Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Sat Nov 30, 2013 5:05 pm

I have just now arrived home after attending this event. It was a remarkable experience in many respects; I will make more comments on it soon, when my jetlagged brain is functioning better, but for now I'd just like to say that it was a great delight to make contact with more DharmaWheel members in meat space on this trip, particularly Jikai and Coldwater. details here:

http://www.tendai.or.jp/oshirase/image/1310_02_en.pdf

Here's to future opportunities for mutual support, collaboration, and learning. May the Dharma flourish in all lands.
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Seishin » Sat Nov 30, 2013 7:13 pm

I'm glad you enjoyed it and got home safe. I look forward to hearing all about it :)

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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Sat Nov 30, 2013 11:43 pm

It was a very busy few days. There were many speeches and public comments made, and these were interesting and often useful. Something else made a deeper impression on me, though (or rather somethings-else): the people and the places. The shomyo of the current Zasu of Tendai-shu was stirring and energetic, and his attention to us was deeply felt (the role of zasu is loosely analogous to that of Karmapa or Sakya Trizen, the spiritual leader of this tradition and set of institutions). There are other examples.

Of course, if you have the ability to travel, even if you have to make some sacrifices, DO make a visit to Hiei-san. I'm completely at a loss for words. Crowdsource funding for a pilgrimage if you have to. Just go there.

I expect many positive developments to emerge from this brief meeting. It can't hurt to have people who are trying to make this work in Brazil, Hawaii, Australia, India, North America, and Europe trading experience and practical knowledge and resources. I'm nothing short of delighted that Tendai-shu has the needs of its international sangha on its agenda as an organization.

Above all, I'm deeply grateful to the Jigyodan of Tendai-shu for organizing and funding this event, and for inviting me to participate in it. I feel strongly motivated to put what I've learned to advantage in our little practice group in Washington, DC, and I hope to see some of the friends I made at this event here or elsewhere in the future.

My mind is still grappling with this experience, so I'm not sure what else to day about this event. That said, I will be updating the "resources" thread to include more international Tendai people and practice groups, &c...
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Seishin » Sun Dec 01, 2013 8:55 am

Awesome! :twothumbsup:
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 02, 2013 2:10 pm

I'd like to post some excerpts from some of the papers that were given at the symposium that seem relevant to the board and to this juncture.

These are from the paper "Tendai Overseas and its Future" by Monshin Paul Naamon, abbot of the Tendai Buddhist Institute:

Japanese Tendai offers a traditional form of Buddhism that is perhaps best suited to this post-modern environment. It is inclusive, eclectic, and it transcends polarization. There are a wide variety of practices and a rich interplay between the absolute and provisional worlds. It defies fundamentalism at the same time it eschews 'new age' self-importance. [...]

In discussions about what Tendai should look like outside of Japan with laity and those who seek ordination there is a common complaint. Comments consistently aired have been, 'Japanese Tendai is excessively Japanese, Tendai should be more American or Western', 'it is based on medieval socio-historic-economic values', 'it is very hierarchic', etc.

I disagree. The forgoing attitudes are parochial; often egoecentric. Of course Japanese Tendai is Japanese with a strong sense of history and hierarchy. it has evolved over a 1200 year period. Before we claim a Western or country specific form of Tendai, one needs to have a broader, less narrow-minded view of Tendai. Those who employ a more thorough appraisal of Japanese Buddhism are aware of just how much change Tendai has undergone since the mid-19th century, and especially in the last 30 years. It does need to adapt, but not in ways that the critics often cite. Many forms of Buddhism, including International Tendai, are looking at short term growth and development by accomodating social trends that compromise basic Buddhist values. Among these trends is the tendency to subordinate the practices and teachings to a common denominator, to make the practices easy rather than challenging and inspiring. Spiritual growth is not easy, it is not intended to be a hobby or an activity for dilettantes. Tendai Buddhadharma is a sacred path that leads to a better life and world. [...]

I propose the basis of International Tendai, for laity and ordained, should be awakening of the participant through practices, devotion, and study. This in turn leads to positive contributions to self, family, society, and the environment, engaged service to others, integration of the sacred and the provisional to attain peace and equanimity on earth and an assurance of liberation, now and in the future.
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Seishin » Mon Dec 02, 2013 2:51 pm

That is very interesting and I agree with Monshin-Sensei there. :smile:

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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:05 pm

Seishin wrote:That is very interesting and I agree with Monshin-Sensei there. :smile:

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As you might guess, I'm entirely in agreement with you! :lol: In fact, our little group in DC/NoVA is at a crossroads--we've grown to the point where we're no longer exactly a small group of people who practice together, but we're not yet a temple (nor are we prepared to become a temple just yet, but we may get there by the end of 2014). I've asked our members to read and reflect on Monshin sensei's comments as we lay the groundwork for our future development, of which more at the link below if anyone is interested in having a look

http://www.bigtent.com/group/forum/mess ... 58393?ff=1
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:19 pm

Jiryo Andrew Moxon's paper, "Overseas Mission and the Future of Tendai Buddhism," emphasized the development of institutions such as temples. I think his paper should provoke a serious discussion over the strategic question, What is To Be Done, and who should be responsible for taking the initiative in moving ahead. Here is Jiryo sensei's position on this question:

growth depends on 'Impetus and Nourishment'. 'Unity and Uniformity', can also be placed under these. In order for overseas Tendai Shu to grow, it requires impetus from its source. This means firstly, Hieizan itself needs to provide the means/impetus to invest in its own (Tendai Shu) survival.


To me, the question that follows from this is rather obvious: what sort of means or impetus is appropriate or necessary? It seems to me that Tendai-shu has material resources and many centuries of knowledge, practical knowledge in training teachers and leaders, that will be essential to any growth of the kind Jiryo sensei envisions. I think this topic of what international Tendai people ought to ask of or expect from Tendai-shu is one that will be debated, and should be. I'm not sure I agree entirely with the view that Hiei-zan needs to be the instigator of growth in the first instance, or primarily. In my opinion, we will do well to reflect on the outcomes of previous investments by Tendai-shu in overseas temples to evaluate what has worked and what has not when Hiei-zan is asked to instigate such change, and to consider the outcomes when institutions are built from the bottom-up outside Japan in comparison, before settling on any policy for development.

Jiryo sensei strikes to the heart of the matter here:

Tendai Shu has been a solely Japanese Buddhist tradition for over a 1,000 years and has incorporated elements in to itself to meet the needs of the Japanese people. However, Buddhism is also universal as indeed Tendai philosophy is also universal and therefore can be applied, with thought and care, almost anywhere. But this requires some measure of change and flexibility.


Well spoken.
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Seishin » Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Funnily enough, I was thinking the same thing but wasn't sure about posting it as I don't really want to upset anyone. It most definitely takes two to tango! Hieizan and Japan have a wealth of knowledge which is begging to be translated and shared but they also need to know that "we" are committed enough to use that knowledge. We have to show that we are committed and willing to travel for teachings to study hard and practice. And by unified in our commitment :smile:

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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 02, 2013 5:17 pm

Seishin wrote:Funnily enough, I was thinking the same thing but wasn't sure about posting it as I don't really want to upset anyone. It most definitely takes two to tango! Hieizan and Japan have a wealth of knowledge which is begging to be translated and shared but they also need to know that "we" are committed enough to use that knowledge. We have to show that we are committed and willing to travel for teachings to study hard and practice. And by unified in our commitment :smile:

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Seishin


Yes, I think there needs to be a meaningful exchange from the top down and the bottom up (or perhaps from the periphery to the center and back and forth) in this instance. Here's what I mean: Let's say that the Tendai overseas development office (the Jigyodan) would like to help promote a temple in a certain country. They know very well how to run and maintain temples, but they may not know the ins and outs of the local community, or may even misunderstand it to some extent. This is where the knowledge of those who are working in that community is essential to ensure that whatever investment is made in that temple is made to best advantage. There is already some history of this in the last forty or fifty years, in Tendai-shu and in other Buddhist schools. I think we can learn from this history: how to get the outcomes that are intended, and what approaches are to be avoided, &c.

I think Ganshin sensei's paper, which was brief but direct and succinct, made a related point with regard to his experience in the UK and the particular needs he has:

The next step is to introduce more of Dengyo Daishi's teachings specifically. But to do this effectively we would require additional support from Japan, ideally by sending us an English speaking Japanese monk to assist us, but so far my appeal for such a person has not been fulfilled.

I shall therefore continue to do the best I can with what I have.


It's clear to me that everyone without exception involved in Tendai-shu overseas is doing the best he or she can with the available resources, which are very limited indeed in most contexts. Open question: what resources would make it possible for these persons to do more with their time and effort, that is, to work more effectively? I think this question will get different answers in different contexts...

PS. It's unfortunate that Ganshin sensei could not have made this trip. His absence was felt. I know I am not the only one who expressed an interest in meeting him and learning a bit from his many years' experience. Seishin, would you please pass this bit along to him, along with warm wishes from us all? thanks!
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Seishin » Mon Dec 02, 2013 5:35 pm

Will do Jikan, and thankyou for the kind words towards our dear Ganshin-Sensei. :smile:
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 02, 2013 7:35 pm

I wish I was able to make some kind of summary or report of the esteemed Ryokan Ara Sensei's address to the symposium, but I'm afraid this is not possible. I think Ara sensei gave his comments extemporaneously, which means that there was no translation available in English (the symposium was essentially bilingual in English and Japanese: papers submitted by the deadline in one language were prepared for translation into the other, so that speakers of Japanese could follow the Anglophone presentations and vice versa). My aptitude in Japanese language is positively dismal. I was able to glean that his comments were primarily personal in nature, and reflected his forty years' experience in the great state of Hawaii, USA.

Here's Ara sensei's website: http://www.tendaihawaii.org/

It's worth taking a moment to review the photographs and links there, even if you can't read a single kanji of Japanese. The intended audience for this website is clearly on the Asian edge of the Pacific, not the middle or the North American side, where English is the lingua franca, including among Japanese Americans after the first generation or two. That said, it's not impossible to learn from it, particularly to see what's going on, who is participating in what way, &c.

If I am able to track down a translation or summary of Ara Sensei's presentation, I will share it here.
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 02, 2013 8:05 pm

Eshin Irene Matsumoto's paper, "Tendai Overseas 40th Anniversary Report," emphasized her temple's ongoing activities. Speaking personally, I was impressed by how active and vital this temple is, particularly in interfaith programs and numerous community organizations. From her paper (this portion was read in both English and Japanese for emphasis):

The comment that I often receive is "I am glad you speak and understand English." Being bi-lingual is an asset.


This role of languages other than Japanese is an important one--another open question. The previous day we had chanted the Heart Sutra in the Konpon Chudo... in English... in the presence of the current Zasu. This provoked a number of conversations among participants afterward.

http://web-japan.org/museum/temple/temp ... ple06.html
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:21 pm

I limited my own remarks to what I've seen in the US, and the particulars of our group's experience in Washington, DC. Quoted below is the point I really wanted to drive home to our friends in Japan, who may not understand in an immediate or visceral way what it's like to live in a multicultural society. For reference, in the town where we meet for services, Alexandria, there is a farmer's market that is billed as one of the oldest continually operating farmer's markets in the country. What is left unsaid is that this is a market where, for much of its history, you could buy farmers. This is not ancient history.

There's a way in which the universal message of the Tendai teachings as described by Jiryo sensei are especially relevant in the American context:

This is a fundamental question: what can Tendai-shu offer to contemporary Americans that no other Buddhist teaching, and really no other kind of activity, can offer? I would like to suggest three answers to this question, recognizing that there are surely many more, because they show how Tendai Buddhism can make a contribution to people's lives that nothing else can.
1. The Ekayana teachings of the Lotus Sutra tell us that all beings have the capacity for Buddhahood. It follows that all beings are ultimately united and equal, even if appearances say otherwise. This idea is very powerful and very healing in the United States, where deep divisions persist in terms of race, region, class, gender, and politics.
2. This means Tendai-shu has a way to bring people together, to co-operate, to build meaningful relationships on the basis of the Buddha's teachings (go-en). I am told we are very sociable and community-oriented, in comparison to other Buddhist groups in the U.S. This characteristic is appreciated by our regular sangha members. I appreciate it very much myself.
3. At the same time, the variety of practices available in Tendai-shu, as compared to the single-practice schools or forms of meditation taught by psychotherapists, is most appropriate to serve a very diverse community. We have a saying: “you have to meet people where they are.”
I have reason to believe that if we emphasize these three characteristics in working with laypeople, then Tendai-shu will have a bright future in the United States.


Obviously, I had a hard time articulating some of this in a way that would be accessible, concise, precise, and appropriate to the audience and the place. I hope my comments were of some use regardless. It was a great honor and privilege to be invited to speak at this event, and to be treated with such great kindness and generosity.
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:22 pm

Two of the papers at the Symposium concerned different kinds of projects underway in the US state of California. The differences between these two papers were striking.

Keisho Leary described his work in establishing and developing California Tendai Monastery, and laid out his vision for it as specifically as one could given the time constraints. This is representative of Keisho sensei's vision:

CTM wishes to fulfill a small niche under the large and diverse Tendai umbrella of kengyo and mikkyo, householders and renunciates, scholars and practitioners, and men and women. That small niche is for those men who wish to lead a monastic life, that is, the full-time religious life of a renuncate, while maintaining the rules of celibacy, vegetarian diet, and abstention from intoxicants, along with other precepts of the bodhisattva path. And because of the monastery's extensive natural surroundings, forest-dwelling seclusion is also a real possibility [...] Full-time residency at the monastery will be limited to monks and aspirants. However there is also a program of religious practice for householders, both men and women, consisting of weekend visits devoted to participation in Shugendo activites such as kaji kito, saito goma, and kaihogyo.

Strongly believing that religion should not be a business, we will provide all teachings, practices and facilities free-of-charge, in line with the saying, "the bodhisattva is for giving, not for taking." It is frequently asked, "How do you support your monastery?" The answer is that the monks themselves, once they have reached the stage of fully-committed monks, will support the monastery. Truly they have faith in the words of Dengyo Daishi: "Doshin no naka ni ejiki ari; ejiki no naka ni doshin nashi." Roughly translated, this is, "In following the Bodhisattva Path there will be food and clothes, but in food and clothes there is no Bodhisattva Path."



In contrast to the specificity with which Keisho sensei laid out current and future developments at CTM, the last paper of the symposium, "Dharma Activities and Overseas Mission & the Future of Tendai Buddhism" by Ryoei Tyler of Hawaii Tendai Institute's California Learning Center, was a bit of a puzzler for me. Ryoei sensei proceeded at a high level of abstraction, roping in concepts from mathematics. I was no longer able to follow her argument after this sentence:

It shows that two seemingly unrelated quantities, namely, curvature and Euler characteristic are related; the integral of the Gaussian curvature over a surface is equal to the topological property of the surface multiplied by 2 π


Meanwhile, before I could figure out what the Gauss Bonnet Theorem meant in terms of practical Dharma activities in the Sacramento Valley, I had to reckon with the question of whether an analysis of quantity was warranted to describe the fundamentally qualitative phenomenon that is religious life, experience, and activity. With apologies to Rev. Tyler, I still don't get it. Regardless, the paper concluded with a kind of reflection on the structure of samsara, the historical and phenomenal world:

What is happening to one entity is, in fact, the end result of the totality of the history of the universe and the effects of the totality of what is happening to everything (human, animals, fish, plants, rocks, air, water to name a few in the universe. The transmission of the teachings of Buddhism is the same. What we are doing is the end result of the totality of the history of the universe.

I plan to continuously reflect on the relationship of local and global point of view and to transmit the teachings of Dengyou Daishi Saicho as a local organization in Sacramento California and also as a part of the whole of the Overseas Mission of Tendai Buddhism.


I would very much like to learn a little bit about how this organization, the California Learning Center, operates locally and as a part of the Overseas Mission, apropos of the relation between local and global structures. What's going on day to day, or week to week, at this center?
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:27 pm

Five other papers given at the symposium are relevant to DharmaWheel. Each of them concerned Tendai Buddhist practices and institutions underway in countries with very different demographics, needs, resources, and histories: Canada, Italy, Denmark, Brazil, and India. Of these, only the Brazilian temple serves a substantial community with a historical and cultural tie to Japan (the descendents of Japanese immigrants to Brazil), and only India has a historical tie to Buddhist practice generally.


The development of Tendai Buddhism in Canada, as Innen Ray Parchelo explained in "The Story of Tendai Canada," is a relatively recent phenomenon. Innen described the process of several small practice groups emerging organically in different regions of this very large and sparsely populated country. How else could it be? This has required a measure of creativity and persistence in maintaining the social ties that are the substrate of continuity in practice groups. Innen has also been active in integrating certain Tendai practices, such as the kaihogyo, within Western culture, creating in the process something called a "manda-lab" (you will have to ask Innen what this is and how one practices with it).

Details: http://www.realperson.com/wisdom.htm

I would be interested to know if there were any Tendai practitioners or networks among early Japanese immigrants to Canada. If anyone can shed some light on this history, please do share.

(I suspect that Innen's manda-lab is distinct from the mandalab project underway elsewhere in Canada, but I can't help but wonder if one may be informed by the other or if it's merely coincidental: http://imaginationforpeople.org/en/project/mandalab/ )
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:40 pm

Fushin Franz Zampiero leads Tenrauzanji, a Tendai temple in northern Italy. According to Fushin, this project includes:

1. a small room dedicated to Amida Buddha, which is now almost completed 90%;
2. A larger room dedicated to the Buddha Shakyamuni;
3. A Dojo built entirely in wood and eco-friendly material for the practice of Budo and other disciplines coming from oriental experience;
4. A stupa;
5. Some small wooden houses for the accommodation of persons.


...this among many other projects in which he is involved, inclusive of work in the city hospital of Verona and in the prisons of the city of Treviso (equally for prisoners and the police!), partnership with Buddhist organizations within Italy, and connections among Sri Lankan and Vietnamese immigrant groups.
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:09 pm

Shomon Pia Trans' paper described in some detail the extensive and intensive Dharma activities she's initiated in Denmark. Since her paper was itself a summary of these projects, it is not easy to summarize! This excerpt is representative and suggestive of her accomplishments and that of the sangha she leads:

Now, around 300 families belong to the Tendai Sangha. We use our Dharma Centre for sangha meetings, study classes and other events, and we have small groups in all of Denmark's four biggest cities, all of which meet locally on weekly or monthly basis. This means that no person in DK is more than a good 100km away from a Tendai group


There are translations into Danish, and collaborations with interested persons elsewhere in Europe (esp. in Scandinavia) underway as well. So many things going on and springing up... it's really quite wonderful and difficult not to be impressed with how much has been accomplished in a relatively short window of time in Denmark.

One question I've never quite had the nerve to ask the Danish sangha concerns the kaihogyo. Denmark is a lovely place, but geographically, it's flat. There are no mountains to speak of. Is it necessary to travel abroad in order to practice around a mountain?
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Thu Dec 05, 2013 8:58 pm

Myoko Yanagisawa reported on the activities of Jogan-ji Temple in Brazil (Communida de Budista Jogan-ji, Diadema, Brasil)

Jogan-ji is a branch temple of Kihara Fudosan, Choju-Ji temple in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan. Here is a representative excerpt of this paper that gives some insight into what is going on here:

Besides the monthly goma ceremony, we conduct ceremonies for O-Higan, O-bon, anniversary of deceased, Setsubon (The bean-throwing festival to welcome New Year) and weddings. These Buddhist ceremonies are primarily for Japanese Brazilians. For these ceremonies, we need to explain the meaning of the offering and why we need an alter and a cenotaph. These explanations are important because some Japanese-Brazilians who have converted into other religion(s) request us to take possession of their family altars and everythign that goes with the altars. many modern Japanese-Brazilians do not know the reason why they have the altar and cenotaphs in their homes. We give a Dharma talk in Portuguese only when many of the attendees are young Brazilians. We conduct funeral services also, however, we have to bury the corpse the day after one has passed away because of the difference in our culture. Because of this, the time the families and friends of the deceased have a reduced time with their loved one compared to Japanese style Buddhist funeral ceremony. For the services for prayers, we mainly listen to their problems at home or work, and we conduct services for pacifying spirits or purification for a car, office and house. We also perform the service for Yaku-doshi: unfortunate years based on a traditional Japanese astrology.
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Re: Symposium: 40th Anniversary of Tendai-Shu Outside Japan

Postby Jikan » Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:02 pm

The last paper I would like to excerpt for the gallery here at DW concerns Zenjorin Temple and Pannya Metta Sangha, led by Hoten Sangharatna Manake. (this is in the village Ruyad, near Nagpur, India)

Consider this:

At Mt. Chikei a Big Buddha Service is held on February 6th and Zenjorin Annual Festival Service is held on February 8th. We also have services on the New Moon and the Full Moon every month, Buddha's birthday in May, Attaining Enlightenment and Vesakha Nirvana Full Moon Ceremony. Twenty thousand to 30,000 people attend the services on February 6th and 8th, and thousands of people attend services for Full Moon and such. Zenjorin Temple and Mt. Chikei play a huge role in the revival of Buddhism in India.


Some of this has a connection to the legacy of Dr. Ambedkar and his followers, surely, but that can't be the only explanation for this extraordinary level of participation.
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