Eastern Family, Part II: Buddhism, Shintoism, Japanese New Religions: Intrafaith Organizations

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Eastern Family, Part II: Buddhism, Shintoism, Japanese New Religions: Intrafaith Organizations


American Buddhist Congress

4267 W. Third St.
Los Angeles, CA 90020

The American Buddhist Congress grew out of an informal meeting of American Buddhist leaders in Boulder, Colorado, on August 24, 1986. They signed a declaration calling for the formation of such an organization and issued a call to all of the Buddhist organizations in the country to join them in its formation. They took as their common ground the essential teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha, especially the four Noble truths. The group formed an ad-hoc committee, which in turn appointed two chairpersons, the Ven. Dr. Havanpola Ratanasara and Rev. Karl Springer, to facilitate the holding of a convocation in 1987. At that convocation, hosted by the Kwan Um Sa Temple (Korean) in Los Angeles, the American Buddhist Congress was initiated and a constitution adopted.

The congress attempts to bring Buddhists together in projects for the common good, to promote understanding between the various Buddhist traditions, to educate the American public about Buddhism, and to carry out social, educational, cultural, and humanitarian projects.

The congress operates through a general council, which sets policy, and an executive council, which implements policy. There are several standing committees, including an education and promotion committee and a humanitarian committee. The congress is currently headed by its executive chairperson, Dr. Ratanasara, who is assisted by two co-chairpersons (the Ven. Do Ahn Kim and Karl Springer) and five vice-chairpersons (the Ven. Dr. Karuna Dharma, the Ven. Dr. Thich Thien Than, the Ven. Jomyo Tanaka, the Ven. K. Piyatissa, and William Baer).

Membership: In 1995 the congress reported 136 affiliated organizations.

Periodicals: American Buddhist News.


Buddhist Council of the Midwest

2400 Prairie
Evanston, IL 60201

The Buddhist Council of the Midwest was founded in the 1970s as an ecumenical organization that now includes Dharma organizations in northeastern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, northern Indiana, and Southwestern Michigan. Among its major programs is an annual Visakha Day (Buddha's birthday) celebration near the full moon of the fifth lunar month. The council includes a spectrum of traditions and national ethnic groups.


Directory of Midwest Dharma Centers. Evanston, IL: Buddhist Council of the Midwest, annual.


Buddhist Sangha Council of Southern California

928 S. New Hampshire
Los Angeles, CA 90006

The Buddhist Sangha Council of Southern California emerged out of the experience of the thousands of Buddhists who migrated to America following the 1965 change in U.S. immigration laws relative to Asia. Buddhists from across Asia—Sri Lanka, Tibet, Burma, Kampuchea, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, and Korea—settled in the United States, the largest concentration of them in Los Angeles, Orange, and adjacent counties of Southern California. Many of these groups experienced the same problems in adjusting to a new land and new language. They also found an entrenched Buddhist establishment already thoroughly Americanized.

The Buddhist Sangha Council grew out of a need to give expression to Buddhist unity in a predominantly Christian country and to provide assistance to newly arriving immigrants, thousands of whom settled annually in Southern California. The council sponsors an annual community-wide celebration of Buddha's birthday each spring and has represented the Buddhist community to the government, in community activity, and in the media. In 1986 it became an official regional center of the World Fellowship of Buddhists.

Membership: Membership in the council is opened only to ordained clergy; it includes representatives of most of the ethnic Buddhist communities in Southern California. In 1997 the Council reported 50 members.


Hawaii Buddhist Council

1128 Banyan St.
Honolulu, HI 96817

Buddhists of Hawaii, one of two places in the United States where a significant number of Buddhists have settled, first organized ecumenically in the 1930s through the International Buddhist Institute, which worked to spread a spirit of Buddhist unity in the face of its divisions into a variety of sectarian bodies. That effort was largely ended by the appearance in 1935 of a Buddhist leader with the Honpa Hongwanji, the largest of the Japanese groups, who rejected the ideals of the institute. The whole of organized Buddhism on the islands was disrupted following the bombing at Pearl Harbor until a number of years after World War II. However, in the 1950s a second effort at Buddhist cooperative activity was made in the formation of the Hawaii Buddhist Council, modeled on the councils of Christian churches which had been established across the United States.

The council has facilitated communication between the various Buddhist bodies and has provided the Buddhist community with a united voice to speak to the larger community of non-Buddhists. Among its first actions, the council in 1963 proposed that April 8 be designated Buddha's Day, a state holiday in Hawaii. The council argued that such a designation would exemplify American tolerance and acceptance of religious freedom and provide an opportunity for Japanese Americans to educate the general public about Buddhism. After a statewide debate, a compromise bill did pass the state senate naming April 8 as Buddha Day, but not in such a way as to make it a state holiday.

The council sponsors a variety of educational programs on Buddhism and Hawaiian Buddhist history and culture.

Membership: Members of the council include the Higashi Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, Jodo Mission of Hawaii, Nichiren Mission of Hawaii, Shingon Mission of Hawaii, Soto Mission of Hawaii, and Tendai Mission of Hawaii.


International Buddhist Institute


The International Buddhist Institute (IBI) emerged in the late 1920s out of the realization of the spread of Buddhism around the world. In 1929, Abbot Tai Hsu of the Lin Yin Temple in Hangchow, China, made a world tour promoting the cause of a united Buddhism and the breaking down of sectarian barriers. Early branches of the institute were founded in New York, New York; Chicago, Illinois; and Honolulu, Hawaii. Soon other branches appeared in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland, California, and one appeared in Idaho.

The Honolulu branch, under the guidance of Bp. Yemyo Imamura and British convert Ernest Hunt, became the most active of the American branches of the movement. Hunt found it a perfect vehicle for reaching non-Japanese people with the message of Buddhism, for lessening tensions between the Japanese and white populations of the islands, and for slowing competition between the various branches of Buddhism operating in the Hawaiian Japanese community. Hunt believed that the practice of active goodwill was the surest way to Enlightenment, and he put his ideas into the institute's program, especially in its social service activities centered upon visitation to hospitals and prisons.

Hunt helped vitalize the Buddhist youth program, wrote books, and worked to spread understanding of Buddhism in the larger non-Buddhist community. He also published, beginning in 1930, four issues of and IBI Annual and a magazine, Navayana.

Unfortunately, much of what Hunt did was undone following the death of Bishop Imamura in 1932. Hunt succeeded Imamura as president of the IBI. He carried on under the brief leadership of his immediate successor, but in 1936 Gikyo Kuchiba was appointed the new bishop of the Hongwanji Buddhists in Hawaii (the group over which Imamura was bishop). He was the exact opposite of his predecessor. Imamura had been an able leader who operated with tact and goodwill in the difficult situation on the islands. He openly tried to build bridges between the Japanese Hawaiians and their neighbors. Bishop Kuchiba was a staunch Japanese nationalist who had little tolerance for other forms of Buddhism or making converts among non-Japanese people. He drove Hunt away and without the support of the Hongwanji, the largest of the Buddhist groups, the IBI quickly ceased to exist as a viable organization on the islands.

What little remained of the IBI nationally (and internationally) after the disruption of the Hawaiian branch was completely destroyed by World War II.


Hunt, Ernest, ed. Hawaii Buddhist Annual. Honolulu: International Buddhist Institute, 1932.

Hunter, Louise. Buddhism in Hawaii: Its Impact on a Yankee Community. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1971.


Korean Buddhist Sangha Association of Western Territory in U. S. A.

451 S. Serrano Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90020

Korean Buddhism began to be established in the United States in the 1970s following the migration of a number of Buddhists following the change of the law regulating immigration from Asia in 1965. Members and priests of a number of different Korean Buddhist traditions settled across the United States, though the largest numbers were in California, New York, and Illinois. The Sangha Association emerged in the early 1980s and became known during its participation in the Korean Cultural Exhibition as part of Korea Expo 84. It has published a directory of all of the Korean Buddhist centers in the United States and Canada.


Brief Introduction to Korean Buddhism. Los Angeles: Korean Buddhist Sangha Association of Western Territory in U.S.A., 1984.


Los Angeles Buddhist Church Federation

342 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Presently participating in the federation are the main are the Higashi Honganji Betsuin, Jodoshu Betsuin Temple, Koyasan Betsuin Temple, Long Beach Buddhist Church, Nichiren Buddhist Temple, Nishi Hongwanji Betsuin, Zenshuji Soto Mission, most of which are located in that section of Los Angeles known as Little Tokyo.

Remarks: In the 1970s Buddhists from across Asia—Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Kampuchea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Korea— arrived in California. They organized the Buddhist Sangha of Southern California and became the basis for the more recent organization of the American Buddhist Congress. As a whole, the Japanese, who represent a community of older immigrants to the United States, have remained cordial but organizationally aloof from the latest generation of Buddhists to settle in Southern California.


Kokoro no Kate. 7 vols. Los Angeles: Los Angeles Buddhist Church Federation, 1981-88?


White Plum Asanga

℅ Zen Mountain Monastery
PO Box 197
South Plank Rd.
Mount Tremper, NY 12457

The White Plum Asanga is an association of the successors in the lineage of Soto Zen teacher Baian Hakujun Daiosho. The stated purpose of the Asanga is to promote and maintain harmony among the various Dharma successors in the lineage, many of whom are currently leaders of otherwise independent Zen centers. It provides a forum for conflict resolution, study and training, and the promotion of communication among its members as well as the leaders of other Buddhist schools/traditions.

Membership in White Plum Asanga is of several kinds. Voting members are those who are Shiho Dharma successors in the lineage of Taizan Maezumi Daiosho, best known as the founder of the Zen Center of Los Angeles and which most of the members were initially trained. Honorary membership is extended to the successors of Baian Hakujun Daiosho, and participating membership is drawn from shiho Dharma transmission, denkai, Dharma holders, or other senior students of the Dharma successors.

Membership: Current honorary members include Kojun Kuroda, Koshinji, Japan; Takeshi Kuroda, Zenkoji, Japan; and Junyu Kuroda, Kirigayaji, Japan. Officers are retired president Bernard Tetsugen Glassman (Zen Community of New York); president Dennis Genpo Merzel, Kanzeon 3Sangha; vice president John Daido Loori (Zen Mountain Monastery); secretary Susan Myoyu Andersen (Northwest Chicago Zen Group); and treasurer Gerry Shishin Wick (Great Mountain Zen Center).

Voting members include Jan Chozen Bays (Zen Community of Oregon); John Tesshin Sanderson, Mexico; Alfred Jitsudo Ancheta, California; Charles Tenshin Fletcher (Zen Mountain Center, Mexico); Nicolee Jikyo Miller-McMahon (Three Treasures Zen Community); William Nyogen Yeo, California; and Charlotte Joko Beck (Ordinary Mind Zen School).




World Fellowship of Buddhists

616 Benjasiri Park
Soi Medhinivet off Sukhumvit 24
Sukhumvit Rd.
Bangkok 10110, Thailand

The World Fellowship of Buddhists was founded in 1950 in Colombo, Sri Lanka by 129 delegates representing 27 countries of Asia, Europe, and North America as well as representatives of the major schools of Buddhism—Theravada, Mahayna, and Vajrajana. Five aims and objectives were incorporated into the constitution: 1) To promote, among the members, strict observance and practice of the teachings of the Buddha; 2) To secure unity, solidarity, and brotherhood among Buddhists; 3) To propagate the sublime doctrine of the Buddha; 4) To organize and carry on activities in the field of social, educational, cultural, and other humanitarian services; and 5) To work for happiness, harmony, and peace on earth and to collaborate with other organizations working for the same ends. In particular, the WFB refrains from involving itself directly or indirectly in any political activity.

The WFB's highest decision-making body is the General Conference, held every two years, which determines strategic direction and policy planning at the Headquarters and at regional centers. The General Council is the administrative body; it supervises assets and funds, establishes committees and their personnel, and organizes meetings after the General Conference. Decisions of the General Conference are implemented by the Executive Council, in which the WFB President presides over an auxiliary body that assists in the execution of WFB responsibilities. The Executive Council conducts regular sessions every six months for monitoring and evaluation.

Nine Standing Committees implement decisions of the General Council: Finance Committee; Publication, Publicity, Education, Cultureal, and Art Committee; Dhammaduta Activities Committee; Humanitarian Services Committee; Unity and Solidarity Committee; Youth Committee; Socio-Economic Development Committee; Women Committee; and Buddhist Pancasila Samadana. In addition, the WFB's World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth promotes peace and solidarity (including the practices of Dhamma) among young Buddhists, and the Liaison Unit of UNESCO and Other UN Organizations coordinates activities that promote education, science, and culture.

Headquarters of the WFB were in Colombo until 1958 and in Rangoon from then until 1963, when permanent headquarters were established in Bangkok. In 1988 the General Conference met at the large Hsi Lai Temple complex in Hacienda Heights, California, the first time the meeting had been held in North America.

The WFB's Internet address is http://www.wfb-hq.org.

Membership: In 2002, the WFB reported more than 140 regional centers in 37 countries worldwide. Temple of California, Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, Tibetan Nyingmapa Meditation Centre, Universal Buddhist Fellowship, The Union of Vietnamese Buddhist Churches in the United States of America, Vajradatu, Vietnamese Buddhist Renovation Committee, Vietnamese Theravada Buddhist Sangha Congregation, WFB, Hawaii Regional Centre, and Zen Center of San Francisco. Some of these centers are headquarters of different Buddhist organizations, some local centers of a larger Buddhist fellowship, and some headquarters of ecumenical organizations.

Educational Facilities: World Buddhist University.

Periodicals: WFB Newsletter. • WFB Journal • WFB Review.


The 16th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists/The Grand Opening of Fo Kuang Shan Hsi Lai Temple, U.S.A., Souvenir Magazine. Hacienda Heights, CA: Fo Kuang Shan Hsi Lai Temple,1988.

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Eastern Family, Part II: Buddhism, Shintoism, Japanese New Religions: Intrafaith Organizations

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Eastern Family, Part II: Buddhism, Shintoism, Japanese New Religions: Intrafaith Organizations