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Reno Buddhist Church

The Reno Buddhist Church as regular services twice a month.

The Reno Buddhist Church as regular services twice a month.

Photo By David Robert

I’ve long been fascinated by the Buddhist church on Plumas Street. Every time I passed it, I thought I should go the extra step to find out the schedule for services. I’m interested in Buddhist philosophy, but my knowledge of Buddhist practice has mainly come from second-hand sources, like television or yoga or people incorrectly use the word “Zen” to describe simple room or garden design.

Well, lucky for me, I write a church review, so I took the opportunity to attend the 10 a.m. Sunday service. There’s a regular “service” once a month, but there are also other special activities. There are Buddhist study classes on the first and third Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and meditations on the second and fourth Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. In other words, it’s a deceptively busy place, so check the schedule at the Web site, www.renobuddhistchurch.org.

I arrived about 10 minutes early. “The Wind Beneath My Wings” was being softly played by Dan Lee. I took my seat on a cushion on one of the wooden pews. It’s a pleasant place. A soft whiff of incense perfumes the air. Minus the chancel, it’s designed like many churches of the Christian tradition—in other words, there’s a small vestibule at the front door that enters into a sanctuary filled with pews and covered with a wooden ceiling, although the trusses supporting this one were more ornate than many.

The chancel is busier, from a design perspective, than most. On the back wall, there are photographs, paintings and tapestries with Asian writing. Bouquets and a large urn are at its base. Above it all are hanging lamps and a circular stained-glass window of purple, white and green. Lee’s organ and keyboards occupy the left side, there’s a pulpit, fronted by a big-screen television to the right. The altar had candles, bouquets, two chairs and other accoutrements, I couldn’t make out from my vantage point. A table to the front had a large container for burning incense.

Before the service began, a helpful woman named Utahna sat down and explained things as the service progressed.

The service began with two black-robed priests ringing bells and lighting candles and incense. There was soft mood music playing: wind instruments, chimes and drums.

A woman then came from the 40-member congregation to lead chants, homages, to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The chants—reading right to left and up and down on the page—were in Japanese, but were spelled out phonetically with little symbols to describe the rise and fall of the cadence. Then came a longer chant—Japanese verses composed by St. Shinran Shonin, the founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. This was followed by a ceremony in which congregants wrapped their left hand in the beaded Juzu, bowed, took two pinches of incense and placed it on the charcoal with the right hand. Then both hands were placed in the Juzu followed by another bow. A reading from the Buddhist canon followed.

After a short meditation, Reno Buddhist Church founder Rev. Daigan Lee Matsunaga offered a sermon via an Internet connection on television from his base at the Eikyoji Temple in Japan. He discussed the necessity of knowing where a family’s roots are and the importance of family ties when, after death, we join our loved ones and ancestors in the “pure sea of faith.”

The service wrapped up with a song, and most congregants headed downstairs for conversation, tea, coffee and pastries.

I found the Buddhist service relaxing, and even though I didn’t understand much of what was going on, I feel like my knowledge of the Reno spiritual community and Buddhism has deepened.




Want to introduce Brian to your place of worship? Call 324-4440 ext. 3525.