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Lions Roar : September 2018
dismissive of the larger life of the temple, of which the sangha was an important part. The living community, the cultural aspect—that wasn’t Buddhism from their point of view.” BCA ministers responded by championing the BCA model as a space for sharing teachings that reflected the everyday sense of Buddhist life, rather than an exoticized Buddhism set apart from the world. “How racism plays in here is that these white men become the voice of Buddhism in the postwar years, particularly in mainstream, white America,” says Mitchell. “The Beats want to rail against the machine, and they think that Buddhism is not normal. Then they come to the BCA and Buddhism looks very normal. The BCA gets invisibilized, because Buddhism then gets co-opted for this other agenda—of being the ‘exotic other’ that white folks can go to and have fun with. But it’s completely disconnected from the family community. The full life of Bud- dhism includes women and children and rituals and ceremo- nies, not just stoic male monks sitting in a monastery.” Indeed, Rev. Kobata fondly remembers that his childhood at the BCA covered the spectrum of social, cultural, educational, and recreational activities, even featuring a Sunday school. “The temples were more than just religious institutions,” he says. “They were community centers.” Akiko Rogers: Coming Home to the BCA Akiko Rogers’ grandmother had been comatose and nonverbal for months. But when Rogers told her she was going to Japan to learn more about her culture and religion, her grandmother opened her eyes and said, “I’m happy.” It was then that Rogers knew she was choosing the right path. The Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley houses the BCA Cen- ter for Education, the Institute for Buddhist Studies, and the Today the BCA has more than sixty temples and more than 16,000 members across the U.S . “It’s the path for ordinary beings,” says Rev. Ronald Kobata. “We chant Namu Amida Butsu as an expression of gratitude.” PHOTO(L)BYKEITHKOJIMOTO