Auckland event for ten years of the New Zealand Buddhist Council
All photographs by Angie Ong
The weather on the day of the Peace Walk in Auckland began with steady and at times heavy rain. Despite this, at least sixty people attended, coming from as far south as Christchurch and as far north as Dargaville. At Cornwall Park we assembled in the shelter of the Band Rotunda, sharing it for a time with a large group of runners starting a marathon.
Ven. Amala gave a brief talk, pointing out that tangata whenua would see the rain as a sign of blessing (perhaps by local nagas?), and that if we consider the walk as a pilgrimage then hardship is to be expected and welcomed. She said that the main purpose of the walk was to express gratitude for our having encountered the Buddhadharma in this lifetime, and for being able to practice it freely in Aotearoa.
The first stop on our walk was Tsi Ming temple. Due to the heavy rain we did not attempt to make the outdoor incense offerings, but stopped for a photo.
The rain continued as we walked through Ellerslie to Pu Shien temple, where we were warmly welcomed and given slippers to replace sodden shoes and towels to dry off wet clothing, before proceeding upstairs to sit in the Buddha Hall. Incense sticks were lit and distributed to everyone, and then Master Chang Lin told us a bit about the temple, which is in the Pure Land tradition, and answered questions. Then she and Ven. Chang Shien chanted the Heart Sutra in Chinese and incense offerings were made on behalf of everyone present. We then had a chance to chat over a cup of tea before heading off, refreshed and warmed up, on the next leg of our walk.
By the time we left Pu Shien temple, the rain had eased, and our next stop was Soka Gakkai (SGINZ), where we were welcomed by members of their executive committee from around NZ, who were there for their monthly planning meeting. In their auditorium we watched a short video about SGI, before a question and answer session. They opened the doors of the altar so that we could view the scroll which contains the mantra Nam Myoho Renge Kyo that they chant in homage to the Lotus Sutra. Further refreshments were offered there. It was fine enough for a photo to be taken outside the building.
We walked onward to Mt Wellington. As our procession went along the Ellerslie-Panmure Highway bearing Buddhist flags, and the NZBC banner, occasionally passing cars honked their horns in greeting.
Arriving at our final stop, the Auckland Buddhist Vihara, the walkers were treated to a delicious lunch prepared by the Auckland Theravada Buddhist Association. Ajahn Chandako then gave a talk about the roots that are common to all Buddhist traditions: the Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree and his first teaching of the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. As Ajahn said,
- “Our destination today is the Bodhi Tree, the earliest symbol of the Awakening that is possible for all of us. Whether we are walking on the path of Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana or Zen, one teaching we all have in common, one teaching to which we all trace our roots, is the teaching in the Deer Park of Sarnath. Here, for the first time, Gotama Buddha transformed the profound wisdom of his enlightenment into the concepts of the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. Because we’ve heard these teachings so many times, it’s easy to forget how radical and difficult it was to take a formless liberated mind and put it into words that others could understand and to formulate a practical lifestyle that others could follow. It’s amazing to think how this one Dharma talk has stood the test of time.”
After that, we launched the Buddhist Council’s tenth anniversary booklet, and copies were distributed, along with mala beads.
The rain poured down again as we faced and paid respects to the Vihara’s Bodhi Tree, the largest in Aotearoa. Ajahn Chandako and other monks then chanted blessings and dedicated merit.
- Geshe Wangchen from Dorje Chang Institute said of the Peace Walk: “I really enjoyed the Peace Walk. Gathering people from the different traditions of Buddhism together to do the pilgrimage walk was very good and also contributes to world peace. It was a very worthwhile event.”
- Dennie and Anja who attended from Northland with their two-year-old daughter told us, “we were very glad that we had the chance to participate in this so very well organised event. We had a very pleasant experience and it was nice to meet with so many like-minded people. Well done and we hope there will be more to come. Only through inner peace can outer peace arise and both were very tangible on the walk. Thank you for making us feel so welcomed.”
- Extra copies of Buddhist Council’s tenth anniversary booklet can be ordered here.
- Auckland – 10,800 Steps for Peace invitation article.