The Buddhists Have Come To Town

December 18, 2006

Author: Rhiannon Sims

Source: Connection Newspapers

A new congregation met to celebrate the inauguration on one of the most important holy days in their religious calendar on Friday, Dec. 8. It wasn't Christmas or Hanukkah, but Rohatsu, the day that the Buddha attained enlightenment. The Washington Tendai Sangha (congregation) is an official branch of the Tendai Buddhist Institute, the only recognized Betsuin (mission) outside of Japan.

Until recently, Tendai Buddhism was relatively unknown in North America, despite its historical influence on the founders of many of the most important Buddhist sects in Japan. The Tendai Buddhist Institute, located in upstate New York, was founded in 1994, and only granted Betsuin status in 2004.

Tendai Buddhism is "an eclectic school that incorporates meditation, esoteric practices, Pure Land and Lotus Sutra teachings, as well as scholarship and a strong adherence to peace and social justice", according to Monshin Naamon, co-founder and jushoku (abbot) of the New York Betsuin, who was in attendance Friday to conduct the service with Chion Lissabet, leader of the Washington Sangha.