On the Western horizon, Toshiyori sees the pre-dawn light of a second rising sun. It is the illumination of Hope, radiated by the new Shingonji Temple in Alhambra, California.
Most readers will be aware that Rev. Seicho Asahi resigned as presiding Bishop of Los Angeles Koyasan Temple in order to concentrate his efforts in training new Shingon priests. To that end, he has established the Shingonji Temple of Alhambra. But, on visiting his website (http://www.shingonjitemple.org/), one quickly discovers that Rev. Asahi’s vision is by no means limited to the training role. As he, himself, puts it:
“Shingonji Temple is a religious center located in the heart of Southern California, dedicated to people seeking Buddhist teaching and spiritual healing. In addition to meditation and the study of core principles taught in general Buddhism, the purpose of Shingonji is to provide guidance and instruction in the dharma vehicle of Esoteric, or Koyasan Mantrayana, Buddhism. The Shingonji Temple aims to provide a place where people can form a community and strive to achieve Buddhahood in this lifetime, not just for oneself, but for all sentient beings. Shingonji is committed to creating an atmosphere that is open and freely accessible, while maintaining a well-balanced spiritual practice for students.”
A survey of Rev. Asahi’s new website – which is still under construction – reveals sutra texts in both English and Japanese, as also a “user-friendly” version of the Shingon service booklet. That small items are already on sale here offers hope that omamori, joss sticks, books, statues, and Esoteric ritual implements may soon become available.
Toshiyori hopes that visitors to www.shingonjitemple.org sense, as he does, that Rev. Asahi’s vision is of a spiritual resource for the entire nation, as important for dharma practitioners in Utah, Wyoming, Virginia and Maine as it will surely become to those of southern California. Of course, the establishment of what could become a “national temple” is dependent upon the efforts and sacrifices of every American who calls him/herself Buddhist.
“Shingonji is in the process of looking for a site or building where students can learn and practice on a regular basis. We have Buddha statues for the altar, two authorized ministers to teach Shingon Buddhism, and the fundamental ritual implements. What we still need is a designated area for our students and friends to congregate and meet together as a group. If we succeed in establishing a training center, the project will enable our students outside Japan to train, study and practice together in America. . . . the first two important steps – novice ordination and . . . . preliminaries – may be completed in California under the auspices of a qualified priest, who can properly guide the student.
“The temple will consist of a regular practice hall to serve as the main area of worship and meditation. If there is extra space, we can use this as a reception area, an office for our ministers, kitchen space, an auxiliary shrine, or a small library. In the future, it will be necessary for Shingonji to expand to a larger location, specifically away from the city so that it may be possible for our visitors and students to experience temple life in a peaceful environment. A Goma-do (fire ritual hall) will also be needed in the future.”
If, after visiting his website, you find that you share Rev. Asahi’s grand vision, Toshiyori hopes that you will choose to donate to its fulfillment. Please know that Rev. Asahi is working for every one of us, and be as generous as you can. Thank you.