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Reflections From the July “Peace Through Service Japan Trip”

By Gary Nash, Blake School Faculty

The “Peace Through Service Japan Trip” was an amazing and life-changing adventure. I was given the opportunity to experience Japanese culture first-hand, through the expert guidance of Shinnyo-en staff. On this trip, I was able to get a glimpse into the practice of Shinnyo-en Buddhism, while using the lens of “Peace through Service” as a means of challenging myself about my path to peace.

I found the Japanese people to be a kind and generous people. I was constantly amazed by their willingness to warmly greet and accept us at every turn. The community was so clean, well cared for, and inviting. Attention to detail was evident, as was a pride in all that they do.
The entire staff at Shinnyo-en Foundation was outstanding. Each member went out of his or her way to help us at all times – being sure that we had the best experience possible. They were truly modeling the idea of service on our behalf. Such acts of kindness taught me so much.

The beauty of the many temples, shrines, and gardens impressed me. Each had a charm and serenity that lent itself to contemplation and the search for peace. Of particular significance was the inside look we had at the Festival of Joy and at Daigoji, where we witnessed an actual service being performed by the monks. I felt privileged to see the sincerity and devotion exhibited by the followers.

Hiroshima was a moving and significant experience. Walking its streets really brought to reality the devastation that happened there and the futility of war. It was the ideal place to show the need for understanding and peace in our world. It was the ideal place for all of us to commit to our path to peace and, specifically, peace through service.

I took from this trip so many things. I saw how important it is to experience other cultures and beliefs. I learned that there is more to understanding than just reading something in a book– like the Buddhist philosophy of esotericism. The trip has made me want to work further for peace in our world, through my own acts of service. I saw first-hand that each of us must do our part – that there are indeed Six Billion Paths to Peace.
I return from Japan with a keen appreciation of the experience that the Shinnyo-en Foundation has provided for me. It was an adventure that will play a significant role in my life, as the lessons learned will serve me well into the future. My utmost gratitude to Shinnyo-en Foundation!