Kosho Itagaki, resident priest

Kosho Itagaki, resident priest of the Eishoji Soto Zen Temple in Bellevue, Washington chanted the Three Refuges at the Interfaith Memorial for Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims held May 15th at Seattle University.

Interfaith Memorial for Victims of Japan Quake & Tsunami

On Sunday, May 15, an interfaith memorial and compassion service took place in the Chapel of St. Ignatius on the Seattle University campus. The service honored victims and survivors of the powerful earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan in early March.

Seattle University philosophy professor Jason Wirth led off the service, recalling our inter-connections with all beings and the compassion that naturally arises from our recognition of these connections.

After a ten-minute meditation, Kosho Itagaki, resident priest of the Eishoji Soto Zen Temple in Bellevue chanted the Three Refuges, followed by White Cloud priest Bill Hirsch, who chanted the Great Compassion Dharani in Pali.

Father Patrick Kelly, SJ, stressed again our connection with all beings and the compassion that results from it. He offered a prayer for those suffering in Japan and around the world. Dr. Kólá Abímbólá, a Yoruba priest and visiting scholar at the Center for Global Justice, chanted a Yoruba prayer and dirge, and Rabbi Jason Forbes recited the Kaddish (the Jewish mourners' prayer).

The service finished with reflections and thoughts from the audience, followed by the singing of "Amazing Grace".

Large temple bell

Members of the public were invited to ring the large temple bell at Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple in honor of those who perished in the disaster in Japan.

The service was jointly sponsored by the Seattle University EcoSangha and the Eishoji Soto Zen Temple.

The Seattle University service was one of many held throughout the Northwest. Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple held a First Seventh Day Memorial Service and tolling of the temple bell honoring those who perished in the quake and tsunami.

In pre-modern rural Japan, temple bells were rung repeatedly as a tsunami warning. In Seattle, the public was invited to ring the bonsho, the large temple bell enshrined outside the temple, in memory of the disaster victims. Many, including non-Buddhists from outside the Japanese community, took advantage of the opportunity to express their sorrow and support for victims.

The Seventh Day Memorial is an expression of spiritual oneness with the deceased in the boundless wisdom and compassion of the Buddha. It expresses connection in shared sorrow and is also intended to help participants to heal.

Subsequent seven day memorial services were held each Friday for seven weeks, the traditional Japanese mourning period.

Contributor: Bill Hirsch.
Photos: Jason Wirth, Julie Welch.