First, it will mark
the 750th memorial of Shonin, who reformed the aristocratic
and philosophic practice of Buddhism into a universal spiritual
path. Called Jodo-Shinsu or "Shin" Buddhism, it
is one of the most widely practiced branches in the world.
Second, it will be a vehicle for teaching about his life
and the hardships he endured in gaining and sharing insight
with the common man.
Third, it will give people a chance to search their thoughts
free of expectation, to explore their own layers of consciousness.
"There are two worlds, the normal world where our egos
function and the natural world of truth. Trapped in the normal
world, we can awaken in glimpses to that natural reality and
the harmony and peace that is natural to all things,"
Fujimoto said. "If you are aware of your connections
to all of reality, it should be a natural thing that your
ego dissipates and you see your connectedness to everything
While many marathon participants are familiar with the pillars
and practice of Buddhism, Fujimoto said no experience is required.
Walkers will take steps with each chanted syllable of the
mantra, "Na-Man-Da-Bu," which means "calling
the name of Amida Buddha." He is the historical Buddha
who first achieved Nirvana, or freedom from individual suffering
and existence. He also represents acknowledgment of reality.
"We will be recognizing Amida Buddha not as a deity,
but as a symbol of truth," Fujimoto said, adding that
area church leaders and congregants from Catholic to Methodist
are planning to attend.
Sharmon Sabamori, a minister's assistant raised in the Ontario
temple, said: "Everyone will walk away with a different
experience. Some will be coming for loved ones they've lost.
There is a lot of grief in that, but grief is a process. Accepting
an illness is a process, and accepting our goodness is a process
as well. You might come out feeling more calm, connected,
perplexed, curious. Maybe you'll find something scary or something
that's 'aha!' All of this can happen."
Sabamori's Japanese grandfather was a devout Buddhist, and
though she looked into other religions, she returned to Jodo-Shinsu
for its focus on compassion, gratitude and acceptance.
Sabamori says these principles belong to all people and that
meditation can facilitate their practice, to whatever end.
"Meditation helps us find our connections and interconnectedness
with others and all the causes and conditions that have brought
us to this moment to breathe, feel, sense and appreciate,"
she said. "We can put all these kinds of thoughts into
people's heads, but they get it when they get it. So this
is an opportunity."