss of "Pretty Boy Floyd, the Gangster of Love," an incredible canine that once roamed Pleasure Point, his spirit never to be forgotten.

Bernie Mull, the owner, is still having a hard time. "The toughest time is when I come home from work. He'd be looking out the window and his tail would be beating against the front door and his head would be going between the curtains," said Mull, 48, who drives a truck for a living. "Now there's no one. He was my best friend. He was my buddy. I have him in an urn. I'm looking at it now. It says, 'In loving memory of Pretty Boy Floyd.' Where's that temple?"

Next to Pretty Boy Floyd's remembrance was that of "Honey Saville," born in 1996, died in 2007.

"Honey never met a dog or a human that she didn't like," it read. But some people don't believe that pets should have their own obituaries, especially if they're placed alongside those of humans, which was the case involving the death of Topaz, a 13-year-old dog whose remembrance ran next to that reserved for humans.

It caused a little controversy and a handful of letters to the editor.

"Topaz," the remembrance read, "was a wise dog who taught us all about life and dignity"

If you go

WHAT: Pet Memorial Service. Bring a picture, ashes or the name of your pet.

WHEN: 10 a.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Watsonville Buddhist Temple, 423 Bridge St.

Why: So that your pet obtains nirvana.

DETAILS: 724-7860.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: