On Friday, July 27, at Hiroma Hall—Reno’s Buddhist center—there will be an Artown event, an evening of chanting from Buddhist traditions. The event begins at 5:45 p.m. at 820 Plumas St. Carole Maupin describes the occasion. Check out www.renobuddhistcenter.org.
Tell me about the event on the 27th.
We’re doing Buddhist chants from a lot of different Buddhist traditions, including Pearland, Zen, Tibetan, Thich Nhat Hanh. … And we have a group of 16 people that have been practicing since January. There’s a lot of confusion—lack of information among a lot of people about what chanting is. It’s different in all Buddhist traditions. Some of it is very melodic. We also have Jim Eaglesmith, a well known local musician, and he does a lot of Tibetan chants. Then Phil Bryan, who is just an awesome guy, is going to do a couple of Zen chants. He’s going to dress in his regalia and bring his authentic Zen drum, which he calls a fish [Zen drums are known as Wooden Fish]. We’re going to do some Zen chants, then we’re going to do a couple of Pearland or Jodo Shin chants. … [Some are chanted] in classical Chinese, some of them we do in Pali, some we do in Japanese, and then the Thich Nhat Hanh will be in English. So there’s going to be a lot of variety. I think people will really enjoy it.
What makes it an Artown event?
It’s a cultural—we’re trying very hard to stay away from the religious aspect—it’s a cultural event. As part of the dance program at Wingfield a couple of years ago, we participated in a Buddhist dance with music. And people just love it for the musical value, and the cultural value of different cultures.
How many Buddhists are there in this area?
There are different traditions, so—at the center, we have fixed up a couple of beautiful meditation rooms, and different groups come in. The Tibetan Dharma Zephyr Sangha meditates there. So we have like four or five meditation groups that meditate there … so the center itself has become a real Buddhist center. We also have Buddhist-related activities just as a service to the Buddhist community. I don’t know—there are a lot of people that say that they’re Buddhist, but in Buddhism you’re not encouraged to go to church necessarily. It’s a practice, especially Zen, that you do on your own. So it appeals to a lot of people because of that.
How long has Buddhism been a presence here in the valley?
I think it’s been a presence for a long time—over 30 years, at least. … And more and more people come all the time. I think we have about 600 people on our mailing list. We get about 70 people at our bimonthly incense services, which are the more formal Sunday services, and then we get a lot of people that come to meditation groups, and we have a book study group, and we have a Tai Chi group, so it’s growing. It seems to me there’s a lot of interest in it.