Report on the Funeral Service in Memory of Mrs Hiroko Sato.
On the morning of 15th December 2018, a large number of people gathered to pay their respects to Mrs Hiroko Sato, who had sadly passed away a few days earlier. In fact so many people came to Three Wheels that the Buddha room soon became full, and so many people had to sit out in the garden area, which also quickly filled up to almost overflowing.
Despite the cold weather and biting wind, everyone was determined to attend, to pay their respects and say a final thank you to Hiroko san.
The Service was led by Venerable Chimyo Takehara, Head Priest of Shogyoji, our parent temple, who had come all the way from Japan to conduct the service.
Even though it was such a solemn occasion, Venerable Takehara’s chanting created an atmosphere of peace and stillness. With the very large gathering of Dharma friends and neighbours, all collectively emanating an atmosphere of genuine affection and gratitude towards her, Hiroko san’s natural kindness and caring concern for others seemed to manifest itself throughout the whole of Three Wheels. The chiming of the bells during the service added to the sense of peace and calmness.
Venerable Chimyo Takehara then gave a farewell message to Mrs Hiroko Sato, whose Dharma name he had given as: Shakyamuni’s Disciple, Good Nun Wonderful Seed. [ an exemplary nun whose shining example planted wonderful seeds in the hearts and minds of others ]. Briefly summarising he said “Hiroko san left for the Pure Land in the West very quietly, embraced by the Nembutsu of all the Dharma friends of the Sangha, which she has continued to watch over as the wife of a priest at Three Wheels. The sudden death of Hiroko san, who was still working energetically for the Sangha, was totally unexpected, sending out shock waves not only in London but also through the whole Sangha of Shogyoji Temple. At the same time all the British and Japanese Dharma friends were awakened to the fact that she was leaving behind her giant footprints in our history. In other words a mighty pillar of the Nembutsu had been erected in the Sangha. As the wife of a priest in the Sangha, Hiroko san was literally a central figure. The truth of the Buddha Dharma regenerates itself in the mind of the receiver. The source of this regeneration stems from a realm we cannot see with our eyes.
Though we may forever feel nostalgic for her actual existence, Hiroko san has returned to the Pure Land, telling us not to leave anything to regret. I am absolutely sure that it will be her legacy to keep showing us the virtue and enjoyment of working for others. Hiroko san in the Pure Land, please continue to illumine us from this day forward”.
After Venerable Takehara’s wonderful message, Professor John White talked about Hiroko san. He reminded us that without her helping her husband, Reverend Kemmyo Sato over the last 25 years, Three Wheels as we know it would certainly not be possible and perhaps might not even exist at all. He said that everyone’s own memory of Hiroko san was enough to know that she was such a wonderful person, living a life of love and selflessness. He finished by quoting a Haiku poem that he had composed for Hiroko san before he had visited her in hospital.
taking the Pure Land
of our love.
After Professor John White, Reverend Kemmyo Taira Sato, Head Priest of Three Wheels Temple, and husband of Mrs Hiroko Sato, gave a talk of thanks. He told us that Hiroko san was able to end her life peacefully and quietly just as she had wished; fully embraced in the pure love of all her Dharma friends. That on her death bed she repeated to visitors , “ I am very happy “, “Absolutely satisfied”, “There is nothing to regret”, “Thank you very much for all that you have done for me” and “I continue to live in the Nenbutsu. I live on in the Nenbutsu forever together with you”. He thanked everyone for their kindness towards Hiroko san, especially Venerable Chimyo Takehara and his wife Bomori sama, who had come all the way from Japan, and also Professor John White, for everything that they had done for her and for Three Wheels. He once again thanked Venerable Takehara for the very special Dharma name that he had given Hiroko san, and said how happy she would be to receive it in the Pure Land.
After Reverend Kemmyo Sato’s talk of thanks the chanting of sutras continued and during this time everyone paid their respects and showed their gratitude by joining in with the burning of incense, known as O – shoko. This was carried out by everyone with the utmost respect for Hiroko san, and in gratitude for all that she had done for us, and due to the large number of people in attendance, the chanting had to be extended to allow everyone to finish doing so.
Then, with the same attitude of respect and gratitude, everyone silently placed flowers in her coffin , and were able to say their final thank you and goodbye.
For the last 25 years, Hiroko san had been helping Reverend Kemmyo Sato with the development of Three Wheels and it’s Sangha, and without doubt she has planted the seed of the Buddha Dharma in everyone in that Sangha. She was able to and still continues to make the Buddhist teachings come to life and have real meaning, and her kindness and unconditional welcome towards anyone who visited will always resonate throughout Three Wheels.
As Venerable Chimyo Takehara and Reverend Kemmyo Sato tell us, she will always be in the Nenbutsu together with us, and will always continue to illumine us, helping us on our journey to the Pure Land.
Namu Amida Butsu