Chocolate Buddha

I spotted this confection at the Chicago French Market.

I assume that this pâtissier only intended that a chocolate Buddha confection would sell well; I doubt any deliberate offense to Buddhists. Even so, this is perhaps too fine an example of Buddhism consumerized and ingested as such. Not quite the traditional Dharma Burger, but I would still put it in the same category.

Taste of Chicago Buddhism

When I began blogging about Buddhism on Dharma Folk, there weren’t many Asian American Buddhists in the blogosphere. Now it seems as though every month I’m encountering a new blog written by an Asian American Buddhist. Taste of Chicago Buddhism is one such blog, written by Rev. Patti Nakai of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago.

The blog discusses topical issues on everything from Buddhism to Rev. Nakai’s community in ways that make me ever so slightly nostalgic for the Windy City. I particularly enjoyed her recent opinions on what students read about Buddhism. Her blog also paints another picture of “Chicago Buddhism” that’s quite a bit different from Stephen Asma’s red meat and whiskey version.

I hope you’ll have the chance to check out Taste of Chicago Buddhism and even enjoy it enough to add it to your blog list.

Bazaar Weekend

Obon season may be over, but temple festivities continue! This weekend the Buddhist Church of Sacramento and the Midwest Buddhist Temple(Chicago) are hosting bazaars. Both celebrations date back over half-a-century to a time when the Japanese American community struggled to rebuild itself out of the trauma of the concentration camps. As the Ginza Chicago website explains

Ginza Holiday found its beginning in 1956. […] The event serves two purposes; one as a fund raiser to meet the temple expenses and the other as a way of sharing Japanese traditions with the people of the neighborhood. […] The first event proceeded with some apprehension as it intended to draw upon the non-Japanese community. Most members harbored unfavorable experiences in the decade preceding. Uprooted from the West Coast to isolated camps, they made their final trek to Chicago on news of jobs and friendlier surroundings. The dread of non-acceptance ran deep.

The optimists among them proved right as fears were totally unwarranted. The good neighbors of Chicago attended in droves. Teriyaki chicken became an instant success. An old family recipe surely helped. To the consternation of a few, it may have eclipsed some of the cultural events.

These bazaars endure as a testament to the vitality of the Japanese American spirit and the temples’ longstanding openness to reach out to the local community. If you’re in Chicago or Sacramento and enjoy whiling your time kvetching about “insular Asian Buddhists”—please visit your local bazaar, grab some lunch or dinner and then leave me a comment to relate these temples’ insufferable refusal to be involved in the greater community!

Photo courtesy of Ginza Chicago.

Back from Chicago!

I just returned from a trip to Chicago, where I complained incessantly about the lack of 80 degree weather. Prompted by a question from Richard Harrold, one of the places I returned to was Wat Phrasriratanamahadhatu. Years ago I used to go there for chanting and meditation, and also for some of the major holidays. I also swung by Wat Khmer Metta, where some close friends of mine used to serve as monks. If any readers have visited either of these temples, I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Photos below!

(The larger space; front entrance on Broadway.)
Wat Khmer Metta
There is a lion in front!