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Sogenji monastery

Sogenji´s Yearly Bazaar

Mumon Roshi had started the organization RACK for helping in Southeast Asian Countries. In a similar vein, Harada Roshi wished to return some of the grace we have received from the countries which offered us the Buddha and are nowin such difficult material times, as well as without a very living Buddhist tradition, in comparison to how it was originally.

When Pamela Carson, a student of the Roshi's, left Boston she sold a very profitable business of Hamburgers and Wine  in order to find a way to help the suffering in the world. Eventually she felt that the best way for her to find her particular mission, after several years  of training and zazen with Harada Roshi in both Japan and the United States, was to go on pilgrimage , so she went on pilgrimage starting with India to find the true answer to the question"What is my mission in life for the Bodhisattva Way"?

She went to visit Mother Teresa's and worked in Calcutta and worked her way across to Nepal where her answer was to be found. She lived in Katmandu and fell in love with Nepal, she brought a Nepalese child home whom she eventually adopted, and started ETC, Educate The Children, a nonprofit group for raising money for helping especially the women and children she had met in Nepal. Her main bases were to have the Nepalese themselves doing the organizing on site in Nepal and she would make money for selling Nepalese made handmade goods in the States. ETC was such a well developed and skillfully structured organization that it received an award from the first lady, and is still well established in Ithaca, New York, even thought Pamela died of stomach cancer many years ago, after having seen her sturdy ETC efforts bear great and sustainable fruits.
 At Sogenji, where Pamela did zazen with Harada Roshi, we decided to have a yearly bazaar to make money for helping our sister sangha member with her excellent work in Nepal, simultaneously we decided to help the Tibetan nuns who had to flee from China across the Himalayas to do their training and also to help support the work of Bodhidaruma's efforts in India, to bring Buddhism to the many dalits, in the way of Dr. Ambedkar of whom Bodhi is a grandson disciple.
Of the contributions gathered, thirty percent are given to India, Nepal and Tibetan projects and the remaining ten percent is for variouis emergency funds needing help around the world like earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters.
From twenty years ago when the bazaar was started we have been through many different stages. Always we have asked for and received great amounts of offerings of items from the people in Okayama City, and then sold those items to people who come to the bazaar. People also can buy shaved ice with sweet beans and sweet milk, or foods sold by the local organic store, some homemade items from some of our physically handicapped friends who come and share their lovely wares, such as dried flower postcards and hand made key chains. 
Of course the biggest draw of the whole bazaar is that each year one can purchase calligraphies by Shodo Harada Roshi. There are always full sized calligraphies, summer fans, both round and folding, square calligraphy cards and sometimes T-shirts or eco bags with his calligraphy printed on them.
Walking up  the pathway into the bazaar, in the welcome shade of the Sogenjis trees in the August searing weather, there are places to buy potted plants and herbs, or to sit and have an herb tea or cold drink. On tatami benches in the huge wooden Sanmon, school children serve formal tea ceremony in their kimonos and sneakers with their very serious well practiced tea ceremony bows and motions. The tea ceremony candy is donated  by a very high class bean cake maker who has a long affiliation with Sogenji.
The Bazaar lasts from nine in the morning until two in the afternoon and accompanies the Bishamon Ceremony and is also a start to the Obon season, both of which you can see in other sections in the website. 
In Japan at the end of the ancestor honoring season of Obon, their offerings are sent out to sea to accompany the ancestors back as they return, and the lanterns which light the way for that custom are also sold at the bazaar, as well as bamboo sumi made at Sogenji out of Sogenji grown bamboo and miso made at Sogenji.
After the cleanup, the favorite drawing event for all of the bazaar helpers is a final tea with the Roshi who gives each person who helps a calligraphy and a short dharma talk on the meaning of the calligraphy, along with  a cup of cool tea and a few minutes of sitting down, for the first time during this busy day.
Then the unsold goods are put away to take to the thrift shop, the bamboos of the decoration for the old calendar celebration of TanaBata, the weaver and cowboy star festival that were put up with their bamboo and bright decorations are taken down again, and Sogenji returns from this dream of a hot summer day to a simple Zen monastery with its strong beat and deep pulse of that same vow that started Pamela walking toward Nepal, twenty some years ago.

Today is the preparation day of the Bazaar, all things being put on display in the Kohojo. Pictures of the actual event will follow, as well as more information on the supported projects.


Due to Roshi's busy schedule this year, we are currently not accepting any new questions at this time

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