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3-21-09 - Jerry Bolick's poems now on his blog. Jerry ran the Buddhist Churches of America's (Jodo Shinshu) Buddhist Bookstore on Octavia Street off Bush for years and was a friend of Ananda Claude Dalenberg's. Today the Buddhist Bookstore is no longer small, is in Berkeley and online. The bookstore was founded I believe in 1959 and was for years, as far as I know, the only Buddhist bookstore in America. It was around the corner from the old Sokoji where the SF Zen Center began. I'll try to get more on it and everything from Jerry. - dc

3-23-09 Jerry Bolick on his history with the Buddhist Bookstore and Ananda Claude Dalenberg.

The Buddhist Bookstore was founded in and around the 1960's under then BCA Bishop Tsuji and was quickly delegated to Rev. Hogen Fugimoto, who was also an early pioneer in Buddhist prison ministry in California. It was from the beginning a modest undertaking, designed to provide access to Buddhist literature to the Shinshu sangha. Over the years the collection grew and deepened and we had a very robust mail order business with a broad variety of Buddhists from around the world. For a brief period, Sarah Grayson managed the operation.

Up until four years ago, the store was located at the BCA HQ, Pine St and Octavia, next store to the Buddhist Church of SF. I left the store when it moved across the bay. It is now known as the BCA Bookstore, still alive and well and can be accessed via the net.

I have been a member of the Buddhist Church of SF for almost 30 years now. I'm the senior lay Minister's Assistant there and pleased to be in training for tokudo, or initial ordination, either this coming fall or early next winter. I met Ananda at BCSF, where he was in attendance most every Sunday. On Father's day he would come with his wife, Vera, and his two daughters. We became friends and fellow travelers very quickly, working and studying together in a variety of Shin venues over the years, both formal and informal, including many, many brown bag lunches in China town parks when I was in the corporate world in SF. Ananda loved the musical beauty of Shin liturgy, which I often chanted for him as his energies declined.

One continuous stream of conversation and investigation between us was concerning the dichotomy, or the lack thereof, between Zen and Shin. Zen is centered on zazen, of course. Shin on nembutsu, namu amida butsu, or I take refuge in Amida Buddha. I brought this up to him once when he was in the rest home and he told me that in his mind the two traditions meet where all Buddha Dharma begins and ends, that is in taking refuge. So he asked me to chant Namu, Namu, Namu.

For now, today, this is the way I remember it. Thank you for asking.




Santoka’s poem about the bell
at Eiheji, reminds me of remembering you 
when hearing the bell
when there.

Jerry Bolick


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