‘May We Gather’ Brings Together Buddhists for Healing Service

An unprecedented gathering of Buddhist lineages and ethnicities came together May 4 at the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles to offer a united message of healing amid the alarming rise of anti-Asian hate and violence.

That May 4 date carried particular significance because it marked the 49th day after the horrific murder of eight people in Atlanta, Georgia — six of whom were Asian American women. In many Buddhist traditions, 49 days after death marks an important transition for the bereaved.

“May We Gather: A National Buddhist Memorial Ceremony for Asian American Ancestors,” was organized by Bay Area Buddhist writer Chenxing Han, a recent graduate of the Institute of Buddhist Studies and author of “Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists”; San Jose State University Professor Dr. Funie Hsu; and Rev. Dr. Duncan Ryuken Williams, a Soto Zen Buddhist priest and chair of the USC School of Religion.

A total of 49 clergy and teachers representing Jodo Shinshu, Nichiren, Zen, Fo Guang Shan, Theravada, Thien, Tibetan, and other traditions chanted during the 90-minute ceremony, which was livestreamed on YouTube and seen by thousands of people around the world. The event was supported by more than 350 Buddhist temples and churches and hundreds of clerics and individuals.