Author Topic: The Buddhist priest who stook up for inclusion in 9/11 memorials  (Read 936 times)

Offline Namaste253

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This is an interesting article. I'd guess there were Buddhist victims on 9/11, so it's good to know that someone stood up for their memory...

All the major faiths of New York City (and, therefore, of the world) were represented, except one. Nobody invited a Buddhist.
The president of the city’s Buddhist Council at the time was a Japanese monk named T. K. Nakagaki. He was also the abbot at the New York Buddhist Church, a seventy-three-year-old temple on Riverside Drive. Noting the oversight, Nakagaki persuaded the other members of the council, typically an acquiescent bunch, to raise a ruckus. They sent the Mayor a letter of grievance and began organizing ceremonies of their own—interfaith undertakings that included, but did not rely on the hospitality of, their Abrahamic counterparts. If the Buddhist point of view was to be heard, the Buddhists, against their nature, were going to have to assert it more loudly. This was New York.

At the entrance of the New York Buddhist temple there is another war-scorched relic, a bronze statue of Shinran, the founder of Nakagaki’s sect. (Like Krawczyk’s cross, it is fifteen feet tall.) The statue had originally stood on a hill overlooking the city of Hiroshima. It survived the explosion of the atomic bomb, although its front, seared by the blast, is still visibly discolored. It was brought to America after the war, in the spirit of never-again, and mounted during a ceremony, as it happens, on September 11, 1955. For many years, the temple had held a small service on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, commemorating the dead and praying for peace. Nakagaki, who came to the United States in 1985 and became the abbot in 1994, moved the service outside to the foot of the statue of Shinran, and invited religious leaders from around the city.

Forty-nine days after the terrorist attacks, Nakagaki organized a Buddhist interfaith remembrance in Union Square. And then, in the summer of 2002, he put together a 9/11-commemoration ceremony downtown, on the occasion of the Japanese midsummer memorial celebration called obon, which concluded with the release into the Hudson River of a hundred and eight floating rice-paper lanterns, not with the names of the dead on them, as is customary in Japan, but with various messages for peace...

 “T.K.’s an in-your-face Buddhist, with a smile,” Weiner said. “A Buddhist troublemaker. A provocateur with a noble purpose.”

“Buddhists tend not to push their views,” Nakagaki said. “But this is a country of talking, so I have to talk.” Weiner cited the Buddhist term upaya—skillful means.


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