Ekoji Pure Land Group

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 25 March 2013.

Phone: 804-359-4901
Email: pureland@ekojirichmond.org
Website: http://www.ekojirichmond.org/Pure%20Land/pure%20land.htm
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History

Ekoji's Pure Land Group is the original core of the temple. When Rev. K.T. Tsuji founded Ekoji in 1985, he intended it to be a Jodo Shinshu temple in the Pure Land tradition. Over the years, many other traditions of Buddhism have also been invited to attend, and the Pure Land group itself has changed greatly. No longer purely Jodo Shinshu in orientation, the retirement of Rev. Tsuji in 1999 and the growth in Chinese-American membership starting in 1989 has resulted in a re-orientation toward Chinese Pure Land approaches, while still retaining significant elements of Americanized Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.

Activities and Schedule

The Pure Land group meets on Saturdays at 2 p.m. Members gather in the main room downstairs, known as the hondo. Services begin with chanting homage to the Buddha, the teaching, and the community in Pali, the oldest canonical language of Buddhism. Next, a scripture-extract known as the Juseige, a standard of Jodo Shinshu practice, is recited in English. Then the Heart Sutra is chanted in English, accompanied by beats of the "wooden fish" drum. When the Sutra is finished, participants chant "Namo Omitofo" ("Homage to Amitabha Buddha," in Chinese) for 10-15 minutes. This is followed by 10-15 minutes of silent meditation. The service ends with English-language dedication of merit and the mantra from the Diamond Sutra. Then individual members approach the altar, bow, and offer incense. The session continues with tea, cookies, and a book discussion that usually lasts about an hour. Every other month, a nun from the International Buddhist Progress Society in Raleigh, a Chinese Buddhist temple, visits and leads a very different service. These sessions include long scriptures chanted in Chinese, accompanied by various musical instruments and rituals by the nun. Afterwards, members eat home-cooked Chinese food and discuss Buddhism.

Demographics

The Pure Land group is Ekoji's most racially integrated group. About 60 percent of its members are Chinese-American, and 40 percent are European-American. It also has some of the oldest members of the temple, with members as old as 85, and no Generation X participants, unlike the others.