KAHULUI - The former resident minister of Kahului and Makawao Hongwanji missions will be returning to Maui to lead a seminar titled "KiMyo MuRyoJu (Return to Immeasurable Life): Review, Revisit, Revitalize" on Sept. 3 and 4.
The seminar by the Rev. Ron Kobata, who is currently with the Buddhist Church of San Francisco, will touch upon "reviewing what the sangha (association) is based on, revisiting how and why it was developed, and then revitalize that original spirit," he said in an email.
His talk also will cover Shin Buddhism and the insights of best-selling author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, who wrote "The Power of Now" and "A New Earth."
To lead Buddhist seminar
Tolle's insight/awakening to the "now" brought Kobata to the kanji for the foundation of the Pure Land path to enlightenment, the "nembutsu." The "nem," also "nen," consists of two Chinese character radicals, "ima" or now, and "kokoro," or heart/mind. The "butsu" means "awakened being."
The Buddha dharma (truth or reality) is based on the realization of "no thingness." For those in sync with the dharma there is a pure state/land of "being" or "nirvana," Kobata said.
"The dysfunctional life is the pain-body of being trapped in an aimless cycle, trapped in the 'thought' of an independent, unchanging 'I,''' he said.
The American-born minister is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and received his tokudo, or ordination, in 1974. He served at Kahului Hongwanji from 1983 to 2001 and Makawao Hongwanji from 2001 to 2005. Kobata is currently executive assistant in the Buddhist Church of San Francisco.
Hongwanji Buddhism came to Hawaii and the Mainland with Japanese ministers to serve the immigrant population. As an American and English-speaking-first minister, Kobata is part of a new breed of Western bred ministers, which he feels is a "a very encouraging reflection that Shin Buddhism in America is and will continue to become more broadly appreciated as a meaningful religious/spiritual resource/perspective on living a true and meaningful life."
"I feel that most American-born priests have less of a feeling of obligation toward the institutional forms of the tradition," Kobata said. "In fact, I'm becoming more convinced that we should take more responsibility for training and ordaining our own clergy in America rather continuing the tradition of sending candidates to the Hongwanji in Kyoto."
He said that his "interpretation" of the dharma is not different from Japanese-bred ministers, but there may be differences in approach.
"It's application, expression, or engagement that may reflect a different orientation," he said.
The sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days in the Kahului Hongwanji social hall.
The cost is $10, and the deadline to sign up is Monday.
For more information or to register, call the temple office at 871-4732 or email Kahuluifirstname.lastname@example.org.
Kobata's seminar is part of the centennial celebration of Kahului Hongwanji.