|The account of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center was prepared
by Anand Bhattacharyya, Hindu member of the Kansas City Interfaith Council
and formerly president of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center. Linda Prugh,
of the Vedanta Society of Kansas City, composed the information on Vedanta.
The listings of Buddhist organizations was made by Kevin Dowd and Kate
Gaynor Riha, students in Vern Barnet‘s spring term “Religion in American
Society” class at Ottawa University — Kansas City and edited by CRES
staff for this space.
Additional installments appear throughout the year as reference supplements to the monthly bulletin, Many Paths.
Hindu Temple and Cultural Center
Hindu Temple and Cultural Center
History: The Hindu faith community is a growing community in the Midwestern states. In the early 1980s the Hindu community leaders in the greater Kansas City area felt the need to build a place of worship for their own faith people. The idea was strongly supported by the members of the community. A nonprofit organization, “Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Kansas City,” was formed in 1982. Since most members of the Hindu community in the greater Kansas City area live in Kansas, a site in the city of Shawnee, KS, was selected on which to build the temple. In 1985 the ground breaking ceremony was performed and the construction started. In 1988 the Hindu Temple building was completed. The next step was to build the shrine in the prayer hall and install the deities. This was completed in 1990 and the dedication ceremony was performed in April, 1991.
Services: The services are performed regularly by the temple priest. Almost all services are performed in Sanskrit, the ancient language of the Hindu scriptures. Sometimes the priest explains the meaning of the services in English. Regular services are performed on a daily basis. The special services are performed on special occasions in Hindu calendar, such as the religious celebrations. The temple premises are also used by the members of the Hindu community for weddings and other private family ceremonies.
Congregation: The temple serves the Hindu community living in the greater Kansas City area, as well as those living in neighboring cities, such as Lawrence and Topeka. The present strength of the Hindu community in the temple service area is approximately one thousand families. The congregation consists of mostly Hindu immigrants from India. Hindu immigrants from other countries, such as Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and from some African countries, such as Kenya and Uganda are also a part of the congregation. Sometimes people from other religious backgrounds are invited by their Hindu friends to join the services of Hindu temple. Many church groups and local area school students visit Hindu Temple as a part of their study of the Hindu religion.
Youth Program: Many Hindu immigrant families think it is important to expose their children to the rites of their religious tradition. Several youth programs have been instituted. These include Dharma camps, where the children learn about different religious practices from the temple priest, and the teaching of Hindu devotional songs.
Religious Discourse: Every month a speaker is chosen from the local community or from outside to present a talk on different topics on the Hindu religion and its impact on life. These discussions are conducted in English. In addition, visiting swamis and other distinguished religious persons are invited to the temple and give scholarly discussions on some aspect of Hindu religion and Hindu philosophy. The temple has also sponsored interfaith discussions to bring awareness of diverse faith traditions in this area.
Additional Activities: Congregation members collect food for needy
people, serve in the community soup kitchen, etc.
History: The American Buddhist Center was founded three years ago by Ben Worth, a Christian minister and self-described recovering lawyer. While Ben practices Theravadan meditation, the American Buddhist Center is best described as an umbrella organization, with different Buddhist groups sharing it as a gathering place.
Gatherings: The American Buddhist Center is located at Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W 47, Kansas City, MO 64112, and holds gatherings most days of the week. Currently, Monday meetings, 7:30 - 9 pm, are presented by the Heartland Community of Mindful Living and are based on the teachings of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Tuesday gatherings, 7 - 9 pm, are led by teachers from the Kansas Zen Center and are based on the teachings of Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn. Wednesday gatherings, 7 - 9 pm are titled “ABC’s of Mindfulness,” and consists of exercises to understand and experience the body, feelings, mind and mental states. Thursdays gatherings, 7 - 9 pm, are led by Heart of America Sangha members, with meditation and discussion based on the teachings of the Theravadan tradition of Buddhism. Sunday gatherings, 9 - 10 am features Meditation, Message and Metta (loving kindness).
Membership: All are welcome to attend events. Knowledge of meditation techniques is not necessary prior to attendance.
Mission/Vision: To foster exploration and enrichment of personal potential through Buddhist philosophy and meditation. The Four Nobel Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path guide the promotion of meditation, education, and inspiration through various activities and resources.
Additional Activities: The Center hosts retreats, offers counseling, and sponsors community outreach programs. Current work includes the Good Samaritan Project, the Prison Meditation Project, and a young adult study group.
Additional Information: Contact Ben Worth, Founder/Director of the American Buddhist Center at 561.4466 x143. The American Buddhist Center is also on the internet at http://members.tripod.com~Buddhist center/entrance.html.
History: The center was founded in the early 1970s by Chogyam Trungpa and offers Tibetan form of Buddhism, teaching the Kagyu and Nyingma meditation lineages.
Gatherings: The group meets Thursdays 7 pm and Sundays 9 am - noon. Gatherings are held at the Shambhala Center, 2302 S Ferre, Kansas City, KS. Knowledge of meditation techniques is not necessary prior to attendance – group members teach meditation instruction. The group also sponsors seminars and periodically sponsors teachers for instruction.
Membership: This group draws individuals from across the metropolitan Kansas City area, and all are welcome.
Mission/Vision Statement: Om mani padme hum.
Additional Information: Contact the Shambhala Center, 677.4835 or David Carey, 561.5365.
History: The International Order of Interbeing was founded in the mid 1960s by the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk, peace activist, poet, and Nobel Prize nominee, with a mission to work for peace without taking sides in the Vietnam war. Today, members of the Order seek to change themselves, by living joyful and mindful lives, in order to change society in the direction of compassion and understanding. We are a group of friends who follow the teaching of Zen Master Thích Nhât Hanh and support one another in the practice of mindfulness.
Gatherings: The group meets Mondays 7:30 pm and is open to all. Gatherings are held at Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 West 47, Kansas City, MO. For the schedule, please click on the link below.
Membership: This group draws from across the metropolitan Kansas City area and all are welcome.
Emphasis: Mindfulness of Breathing and Mindfulness in Daily Life. The practice is grounded in the fourteen Mindfulness Trainings (a contemporary adaptation and expansion of the Buddha’s Five Moral Precepts), and is active and engaged.
Additional information: Call Bethany Klug: (816) 333-3043 or e-mail DBKlug@SprintMail.com or visit http://www.geocities.com/dshunyata/index.htm .
History: Mid America Dharma Group, known locally as MADG, came about as an outgrowth of the Menninger Clinic in Topeka. Menninger began a series of gatherings in Council Grove, where speakers would give talks to Menninger therapists on a variety of subjects. One featured speaker was Shinzen Young (born Abraham Young), who spoke on meditation. Shinzen was the catalyst for Mid America Dharma, which hosted fourteen meditation-oriented retreats in 1998. Mid America Dharma became a non-profit organization six years ago. Columbia, MO, is now the headquarters for Mid America Dharma Group.
Mission Statement: The mission of the Mid America Dharma Group is to teach and promote the vipassana meditation technique. Vipassana (“insight” or “mind-fulness”) is a Buddhist technique originating in Southeast Asia.
Retreat Scheduling: Retreats are held periodically throughout the year at Conception Abbey in Maryville, MO. Retreats run from one to ten days. Meals are strictly vegetarian. Since the retreats are silent, no radios, television, or even journaling is permitted. Anyone is allowed to attend, though it is expected that attendees already know meditation techniques. Individuals wishing to obtain instructions for learning meditation techniques can call Unity Temple on the Plaza or the Continuing Education Department at Johnson County Community College. Retreat attendees come from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois.
Additional Information: Contact John Flaherty or Marnie Hammer at 816. 523.5061. Marnie is a current board member for MADG.
History: The Rime Buddhist Center is an outgrowth of the Mindfulness Meditation Foundation begun in 1994 by Chuck and Mary Stanford. This non-sectarian center is dedicated to the cultivation of wisdom and compassion.
Vision Statement: To provide a qualified program of Buddhist studies and Tibetan culture taught by lamas and other Tibetan teachers, while also promoting a harmonious relationship of understanding between Tibetans and Westerners. The Center has two purposes: (1) to provide a destination for the study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism and (2) to help preserve the endangered Tibetan culture by offering classes in Tibetan language, arts, and religion for Western students and scholars, and to make these resources available in the heart of America.
Facility: The Rime Buddhist Center is in the process of procuring a suitable building to house a practice center, classrooms, and a small monastery.
Additional Information: contact Lama Chuck Stanford at (hm.) 913.897.5316.
History: The Kansas Zen Center was founded in 1978 by Zen Master Seung Sahn, who came to the United States in 1972 to found the Kwan Um School of Zen. The Center has been an affiliate of the School since then.
Gatherings: The Kansas Zen Center, 1423 New York, Lawrence, KS 66044, offers Zen meditation training through both morning and evening practice. Morning practice occurs Monday through Friday 6 - 7 am, Saturday 6 - 8 am, and Sunday 9:30 - 11:30 am. Evening practice takes place only Monday through Thursday 7 - 8 pm. Retreats are held every month and are either half day or an intensive two days in length. They are designed to help individuals realize their true nature and to develop compassion for the world. In addition to meditation and retreats, the Kansas Zen Center gives teaching interviews (conducted during retreats), conducts Buddhist study courses, offers celebrations, and conducts Precept Ceremonies. At the present time, members serve at the Lawrence Interdenominational Kitchen.
Membership: Although it is not mandatory for attending activities at the Kansas Zen Center, membership does entitle individuals to reduced rates for retreats and subscriptions to newsletters. Visitors are always welcome to attend practice – meditation instruction will be provided for any visitor who needs it. Satellite groups meet in Kansas City at Unity Temple on the Plaza and in Topeka.
Additional Information: Kansas Zen Center 785.331.2274.
History: Soka Gakkai International-USA (SGI-USA), is an American Buddhist movement that promotes peace and individual happiness based on the philosophy and practice of the Nichiren school of Mahayana Buddhism. SGI is a worldwide organization of Buddhist lay believers dedicated to peace, culture and education. The Soka Gakkai (“Value Creation Society“) dates to 1930. In 1960, Daisaku Ikeda brought it to the US. He is the current SGI president. The activities of SGI are based on the philosophies of Nichiren Daishonin (1222-1282). The SGI sponsors exhibits to benefit children’s and environmental causes and encourages members to become involved in community activities. SGI-USA is a non-governmental organization of the United Nations and has a history of donating money, food and clothing to UN relief efforts. SGI emphasizes the sanctity of human life and peace.
Gatherings: Local SGI gatherings are held monthly at 1804 Broadway Boulevard in Kansas City, MO, 64108 and include world peace prayer meetings and study meetings. Discussion meetings are held in members’ homes throughout the metropolitan area. Weekly new member meetings, introductory meetings, and chanting sessions are also held. Anyone can attend these gatherings. SGI attendees chant the phrase Nam myo-ho-renge-kyo.
Membership: Membership in SGI-USA is available to individuals who wish to support the goals of the SGI, which is committed to individual happiness, the prosperity of each country and society, and world peace.
Focus: To cherish each individual despite environmental, economic, and military crises. SGI members believe that Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, a humanistic philosophy of infinite respect for the sanctity of life and all-encompassing compassion, enables individuals to cultivate and bring forth their inherent wisdom and nurturing human spirit, to overcome difficulties and crises facing humankind, and realize a society of peaceful and prosperous co-existence.
Additional Information: In the Kansas City area, contact John Ford, 816.474.7973. For US information, contact Al Albergate, SGI Public Relations, 310.260.8900.
History: The Temple was formed about fifteen years ago.
Membership: Mostly Vietnamese immigrants.
Gatherings: Sundays, 10 am - 1 pm at 1614 White Ave, Kansas City, MO 64126. Group services and youth activities are offered.
The Reverend Thich-Chan-Tinh, 816.241.9371.
History: This organization was started by two sisters, Cecily Fatima Sabato and Stephanie Nuria Sabato, following a trip to India in 1996. Its aim is to save Tibetan Buddhists from the genocide and persecution in Tibet by the Chinese authorities (the majority of Tibetans are Buddhists). The group began in 1997 and is essentially a program to sponsor exiled refugees.
Gatherings: The organization sponsors numerous educational and cultural events featuring Tibetan art and lectures on Tibetan Buddhism. It also holds prayer vigils, musical benefits, and features many of the most distinguished lamas of Tibetan Buddhism. This group is open to anyone wishing to participate. The Board welcomes any volunteers wishing to assist with fundraising activities. For volunteer opportunities, call Kate Ottinger 816.361.3704.
Additional Information: Contact Stephani Nuria Sabato at 816.920.6117, 816.920.5606; 1824 Newton, Kansas City, MO 64126
History: The first two Vedanta Societies in the United States were founded in 1894 and 1900 by Swami Vivekananda, chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, who helped found the Ramakrishna Order of India. Swami Vivekananda represented Vedic religion [Hinduism] at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, during the World's Columbian Exposition. The swami taught in the U.S. and England for several years. Later, twelve more Vedanta Societies were established in the U.S. by monks of the Ramakrishna Order. One of them was the Vedanta Society of St. Louis, founded in 1938.
The Vedanta Society of Kansas City was founded in 1947 by Swami Satprakashananda,
minister of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis. His successor, Swami Chetanananda,
is minister of both Societies. In 1985 the Society purchased its present
building at 8701 Ward Parkway, where regular programs are held. The Society
has a lending library of books and audiotapes
Emphasis: Veda means knowledge; anta means culmination. Vedanta describes spiritual laws which operate throughout the universe. These spiritual laws were discovered by generations of sages in India who had a passionate yearning to understand the entire spectrum of life. Their realizations, which came to them through meditation, were recorded in the Vedas. In the concluding portions of these ancient scriptures, their highest experiences were recorded. These sections are known as the Upanishads or the Vedanta. Knowledge of these is regarded as the highest wisdom one can have in this life. Though Vedanta philosophy is the source of Hinduism, it is not confined to Hinduism or to any culture or any religion.
Vedanta teaches that our real nature, our real Self, is divine, a manifestation of the Infinite Divine Reality or Godhead. The aim of life is to realize this divinity. To help us achieve this goal, Vedanta teaches various methods suited to individual needs and capacities. According to Vedanta, Truth is universal and the different religions of the world are many paths leading to the same goal. It does not seek to convert but to support aspirants in their own spiritual paths.
Services: Regular Services are held on Sundays from 10:30 a.m.
to 12:30. These include a period of meditation and a program on a
spiritual topic. Most Service programs include a short presentation
on the Upanishads prepared by a devotee and a videotaped lecture by a monk
of the Ramakrishna Order of India. Special observances in honor of auspicious
days are planned by devotees. These often feature chanting, readings, symposiums,
dramas, and vigils. A Vespers Service is held every Wednesday evening.
Special classes and other programs conducted by Swami Chetanananda take
place on weekends several times during the year.
Membership: All are welcome to attend programs. Membership in the Society is available to those who are interested in the teachings of Vedanta, are in sympathy with the Society's ideals, and have attended programs for some time.
Other Activities: The Society holds an annual food and clothing drive to benefit the needy. Beneficiaries include the Don Bosco Centre, Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Association of the Blind.
One of the best spiritual resources in the Kansas City area is not a religious group but a museum. “The Nelson” has world class works of art that visually recall Buddhist history. Laurence Sickman, internationally respected scholar of Chinese art, collected many items early in the Museum’s development. Sickman’s skill has given the Nelson the core of one of the finest Oriental collections in the world.
The collection includes works from India, Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia, and shows how Buddhism adapted to each culture. This suggests that American Buddhism may also manifest its own religious and artistic forms.
A highlight is the Chinese Temple with its eight foot Bodhisattva “Seated Guanyin” statue, a superb example of Buddhist art from the 11th Century. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who refuse final bliss in order to help all sentient beings on their road to enlightenment. Guanyin Yin represents the Buddhist virtue of compassion, which is one of the two great Buddhist virtues (the other is wisdom). The Tantric collection includes sacred ritual objects. On a stairway is a nine foot Amida Buddha from Japan.
Additional Information: Contact Carol Inge-Hockett at 816.751.1239 in the Adult Education Department. The Nelson is located at 4525 Oak, Kansas City, MO 64111, three blocks northeast of the Country Club Plaza. The Nelson does not charge an admission fee on Saturday. Web site: http://www.nelson-atkins.org.
By SANGEETA SHASTRY | The Kansas City Star
If you had wandered by Indian Valley Elementary School
a few weekends ago, the sight would have been unremarkable.
Immigrants from India bring along their love for the game of cricket.
On a scorching hot day, members of the Kansas City Bengali Association
held a cricket tournament at Indian Valley Park near 116th Street and U.S.
69. Harsha Alluri took a swing at the ball from bowler Ranjan Ghosh.
PHOTOS BY JILL TOYOSHIBA| THE KANSAS CITY STAR
Participating in the Lakshmi Puja, or prayer to the goddess Lakshmi,
were 18-year-old Aswathi Pradeep
Dances of India were featured during a recent fundraiser for the Leukemia
and Lymphoma Society that was held by the Kansas City Bengali Association.
Hema Sharma of Overland Park performed Jal Kamal inside the Nelson-Atkins
Museum of Art.
PHOTOS BY FRED BLOCHER | THE KANSAS CITY STAR
Many male Sikh followers wear turbans and refrain from shaving their beards. These men lined a wall during a recent service at the Midwest Sikh Association Gurudwara, 6834 Pflumm Road.
Part of the weekend worship gathering at the gurudwara in Shawnee involves
small meals between services. Women including Raj Ball (right) were in
the kitchen recently preparing roti.
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