Tag Archives: Spokane Buddhist Temple

Spokane’s Religion News Roundup: Feb. 24

By Tracy Simmons

Rev. Marvin Harada speaks at Buddhist convention/Tracy Simmons - SpokaneFAVS

Since you’re a dedicated SpokaneFAVS reader you already know more than 300 Buddhists swarmed to the city last weekend for the 65th annual Northwest Buddhist Convention. But did you know that it was a convention for Shin Buddhists? Do you even know what a Shin Buddhist is? You can find out next week when the Spokane Buddhist Temple’s Introduction to Jodo Shinshu Buddhism class starts.

Last week Washington became the seventh state to legalize gay marriage. The story’s a week old, but it’s still a hot topic. Actually, it’s scorching. Bishop James E. Waggoner of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane isn’t shying away from the contentious legislation and said he, “welcome[d] the decision and am grateful that it recognizes the reality of relationships already being lived out faithfully and lovingly. The validation of legal status and related rights, including benefits, is overdue.” You can read about how Waggoner and the state’s other Episcopal bishops getting involved here.

In Catholic news, Bishop Blase Cupich of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane has gotten national attention for his column in America: The National Catholic Weekly. While many bishops are not happy with Obama’s contraception coverage mandate accommodation, Cupich’s been praised for his optimistic outlook and call for civility:

“I believe that an even greater opportunity is before us, namely to have a deeper and on a more prolonged basis a fundamental dialogue about the role of religion in society in general and the nature of religious liberty, especially as it applies to faith-based charitable, health and social service ministries in the United States, in particular. I also believe that the president, relying on his personal experience with church, which he cited once again this week, has not only the potential but also the responsibility to make a significant contribution to this more sustained and expansive discussion.”

Speaking of Catholics, Gonzaga made big news last week when the university announced Archbishop Desmond Tutu (not a Catholic) would be the keynote speaker for the undergraduate commencement ceremony in May. But you better be attached to a graduate if you want to go — space is limited.

Local Lutherans are using this Lenten season as a reminder of the Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod’s commitment to an Anti-Malaria Campaign. You can read Bishop Martin Wells’ Lenten reflection here.

Finally, a shout-out to the Latter-day Sentinel for highlighting the Coeur d’Alene First Ward for their work in fighting homelessness.

Have something you think should be included in next week’s roundup? Email it to tracy.simmons@religionnews.com

Hundreds of Buddhists gather in downtown Spokane

By Tracy Simmons

Shin Buddhists gather in Spokane for convention/Tracy Simmons - SpokaneFavs

Buddhist teachings are practical, useable and helpful. At least, they can be if adherents strive to strengthen their minds, Ven. Bhante Seelawimala said Saturday morning at the opening service of the 65th annual Northwest Buddhist Convention.

He was one of 300 Buddhists who gathered in downtown Spokane for the conference, which continues through the weekend and is being hosted by the Spokane Buddhist Temple.

Buddhists, mostly Shin, traveled from Idaho, Oregon, California, Washington and parts of Canada to attend the conference.

In Seelawimala’s talk, “Experience the Dharma,” he explained how the Buddha journeyed to enlightenment and what he learned along the way. Seelawimala is a Theravada Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka who teaches at the Institute of Buddhist Studies at Berkley.

Ven. Bhante Seelawimala speaks at the Davenport/Tracy Simmons - SpokaneFAVS

“The Buddha found that almost every person does not use the mind to its fullest capacity,” Seelawimala said. “The mind is very powerful…but we don’t know how to use it and because of that we experience all kinds of problems in life…it’s a corrupted system, and it’s corrupted by our own behavior.”

Self-centeredness, he said, is the root problem of the corrupted mind.

He said the key to having a perfect mind and joyful life is simple.

“All you need to do is keep the Buddha in mind and you will become calm, peaceful and more focused,” he said.

The Buddha that one needs to focus on, he clarified, is not the person, but instead are the qualities of wisdom and compassion.

Seelawimala spoke during the public portion of the event. Many non-Buddhists were in the crowd and he urged them to test his advice.

“Buddhism is the only religion in the whole world that says if you don’t believe me, go see for yourself,” he jested.

Rev. Marvin Harada speaks at Buddhist convention/Tracy Simmons - SpokaneFAVS

Rev. Marvin Kenju Harada of the Orange County Buddhism Church, spoke after Seelawimala, delivering a keynote address on the essence of Buddhism.

Learning to control our egos, he said, is how one can live a peaceful life. He said marriages, families and societies struggles when egos clash.

“The ego-self is causing all the problems in life,” he said. “I think Buddhism offers the ultimate solution to all life’s problems, it gets to the core of the ego-self…and teaches us how to be liberated from the problems caused by the ego-self.”

The theme of the conference is “Under Amida’s Umbrella of Compassion.” Amida is the Buddha of light.

Numerous workshops were available to attendees Saturday afternoon, as well as a banquet dinner. The convention will conclude Sunday with a dharma message by Harada.

“When you’re bringing 200 to 300 Buddhist together from across the Northwest district, it’s always a wonderful experience,” said Jefferson Workman, a minister’s assistant at the Spokane temple. “We’re proud people came out for this.”

The temple will be offering an introductory course on Buddhism in March. For information visit the temple online.

View more photos of this event on our Flickr album.

Buddhist convention coming to Spokane

By Tracy Simmons
Religion News Spokane

The Spokane Buddhist Temple, 927 S. Perry St./Contributed photo

In February more than 350 Shin Buddhists from across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Canada will be visiting Spokane for the 65th annual Northwest Buddhist Convention.

The Spokane Buddhist Temple is hosting the event, which will be held at the Davenport Hotel , 10 S. Post St., Feb. 17—19. This year’s theme is “Under Amida’s Umbrella of Compassion.”

Amida is the universal Buddha of light.

Sensei Paul Vielle, of the Spokane Buddhist Temple, explained that most of the conference happenings, which include services, workshops, lectures, classes and a banquet, are not open to the public. However the opening service and keynote lecture on Feb. 18 are open to anyone interested in learning more about Buddhism.

The public event, “Experiencing the Dharma” will be from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. for $20 at the door.

Statue of Amida Buddha in Japan/Wikipedia Photo

Ven. Bhante Seelawimala will be the opening speaker. He is a Theravada Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka and teaches at the Institute of Buddhist Studies at Berkley.

The opening ceremony will also include chanting, a gatha (like a hymn, sung with taiko drums), and a procession. The keynote speaker will be Socho Koshin Ogui, bishop of Buddhist Churches of America. Rev. Marvin Kenju Harada, of the Orange County Buddhist Church, will also speak.

All speakers will touch on the subject of compassion.

“What is amazing about the service is the sound of 350 people chanting in unison,” said Mari Haworth, a member of the Spokane Buddhist Temple. “It gives me chills to remember it.”

Following the keynote  presentation will be a workshop led by Kenji Akahoshi, a Shin Buddhist from San Jose.

“It (the opening service) will give you a flavor on the overall Buddhist teachings,” Vielle said. “It’s for someone who may be interested in Buddhism as an alternative to other religions, it will be very focused on Shin Buddhism.”

Shin Buddhism is based on the teachings and writings of Shinran Shonin, who lived more than 750 years ago.

The Spokane Buddhist Temple, located in the South Perry District, is the only all-volunteer temple in the Northwest District of the Buddhist Churches of America. It also has one of the smallest memberships, with about 60 weekly attendees. There are seven temples in the district. Many of them have around 500 members, and unlike the Spokane temple, are made mostly of Japanese Americans.

The last time the Spokane Buddhist Temple hosted the convention was in 2006. Vielle said the gathering is important because it’s a time for Shin Buddhists to come together and be in the presence of others who share the same values and beliefs.

“This is an opportunity to hear some excellent teachers and to practice deep listening with like-minded people,” Vielle said.

For information visit the temple website.