Celebrating the Enlightenment of Shakyamuni

December 08, 2011
Shinnyo-en Ogen’in Temple Complex, Tachikawa

On December 8, 2011 Shinnyo-en celebrated the Feast of Enlightenment, the annual honoring of the achievements of Buddha and other enlightened spiritual masters through the ages who paved the way for us to also aspire to spiritual liberation.

According to tradition, the historical Siddhartha Gautama (often called the Shakyamuni Buddha, meaning the enlightened person who was born in the Shakya clan) abandoned his extreme ascetic practices which had failed to lead him to enlightenment and resolved to meditate under a bodhi tree until he discovered the root of suffering and path to liberation.

His enlightenment sitting under the bodhi tree is celebrated each year as the Feast of the Enlightenment, one of the three major Buddhist commemorations of significant events in the Buddha's life (the others being commemorations of his birth and his passing).

Shinnyo-en's head priest, Shinso Ito, conducted the service at the main altar of Shinnyo-en's headquarters temple in Tachikawa, near Tokyo, the Ogen Center. Prayers of gratitude were offered to the Buddha, who teaches the unchanging truths of the universe. The ceremony was conducted in front of the statue of the Nirvana Buddha, which was sculpted by Shinnyo-en founder, Shinjo Ito, the most important icon of Shinnyo-en teaching, a representation of the Buddha during his last teaching as he offers a joyous and compassionate vision of enlightenment that is accessible to all people.

Head Priest Shinso Ito was very pleased to share the celebration of with clergy of other faith traditions, the Swami Medhasananda of the Ramakrishna Mission, Vendanta Society of Japan and Rabbi Anotonio Di Gesu of the Jewish Community of Japan.

Rabbi Gesu said, "Attending the service commemorating Buddha's enlightenment was one of the most unique experiences I've had since I have been in Japan. Sitting with representatives of two other religions reinforced my conviction that persons of faith can go beyond theological differences and connect using a common language that will help them work together for the growth and improvement of all humanity."

Swami Medhasananda said," The ceremony was very solemn and serene," and he invited Shinnyo-en to participate at an important interfaith ceremony that he will conduct in March 2012.