Buddhists mark founding of their sect

By Mary Adamski, Honolulu Srat-Bulletin, Dec 4, 2004

Honolulu, Hawaii (USA) -- Members of seven Buddhist denominations will celebrate the founding of their religion tomorrow in a Bodhi Day service that is open to the public.

<< Dell Staggs uses pencil to sketch the Buddha. The artwork of Pacific Buddhist Academy students will be on display tomorrow at a public Bodhi Day service at Jodo Mission. COURTESY OF PACIFIC BUDDHIST ACADEMY

The 9 a.m. service at Jodo Mission of Hawaii, 1429 Makiki St., will commemorate the day more than 2,500 years ago when Shakyamuni Buddha achieved the state of enlightenment.

The Rev. Jion Donald Prosser, an American who studied Buddhism in Japan and was ordained in the Tendai sect, will be the guest speaker. Now a resident of Minnesota, he conducts seminars on Buddhism throughout the United States.

An exhibit of drawings, ink and brush paintings, and clay images of the Buddha made by Pacific Buddhist Academy ninth-graders will be on display following the service. Local ceramics artist Hideo Okino joined instructors in the art program intended to "deepen their understanding of the various Buddhas and the Buddha, thereby deepening their hope and faith." The first Buddhist high school in the United States, the academy opened last year on the Honpa Hongwanji Mission School grounds in Nuuanu.

According to Buddhist tradition, the Indian nobleman who founded Buddhism was sitting beneath a bo or bodhi tree when he reached perfect clarity of mind.

Bodhi Day events will include a tea ceremony and an exhibition of Buddhist artifacts. Refreshments will be served.

The annual event is sponsored by the Hawaii Buddhist Council, which includes Higashi Hongwanji, Honpa Hongwanji, Jodo, Nichiren, Shingon, Soto and Tendai temples.