The Power of the Centers Creates Dramas Every Day

New Year Round-table Talk with Representatives of 4 Centers

Noto Center, Oyabe Center, Shikoku Center, and Kinomoto Center: These four Shinran centers were set up one after another last year. This momentum reminds us of Master Rennyo’s days. At that time, a great Buddhist capital was built in Yamashina, Kyoto, and many other new temples were born across the nation. In the temples, Master Rennyo’s teachings in “The Letters” were discussed and more and more villagers became “family and fellow followers,” who formed strong bonds with each other by their faith.

How about modern Buddhist capitals? Shinran Centers are now operating at full capacity as bases where people listen to Buddhist teachings, share them with others, and discuss what they have learned. Representatives from the new centers had an animated discussion over “the power of Centers.”

What’s changed since the new Shinran center was set up?

Mr. Kusanagi: In the center, unlike other public halls, we have the Name enshrined in a Buddhist altar. So, when I enter the altar room, I feel myself straightening up. People say, “Once you visit the 2000-Tatami-Mat Hall, your view of Buddhism will totally change,” and the center makes us feel the same way. We get encouraged to visit the center together with those who have never been to a temple before. Everything is moving towards Namu Amida Butsu. That is what has changed the most.

Ms. Nakamura: I like very much the nickname of Shikoku Center, “Mini 2000-Tatami-Mmat Hall”. From the entrance I can see the altar in the back room and feel like Amida Buddha is welcoming me. Now I am inviting people around me, “You should come here and see for yourself!”

Mr. Tabata: Recently I visit the center every day. My heart has changed enough to feel that listening to Buddhism is my “work.” Mr.Kuriyama: A person who stayed away from Buddhism for more than ten years has been visiting the center continuously since the new center celebration. Three other people also have totally changed their attitudes toward Buddhism. That must be the “power of Center.”

Mr. Kishimoto: Some even say, “When I come to the center, I feel like I am at my parentsʼ home.”

Mr. Yoichi: I was appointed director of the center and now feel that I was pushed into a different world. Dramatic things happen one after another every day. A Place Which Changes Your View of Buddhism Dramatically

Mr. Kishimoto: The manager of Shinran Center in Shiga is Mr. Yoichi, who is a ceramic artist. His works of pottery are displayed all over this Shinran Center. His works of photography are professional as well. His hobbies gain special meaning as he utilizes them to please the visitors to this Shinran Center.

Mr. Kuriyama: In Noto Shinran Center, we welcomed visitors from the neighboring city, Hakui. It seems that they found us on the map and felt like going to see it because of its name “Shinran Center.”

Ms. Miyamoto: Credibility of our flyers is enhanced thanks to the name of “Oyabe Shinran Center.”

Mr. Kishimoto: Effect of the signboard is huge, too. Even people in Maibara know about Kinomoto Shinran Center. Also it grabs neighborsʼ attention.

Mr. Kusanagi: Same thing happens in front of Shikoku Shinran Center. As long as I see it, about 20% of passersby see the bulletin board. What is it like to eat a meal at your Shinran Center?

Mr. Kishimoto: We get together for lunch. After that, there is a lecture. We dine in a cozy atmosphere.

Mr. Yoichi: It feels great that we all eat the same meal together. I would say it is practically like a family. First time visitors say, “I like it!” Once they enter the center, they look around to see what this place is, but once we start dining together, we bond immediately.

Mr. Kishimoto: Some even say, “When I come to the center, I feel like I am at my parentsʼ home.”

Mr. Yoichi: I was appointed director of the center and now feel that I was pushed into a different world. Dramatic things happen one after another every day. I could talk heart to heart with a nonfollower who has been listening to Buddhism for 2 years. A simple opportunity like this is very difficult to be realized in enclosed public places. As a result, the penny dropped and he said, “I want to become a Shinran follower.” I learned from this Shinran Center inauguration round-table conference that relating to a person is important. What is most essential is to convey Buddhism from A to Z; incredible things will happen in this way. Gathering a large number of people without thoroughly conveying the teachings is beside the point.

Mr. Kuriyama: In Noto Shinran Center, 2 people became Shinran followers. It was great we could open our hearts while in the kitchen and talk freely. The timing to choose a property is important, isn’t it?

Ms. Miyamoto: Yes. I found a property which was suitable for the construction of a Shinran Center and went to Mr. Tabataʼs place at once. He said he would be more than happy to make a donation. His offering united the hearts of Shinran followers.

Mr. Kishimoto: That is right. When one says “We are going to build a Shinran Center!,” then other members change their attitudes, too. Same thing occurred when building Kinomoto Shinran Center.

Mr. Kuriyama: Same for Noto Shinran Center. It all started due to Ms.Yamazakiʼs precious donation.

Ms. Yamazaki: I found a property and when I went to see what it looked like, I immediately realized, “This is it.” Other Shinran followers agreed and said, “This is the best timing for all of us because we will be getting older.” What is Your New Year’s Resolution?

Mr. Kishimoto: We would like to put up a bulletin board better than Oyabeʼs Shinran Center (laughs). Our director is eager to do this. Also, we would like to build another Shinran Center located to the south of Lake Biwa. We have already started looking for a property.

Ms. Miyamoto: We would like to have a place for children to have fun so that parents and children can go towards the light together. We started lightingup the signboard of our Shinran Center. We would like to impart a cheerful atmosphere to the building.

Mr. Kusanagi: We would like to prepare a flower garden to grow flowers for our Buddhist altar as well as seasonal flowers. It would be great if someone deepens their connection with Buddha through flowers. And also, we would like to hold events in series; for example, a series of lectures on our chant book.

Mr. Yoichi: I would like to build gazebos just like the ones at the Buddhist Village.

Ms. Miyamoto: Shinran Centers can be changed through our ideas and efforts. We would like to see a surge of Shinran Centers in 2012.

Everyone laughed when someone commented, “This is a competition, then.” They said, “we should improve by sharing our ideas.” How is this year going to be? We are wondering who would attend this meeting next year.

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #13 | 2012, The Power of the Centers Creates Dramas Every Day

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The Buddhist Village Times #13

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