Namu Amida Butsu

The Maui Buddhist Council consists of twelve Buddhist temples on the island of Maui and has been supporting each other, especially at major Buddhist functions such as:
  • The Mayor’s special proclamation for Hanamatsuri Week,
  • The Joint Hana-matsuri (Buddha’s birthday) services for Central Maui and for West Maui,
  • The Memorial Day services at the Maui Veteran’s Cemetery,
  • The selection of dates for Obon, and
  • Supporting Buddhist Seminars and activities.

If a temple is having its fundraiser, Council temples support and assist other temple with its fundraising activity.

The Maui Buddhist Council normally meets in November at its regular general membership meeting with a luncheon and recognizes new as well as departing ministers. In September, we hold an Obon evaluation meeting. When we meet in November, our most important issue is selecting the dates for Obon at each temple and the yearly Council’s budget.

At this meeting, especially in the selection of dates for Obon, most of the temples are more or less set on the dates. However, sometimes there are special events or other reasons that a temple may wish to switch its Obon date, so we have to work together and try to accommodate its wishes. So this meeting is very important.

Obon, our cultural as well as spiritual event, begins the first weekend in June. We have already held several Obon services and dances. These festivals have become one of the most important summer activities for locals as well as visitors.

Prior to the Obon dance, most Buddhist temples observe its annual "Hatsu-bon" special memorial service in which families observe their first Obon service for their deceased family member. When I arrived on Maui as Wailuku Hongwanji’s resident minister on June 24, 2004, I did the Sunday morning service on June 26 even though my first day “on the job” was to begin on July 1.

The following weekend until the end of August, I attended every temples’ Obon services and dances on Maui. I was curious and wanted to see how services at different Buddhist temples were held, besides the Hongwanji temples.

When I attended the services, I noticed that every temple had their own tradition and service systems. The styles were much different even if they were from the same Buddhist sects as the ones in Oahu district. I felt that local ministers were creating their own local style of Buddhist services.

As you may know, the story of Moggallana, who is a great disciple of Buddha, lost his mother. Once Moggallana received his super power, he wondered where was his mother. He used his super power to search for her. Believe it or not, he discovered that she was at a place called "Hungry Hell" and had been suffering.

He tried to rescue his mother from the “Hungry Hell” so he did everything he could to help her but all he did was in vain. He couldn’t help his mother. He then went to see the Buddha for help.

The Buddha suggested several things but also told him that he should have a sincere service together with the monks. Moggallana expressed his sincere gratitude and appreciation towards his late mother. After several days of services, the monks left and he used his super powers to search for his mother at the “Hungry Hell” but she wasn’t there.

He looked in the other worlds and then finally found her in heaven. He saw his mother exactly the way he remembered her and his heart was filled with joy. He expressed his joy of happiness with every part of his body, and legend says that his acts of joy became the origin of Bon Dancing

Continue [Part 2] in the August Issue

Namu Amida Butsu