Vietnamese Buddhist conference set

By Alicia Doyle, Ventura County Star, September 19, 2009

Monks, nuns expected at Ventura event

Ventura, CA (USA) -- A public talk and photo exhibit based on Audrey Kitagawa’s pilgrimage to the sacred sites of Lord Buddha and Mount Kailash will kick off the third annual International Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha Conference, an event in which hundreds of monks and nuns will gather to discuss plans for the future of Buddhism in the 21st century.

“Many who are Buddhists and friends of Buddhism would be coming to the temple these days,” said Tapovanaye Sutadhara, director of the Ventura Buddhist Center, which will host the event that continues today and Sunday. “This is a good opportunity to see a photo exhibition of Buddhist holy sites taken by Buddhists. Audrey Kitagawa is a spiritual leader and a Buddhist.”

The theme of the conference — designed to attract monks and nuns from areas including Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam — centers on Buddhism in an adopted homeland and the challenges.

“1975 marked the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam; since then the monastic Sangha underwent a lot of changes,” Sutadhara said. “Sangha means community. For monks and nuns who live a community life, it is very important to have their peer support for the services that they provide for the public and their spiritual growth as well.”

Sunday will feature a commemoration ceremony for departed Buddhist masters.

“This is a big event,” Sutadhara said. “Gratitude is one of the main virtues in Buddhism. Some of the monks and nuns could not attend the funerals of their own masters who were spiritual fathers and mothers of them.”

Kitagawa’s talk is from 10 to 11:30 a.m. today at the Ventura Buddhist Center, 901 S. Saticoy Ave. Discussions during the three-day event will be offered in English and Vietnamese. For more information, call 758-2028 or e-mail