The Rev. Bob Oshita, who used gentle humor to transform the Buddhist Church of Sacramento into one of the largest of its kind in North America, is retiring after 32 years this Sunday.
“Reverend Bob,” as he is affectionately known to the 950 families in his Sangha, or congregation, gives his last sermon at 9:30 a.m. at the Jodo Shinshu Temple at 2401 Riverside Blvd.
His wife, the Rev. Patti Oshita, who has been with him the almost the entire journey, is also retiring. The Oshitas said they plan to travel and help care for her 99-year-old uncle and 93-year-old father.
Oshita, 67, has shot baskets with the children and grandchildren of congregants and made Buddhism accessible to people from various faiths and ethnic backgrounds who now attend the 117-year-old temple founded by Japanese immigrants. The church has long been a cornerstone of the Japanese American community in Sacramento and become known for its cultural activities, including the annual bazaar that occurs each August.
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Oshita, who in October 2010 recorded a popular YouTube video, “Buddhism for Dummies,” has enjoyed teaching Buddhism to children. He routinely visited the Sunday Dharma School classes taught by Patti. “If I can reach 9-year-olds, I can reach almost anyone,” he said. “Teaching the children here has helped me to better understand Buddhism.”
“Sometimes letting go is the hardest thing to do,” he said. “You love your child but have to let them go, this is life. I have to let go of my perfect eyesight, my vertical leap, my wife claims I have to let go of my perfect hearing. You take a breath of air, you hold on to it, it gives you life but you have to let it go.”
Two other core beliefs, Oshita said, are “interdependence, the seed of caring and compassion; and impermanence, the seed of caring and wisdom, which is knowing I have to be grateful for every moment of every day.”