Molokai hosts Buddhism conference

By Nancy Hall, Molikai Times, April 30, 2007

Molokai, Hawaii (USA) -- Molokai's tiny Buddhist community hosted the state's 42nd annual women's association conference April 28- 29. Ten families made all the arrangements simply by working day and night for months.

"After all of those years, Molokai stepped up to the plate," said Faye Komagata, who comes from Wahiawa Ryusenji Soto Mission on Oahu every week to help maintain the sense of community here. Her husband, Rev. Shugen Komagata, has for 11 years led a Sunday service once a month at Molokai's Guzeiji Soto Mission.

Soto is a sect of Zen Buddhism, according to Rose Mayer, master of ceremonies for the occasion.

A total of 120 members from seven other temples on the Big Island, Oahu and Maui stayed overnight at The Lodge at Molokai Ranch. A service on Saturday filled the temple, located just off Ala Malama Boulevard. Offerings of flowers and incense celebrated the day, and Bishop Jiho Machida officiated.

After a Sunday morning service on a beach pavilion and meditation time, conferees had lunch at the Lanikeha Center.

As the woman of the Molokai mission supervised meal service, Faye Komagata remarked on their strength.

"The women are wonderful, very organized," she said. "They get together every week and have some fellowship and do good things that support the temple."

Mayer, who has studied Zen Buddhism for 15 years, called it a small but committed community of faith. Zazen, or meditation, is held at the temple from 5 to 6:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturdays from 6:30 to 7 a.m. Meditation from 8:30 to 10 a.m. precedes the Sunday service, usually on the third Sunday of the month. To confirm these times, call 558-8460.

Women are taking on more responsibilities at a time when Buddhism is changing, as the minister's wife said, "in shape and color and form - all within the teachings of Buddha." Buddhism is a growing religion worldwide, her husband said.

"In America, we recognize choice," he said. "We need to, not only to increase our numbers, but enjoy the Buddhist vision."

The religion came to Hawaii from Japan about 100 years ago, he said. But people in Hawaii are no longer satisfied to stay within the framework of one cultural group, he said. It's time to give up the status quo.

"We recognize the time has come to make it alive to a new generation," he said, "many of whom are unaware of cultural heritage."

About a dozen children attended the luncheon as well as several young adults. One was Rabjee Koncho, a young Tibetan Buddhist monk, who is spending one year at the Daifukuji Soto Mission on Oahu.

He wore a traditional plum colored robe, with a bright red tee shirt that said TIBET in white, along with some lei.

Rev. Komagata thanked Molokai's guests as they departed, some to catch planes and others to visit Kalaupapa Lookout.

"Look for changes," he said as a final thought, "not in the teaching, but in the sharing."