Pilgrimage to India – Report on 136th London Eza

Despite the fact that it was snowing quite heavily, many people braved the elements and were able to attend the 136th London Eza. Although it was cold outside, on entering Three Wheels the welcome was as warm as ever. The service was very uplifting, and because the student members had been practicing earlier, the Sutra chanting was very strong and full of energy.

Following the service we were introduced to Rev. Kenshin Ishii, who gave a talk, entitled ” A Pilgrimage to India following Shakyamuni 30.11.17 – 8.12.17 “. In fact Rev Ishii had only returned from India 38 hours earlier, so to be able to give such a wonderful talk was quite amazing in itself. The subject of the talk was his pilgrimage, along with seven other priests and four lay people from Shogyoji, our parent temple in Japan. The pilgrimage was to follow the life of Shakyamuni Buddha, from birth to death.

They were able to visit many important historical sites including Lumbini, where Shakyamuni was born. Bodh Gaya, where he attained enlightenment. Sarnath, where he first preached the Dharma, and Kushinagar, where Shakyamuni entered paranirvana. The photos and explanations were so interesting, and Rev. Ishii was able to bring much of the atmosphere they had experienced, along with the sense of reverence and devotion the pilgrims showed, back to Three Wheels. We were also shown a video, made by Rev. Emmyo Sato, which was really beautiful, and fully able to convey the wonder of the sites that they had visited.

Rev. Kenshin Ishii told us how he had been so moved by the sincerity of the many pilgrims that he had encountered, and how the pilgrimage had shifted his view towards Shakyamuni into a completely different one. Now he was able to listen to Shakyamuni’s preaching directly, and to express his gratitude to him.

After the talk many interested listeners gave their thanks and asked many questions. Rev. Kemmyo Sato said that even though Shakyamuni Buddha had entered Paranirvana thousands of years ago, he was still here with us now, beyond time and space.

Following on we were introduced to some of the student members of the Sangha, who gave a presentation entitled “Colours – Gather the light “. This was a collection of impressions and reflections which had been given at a ladies meeting during the summer training assembly held at Shogyoji earlier in the year. Not only had they been very carefully and skillfully translated into English, but they were also accompanied by beautiful photographs that had been taken by the students, and were able to perfectly harmonise with the reflections. It was so nice to be able to listen to Dharma friends from Shogyoji temple, and the students did a wonderful job of making it possible.

To finish the Eza we were given information about all the events at Three Wheels that will be coming up over the next few weeks and months.

Then it was time for the end of year party. The atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly, and began with a quiz and raffle, again organised by the student members. The buffet was especially delicious, with freshly made crepes being made to warm everyone up. We were then treated to some beautifully sung songs and carols, accompanied by guitar, flute and Irish harp.

Chris Dodd