Seabrook Buddhist Temple celebrates 60th year

By SANDRA JOHNSON-BOHANNAN, Bridgeton News, November 5, 2005

UPPER DEERFIELD TWP., New Jersey (USA) -- A weekend celebration and awakening for 60 years of Buddhism is coming to the township.

"Attaining the Other Shore: The Buddhist Awakening" is a two-hour workshop given by Rev. Ron Kobata, which highlights a two-day event at Seabrook Buddhist Temple on Nov. 12 and 13.

Rev. Naoki Kono, who has been with the Seabrook temple since 2003, feels that Buddhism has changed over time in America.

"I would like Americans to fully know and understand the Jodo Shinshu Buddhism," said Kono.

Kono said that 60 years ago, Jodo Shinshu members were Issei and came from Japan.

"Issei people had been firmly in the Jodo Shinshu environment in Japan," he said. "That means that they had long historical Buddhism tradition so much without consciousness."

He said that Japanese-Americans and all people now currently live their lives with material things, the economy and human reasoning.

"The next generation and then later generations (those who were born in America) are not getting the Buddhist influence from their parents, who have Western mentalities as the priority," Kono said. "The youth of original Buddhist parents are less involved in our temple now."

He feels the young families are also not settling in the area and with the temple because of lack of local industry that used to thrive with Seabrook Farms 60 years ago, which would allow a more prosperous family life.

The temple wants to bring the Jodo Shinshu Buddhism to more people, including members of other religions and students who are interested in learning more about it.

The three laws of Buddhism, Kono explained, are: "All things are impermanent," "All elements are non-substantial," and "nirvana is quiescence (or tranquility)."

Kono explains all three as Buddhists teach them:

"Everything in the world will continue to change and never stay even in a moment," Kono said. "Our mind, body, and all phenomena and things in the world will must continue to change.

"Buddhism tells us that oneself has no static substance. The self is temporary existence. Buddhism is a teaching of non-self, (without) ego.

"The perfect Buddhist's awakening, Nirvana is a life condition of all of the blind passion in a Buddhist has disappeared and the silence, which blazes of the blind passion, has been blown off."

The workshop will be held on Nov. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m., and Rev. Kobata will answer any questions from attendees, while light refreshments are served. A $5 minimum donation is suggested.

The special 60th anniversary service, presided over by both Kono and Kobata, will take place on Nov. 13 at 11 a.m.

A luncheon will be served after the service, but a $12 reservation is required in advance.

Kono is Seabrook Buddhist Temple's resident minister, and he was born and raised in Kyoto, Japan.

Kono graduated with a bachelor's degree from Kyoto Sangyo University and went to grad school at Chuo Bukkyo Gakuin.

He was ordained in Tokudo (1990), Kyoshi (1991) and Kaikyoshi (1992).

Kobata graduated with a bachelor's degree from Berkeley, and has his master's from the Institute of Buddhist Studies.

He has been assigned to various Buddhist temples in Washington and Hawaii.

Kobata was most recently assigned to Makawao Hongwanji temple in Maui, Hawaii and appointed in Feb. 2005 as executive assistant to Bishop Koshin Ogui.

For more information or reservations, please contact the temple at 451-3422 and leave a message.