Nichiren Buddhist Community Center

On Sunday August 25, 2005 I made my first visit to the SGI-USA, Nichiren Buddhist Community Center in Columbus, OH. The trip was a rewarding experience that I am not likely to forget. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about going there as I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I realized shortly after my arrival that I had been overly anxious for no good reason.

As with the warm welcome I received during my first visit to a member's home for evening gongyo, my first visit to the community center was equally welcoming. I was greeted by two SGI members with warm smiles and friendly dispositions. Their kindness really helped to put me at ease.

The two members I met that day at the community center were Sharon and Kimmie. Kimmie, a native born Japanese, approached me with a bright smile, and an endearing little bow as is customary in Japan and other Asian nations. Sharon, a native born American was equally warm and welcoming.

The three of us chatted for a while. We talked about where I was from, what brought me to Columbus, how I found out about Nichiren Buddhism etc. After our little chat the ladies showed me around the center.

The Gohonzon Room

The first stop on the tour was the Gohonzon room. This is where the butsudan containing the Gohonzon (object of devotion) is housed. The Gohonzon room is the area at the community center where chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo occurs.

Actually, the Columbus community center had two or three Gohonzon rooms. I can't remember which. The one I'm referring to however is considered the "main" Gohonzon room.

The Community Center Book Store

After the ladies showed me around the other areas of the center, we stopped off at the SGI book store. The store contained a variety of materials including the Living Buddhism magazine, incense, butsudan's, bells, various other books, and prayer beads / juzu beads.

I browsed through the various offerings at the store and came away with a few things including:

  • The Buddha In Daily Life
  • The Basics of Buddhism
  • For Today & Tomorrow
  • Juzu Beads
  • Incense

Once I made my final selections I paid for the items and chatted with Sharon and Kimmie for a few more minutes. Sharon was quite helpful in explaining a few core Nichiren Buddhist concepts to me. On subsequent visits to the community center she took me under her wing and helped with any questions I had, and also assisted with recitation of the Lotus Sutra chapters.

Anyway, I conversed with the ladies for a few more minutes, thanked them for their help and off I went. I was very enthusiastic at the prospect of learning more about Buddhism. I looked forward to curling up with my new found reading materials to soak it all in.

Final Thoughts

In spite of my slight initial anxiety over approaching something new, I was extremely glad that I had finally taken the initial steps to pursue learning and experiencing Buddhism outside of a book, magazine, or newspaper article.

So, my trip to the Nichiren Buddhist center in Columbus, Ohio turned out to be a gratifying and worthwhile experience. My curiosities were put to rest, and I was now well on my way to discovering the Buddhist spiritual path.

Come to think of it, I never did chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo at the center that day, but I made definite plans to return to take a stab at chanting daimoku. I returned a week later to do just that!

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