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Monday, December 01, 2008

TBMSG in Japan: presenting Indian Buddhist Youth work

Five members of TBMSG, the FWBO’s Indian wing, are just back (in India) from attending the annual World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth conference, which this year was held in Japan. This is a major step onto the international Buddhist stage for them, and Yashosagar, one of the delegates and chairman of TBMSG, has sent us this report –

“The 24th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) and the 15th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth (WFBY) was devoted to the subject of “The Buddhist Contribution to Resolving Social Problems”; it was held from 14th to 17th November 2008 at the Asakusa View hotel, in Asakusa Japan.

“370 people from all over the world attended the conference of WFB and WFBY (WFBY is the youth section of the WFB). Nearly twelve countries’ regional centers were present.

“The WFBY’s purpose is to promote and strengthen understanding and practice of the teaching of the Lord Buddha among youth and increase respect and piety towards the Triple Gem, our parents, elders and to each other. It aims to promote unite, solidarity and networking among young Buddhists around the world.

“TBMSG is one of the Regional Centres of WFB and WFBY in India, and Priyadarshi and I made a special presentation of our work and especially our youth work. We presented Dr. Ambedkar’s contribution to Buddhism and also what we are doing in India, our activities in India, particularly the new situation which is arising in India for the growth of Buddhism. We were able to show the great influence of our work is having in India on people’s minds. People felt very happy to see our slideshow, the living Buddhism in India.

After the presentation were Symposiums – Dhammamitra Mangesh Dahiwale was also invited to speak on ‘Buddhism Past Present and Future’, particularly on the youth’s situation. One of the panelists from Japan expressed his concern over the isolation of youths in Japan from Buddhism. He expressed the need for youth’s participation in Buddhism and the social action.

Yashosagar and some new friends in Japan“Interaction with many people from the different parts of the world is the most important part of this conference in our view. To share with each other what we are doing and what we can do together. Actually it was a great occasion to meet many Buddhist people throughout the world - making contact with them gives you an idea of their situation and work they do.

“Later on a Prayer and Procession for world peace was arranged; all 370 of us silently walked to Senso-ji Temple where we held peace prayers and then a Traditional Tea Ceremony. All the people were served the green Japanese tea by the Japanese Sisters in their traditional dresses.

“The WFBY youth conference concluded by organizing a two year action plan. We in India are having a special youth program in January 2009 - Dr. Ong See Yew, the new Vice- President of WFBY, is coming with Young Buddhists from Malaysia to our centre in India (Bhaja, Pune) to do workshops on youth leadership. Most likely youths from other WFBY regional centres like Nepal, Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh will also take part in this program.

We are currently fundraising for this and other youth work in India, please do contribute if you wish to assist us.

“Now we are looking forward to our Youth leadership development program in January 2009. The connection we make during the conference help us to be in touch with each other and share what we do and cooperate with each other to help the youth from the world and youth from India.

“Yours in the Dhamma, Yashosagar

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rijumati's travels, part VII - following Kukai in Japan...

Part VII of Rijumati’s travels is now available on FWBO Features. He says -

“Dear Friends,“Here is a long piece about my 7 day walk along part of the ancient 88 Temples pilgrimage route around Shikoku island, known sometimes as the ‘Shikoku 88’. This was one of the highlights of my time in Japan, both in terms of stunning scenes and personal reflections. I found the pilgrimage very inspiring and challenging and I intend to return to Japan at some point and finish the 1200km walk (I only did the first 175km on this occasion). It was such a valuable experience that I would strongly recommend it to anyone, even those who don't consider themselves Buddhist.

“The Shikoku 88 is absolutely not a pleasant ramble. Undertaken by foot, it is hard-graft walking, often along busy highways, sometimes without even the protection of a pavement. Naturally the route, wherever possible, takes in the glorious beauty of Shikoku island: its mountains and forests, cliffs and rivers, the sky and the sea. But it is definitely a mixed bag.

“So the question "why?" remains. The official reason is that through undertaking the pilgrimage one enlists the aid and support of one of the greatest of all Buddhist saints, Kukai or Kobo Daishi as he is honorifically known in Japan. Kukai was born on Shikoku in the 8th century, was enlightened at Shikoku's southern cape, Muroto, and is attributed with founding most of the sacred 88 temples on the pilgrimage. Many of the temples tell special stories about Kukai's visit: here he conquered a dragon, here he carved a Buddha, here he created a stream that always runs pure.

“Yet in a sense there is no universal answer to this question. The answer must be sought in the heart of every would-be or actual henro, or pilgrim…”

Read the full account of his pilgrimage on FWBO Features here.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rijumati's travels - Part VI - Hiroshima, Kyoto, and more in Japan

Rijumati, an Order Member from Cambridge UK, has been travelling the world since the end of last year, making every effort to avoid flying. His travels have taken him from the UK by cargo ship to Sri Lanka, across India, to Russia and Japan.

He has now published part 6 of his travel journal, which includes visits to Hiroshima, Kyoto, Honshu, and elsewhere. His travels are often in the spirit and even the footsteps of the great Buddhist Japanese poet Basho. As Rijumati himself writes -

Ah, so wonderful
To meet a friend along the Way
The boats and trains
Grow weary of my solitude.

Part 6 can be accessed here, and you can find parts 1-5 on FWBO Features.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

On pilgrimage in Japan - Rijumati's travels part V

FWBO News is pleased to publish part V of Order Member Rijumati's travel diaries, as he heads around the world after many year's work in Right Livelihood in Cambridge, UK.

Part V is an account of his pilgrimage in Japan to the four Japanese Teachers on the Western Buddhist Order’s Refuge Tree (shown opposite) – Hakuin, Kukai, Dogen, and Shinran.

The Refuge Tree as a whole contains some 42 figures from across the whole Buddhist tradition, being those the Order draws on most strongly for teaching and inspiration. It's a symbol of the highest ideals of Buddhism, a traditional image that takes different forms in different schools. Modern Buddhists might be regarded as heirs to the whole of the Buddhist tradition and the Refuge Tree of the Western Buddhist Order includes figures from India, Tibet, China and Japan as well as archetypal Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and the teachers whose guidance helped to shape Sangharakshita’s understanding of Buddhism. An excellent introduction can be found in ‘Teachers of Enlightenment’, by Kulananda.

Click here to read about Rijumati’s visit to Shinran’s place of exile, on the coast of northwest Honshu; Eiheiji, Dogen’s monastery (which Rijumati unflatteringly describes as a “Buddhist airport departure gate”); Kukai’s remote mountain forest plateau at Koyasan - whence come the famous lines

“You ask me why I entered the mountain deep and cold,
Awesome, surrounded by steep peaks and grotesque rocks,
A place that is painful to climb and difficult to descend,
Wherein reside the gods of the mountain and the spirits of trees.

And last but by no means least, his visit to the shrine of Hakuin and the old and beautiful tree named the Suribachi pine.

Part V is on FWBO Features.

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