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Buddhists to Honor Buddha’s Enlightenment with Banquet

This December marks the passage of some twenty-five hundred years since a man now called the Buddha (“Awakened One”) saw clearly into the nature of suffering and how to liberate oneself from it.

In 2004, members and friends of the Berea College Buddhist Student Association will commemorate the Buddha’s enlightenment by celebrating the Japanese festival known as Rohatsu.

Rohatsu is an abbreviation of the Japanese words meaning “last month of the year” and “eight days,” and refers to the first week of December, in which Japanese Buddhists remember the Buddha’s enlightenment. During this period of time, Buddhist monks pursue a highly demanding regiment of spiritual practices, including going without sleep in order to meditate constantly, in the hope of replicating the Buddha’s achievement.

In Berea, those who wish to celebrate the occasion can gather, along with members and friends of the Buddhist Student Association, for the annual Rohatsu Banquet (December 10, 7 p.m., Woods-Penn Commons) to enjoy homemade Asian dishes and hear a talk by Transylvania University professor of religion, Dr. Trina Jones.

Dr. Jones, who holds degrees from the University of Chicago and Davidson College, is an expert on Indian Buddhist thought, especially the philosophy of Vasubandhu (5th century A.D.). The title of her talk is, “If What the Buddha Taught is True, then I Can’t Even Remember My Own Name!”

Tickets to this once-a-year event are $5 apiece and may be purchased from Buddhist Student Association officers (Aren Majilang, Wendell Garnett, and Mai Yang) or the organization’s faculty adviser (Jeffrey Richey). Tickets also may be reserved at the International Center.

The Buddhist Student Association, first organized in 2002, exists to develop and sustain a community for Buddhist students at Berea College and to promote dialogue between Buddhists and non-Buddhists in the Berea community. Previous activities and events sponsored by this organization include introductory meditation sessions, field trips to museums and lectures (including one given by the 14th Dalai Lama in 2003), and Buddhist dialogues with members of other faiths.

*This article was written by Jeffrey L. Richey, professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion.

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