Shinnyo-en Participates at Inner Dimensions of Climate Change Conference
Date: November 5, 2011
Location: Ryukyo-in in Kyoto
On Saturday, November 5, Shinnyo-en hosted a small, but very fruitful symposium at Ryukyo-in in Kyoto. The symposium centered on issues of globalization and religious pluralism and was led by a panel of four distinguished guests from the United States:
- Professor Helen Hardacre, the Reischauer Institute Professor of Japanese Religions and Society at Harvard University
- Mr. Stuart Holliday, President and CEO of the Meridian International Center in Washington, DC and former U.S. Ambassador for Special Political Affairs at the United Nations
- Professor Lori Rachelle Meeks, Associate Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages and Cultures and Co-Director of the Center for Japanese Religions and Culture at the University of Southern California
- Professor Duncan Ryuken Williams, Professor and Chair of the School of Religion and Co-Director of the Center for Japanese Religions and Culture at the University of Southern California, and an ordained Soto Zen Buddhist priest
Ambassador Holliday opened the event by discussing globalization in broad terms. He touched on the modern challenges of pluralism and concluded by pointing out that the sharing of culture and ideas is not something that can be mandated, but must be collectively realized.
Professor Meeks next gave examples of religious pluralism from within the history and traditions of Japanese Buddhism, including specific doctrines (for examples, emptiness; the avoidance of fundamentalism; the Mahayana concepts of physical and spiritual manifestations of buddhas and bodhisattvas that manifest themselves in the world to help people; and the relationship/identities of buddhas and bodhisattvas with traditional Shinto spirits).
Professor Hardacre then moved on to the topic of pluralism and religious freedom in Japan, covering the modern history of the government’s impact on religious freedom and Japanese interpretations of secularism. She also discussed the public opinion of religion and how that opinion—shaped by politics and news media—has affected new religious movements.
Professor Williams spoke about religion’s role in today’s global community. He suggested that Japan is in a position to share its deep culture—including its Buddhist traditions—with the world. Professor Williams also touched on the theme of “hybridity” and closed by talking about the historical tendency of Buddhism to move eastward. Over the last century, Buddhism has become part of the fabric of “Western” culture, partially by adjusting itself, and partially by assimilating into the existing culture. He gave several examples, citing some of Shinnyo-en’s activities (for examples, the convent-cum-temple in Redwood City, California; Shinnyo-en’s contributions to build a mosque for earthquake victims in Pakistan; and the lantern floating held on Memorial Day instead of on Obon).
The Ryukyo villa and garden were acquired by Shinnyo-en in 2005, and after extensive restoration, it has been used for Shinnyo-en-sponsored conferences, retreats, and other meetings since 2009. The property was formerly part of an estate founded by an early 20th century industrialist and was owned and used by a series of Japanese corporations throughout the century. Ryukyo-in comprises a sukya style villa and a Japanese strolling garden. The garden was designed and crafted by the famous master gardener Ogawa Jihei VII (1860-1933), also known as Ueji, who is credited with transforming the traditional Japanese garden according to the tastes of the Meiji era and society; he designed public and private gardens for some of the leading businessmen, statesmen, temples, and shrines of the time.
Water Consolatory Service and Lantern Floating
Date:August 16, 2011
Location:Lake Kawaguchi, Japan
On August 16, 2011, the Head Priest of Shinnyo-en, Her Holiness Shinso Ito, performed the annual Water Consolatory Service at the Shinchoji Annex temple on the shores of Lake Kawaguchi, Yamanashi prefecture, as part of the traditional Japanese celebration of obon honoring departed loved ones and ancestors. In the evening, lanterns were set afloat on the lake from a public venue. Lantern floating was first held at Shinnyo-en in 1936, when the Shinnyo founders set paper lanterns afloat on a small stream near Oyasono to honor the passing of their son. The service in its present form began in 1952 at Lake Kasumigaura, Ibaraki prefecture, and then expanded as it moved to its present location at Lake Kawaguchi in 1988.
At the Water Consolatory Service, Shinso Ito explains the history of this annual event held at Lake Kawaguchi in Yamanashi prefecture, Japan. Each year after the service, a lantern floating is held; this was the forerunner of a similar event now held yearly in Honolulu, Hawaii. Spiritual consolation services are held and lanterns floated on bodies of water to honor the memory of those who have passed away.
Shinnyo-en Participates at Inner Dimensions of Climate Change Conference
Date:September 7-12, 2011
On September 7-12, 2011 two members of the Shinnyo-en head temple staff participated in a conference,The Inner Dimensions of Climate Change, held in Rishikesh, India, and sponsored by The Global Peace Initiative of Women. Approximately 35 attendees from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Japan, India, Korea, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan, aged in their 20s and 30s, participated, representing the Buddhist, Hindu, Shinto, Muslim and Christian traditions. Discussions covered changes in the environment, particularly those most urgently related to water, drought, and floods in Asia. These discussions were complemented by other meetings led by spiritual leaders focused on how spiritual organizations should respond to these environmental factors with changes in mindset, attitudes, and behaviors. A keynote presentation and discussion was led by Dr. Vandana Shiva, the internationally renowned physicist and environmental activist, who spoke about her work focused on the fundamental connections between human rights and protection of the environment, with a particular focus on chemical-free agriculture and natural seeds. The conference concluded with a resolve to pursue country-specific initiatives
Shinnyo-en Documentary on Lantern Floating Hawai'i 2010 Wins WorldFest-Houston Awards
May 6, 2011
The Shinnyo-en-produced video, Lantern Floating Hawai'i 2010, won the Gold Remi Award in the Culture category and the Silver Remi Award in the Live Events category at the 44th annual WorldFest Houston Independent International Film Festival. The hour-long documentary focuses on the annual Shinnyo-en-sponsored Lantern Floating Ceremony in Honolulu exploring the personal stories of public participants. WorldFest is the oldest independent film and video festival in North America.
The Women's Conference
Oct. 25, 2010
Shinnyo-en Head Priest Her Holiness Shinso Ito, spoke to the Women's Conference 2010 in Long Beach, California on October 25. The Women's Conference® 2010 is the nation's premier forum for women, empowering women to be Architects of Change® in their own lives, their communities and the world.
Oct. 23, 2010 • Redwood City, CA, USA
The "Saisho Homa" is a prayer ritual that expresses the wish to strive for the welfare of all people. Shinnyo-en performs these ceremonies with the intention of creating peace and harmony in a world rife with uncertainty and conflicts.