An inaugural ceremony for the completion of a new building and the enshrinement of a Buddha statue was held July 1 in the presence of Rissho Kosei-kai's president-designate, Rev. Kosho Niwano. Twenty years have passed since the Dharma seed was first planted in Sakhalin, and local members rejoiced over the long-awaited ceremony.
In 1992, 20 university students from the Hokkaido district, headed by Rev. Norio Sakai (a former minister of the Sapporo Dharma Center and now a consultant to Rissho Kosei-kai), made a voyage to Sakhalin for peace education. Through a Dharma encounter with them, the late Mrs. Misa Nagano, the mother of Ms. Aiko Boku (the area leader of the Sakhalin Dharma Center), became the first member of Rissho Kosei-kai in Sakhalin.
Since then, Sakhalin members have devoted themselves to disseminating the Dharma for twenty years, with the warm support of Hokkaido district members.
Sakhalin members were delighted by the arrival of the auspicious inauguration day. The attendees included some 70 members from Sakhalin and 27 from the Hokkaido district mission, led by Rev. Katsumasa Imai, head of the East Japan Area.
Rev. Niwano conducted the ceremony of unveiling the Buddha statue. When she lifted the veil to reveal it, the attendees burst into joyful applause. As a representative of Sakhalin members, Ms. Aiko Boku testified to her experience of the faith. She said she had vowed to the Buddha "to become a cheerful, kind, warmhearted person, so that many people will be happy."
It was the president-designate's first time to conduct an inaugural ceremony. In her Dharma talk she said, "When you face various kinds of difficulties, please just try to change your attitude to the kind of warm-heartedness revealed in the appearance of this Buddha statue. A warm heart is a true treasure that no one can take away.
Rissho Kosei-kai hopes that its first enshrinement of a Buddha statue in Russia will encourage many people to gather at the Dharma center, so that the circle of liberation will spread wide, from one person to another.
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