Founded in 1986, Ekoji Buddhist Sangha supports the teaching, practice, and study of Buddhism in the Greater Richmond area. We are a fellowship of the Buddhist Churches of America, an association founded over one hundred years ago.
Buddha and Buddhism
In India during the fifth century B.C.E., Siddhartha Gautama, taught a method of inquiry and practice to liberate people from suffering and realize compassion, wisdom, and happiness in this life. Siddhartha came to be called “Buddha,” the Awakened One, by his disciples. Buddha’s teachings focus on the practice of meditation, morality, and generosity to cultivate deep awareness of reality. He saw that all beings are impermanent, interdependent, and inherently enlightened. However, our enlightenment is obscured by delusion, which gives rise to suffering.
Out of compassion for the suffering he saw in the world, Buddha chose to teach his understanding in a way that relied on direct experience, rather than faith or revealed knowledge. Unlike other religions, Buddhism does not rely on a god to relieve our suffering, but encourages each of us to experience Truth for ourselves. Seeing Truth, we are liberated from the suffering created by our ignorance.
Ekoji Buddhist Sangha was founded by Reverend Kenryu Tsuji (1920-2004), a Japanese-American Pure Land priest. Responding to a request from Pure Land Buddhists for a place to practice in Richmond, he solicited the generous help of Numata Society. A building was purchased and weekly services began in 1986. Soon, other Buddhist groups seeking a temple found their way to Ekoji. Rev. Tsuji offered the space for other forms of Buddhism to practice. In 1991, a Zen group was established at Ekoji. A Tibetan group and a Vipassana group soon followed. In 2005, the Meditative Inquiry group began meeting at Ekoji as well.
Practice at Ekoji
Five different lineages of Buddhist practice are represented at Ekoji: Pure Land, Soto Zen, Tibetan Karma Kagyu, Vipassana and Meditative Inquiry. Each lineage has its distinctive forms and character, yet all have the “same taste of truth.”
Currently there is no resident priest at Ekoji. However, priests from other temples regularly visit to teach and support our practice at Ekoji.
Ekoji also supports a Buddhist practice group at Greensville Correctional Center, in Jarratt, Virginia. In 1998, inmates asked the prison chaplain to help them find practicing Buddhists to visit and encourage their efforts to practice. Ekoji was contacted and volunteers have been making regular trips ever since. Volunteers visit once a week and lead meditation, study, and discussion. Ekoji has also donated books and meditation supplies to the prison.
A schedule of meeting times for practice of the different Ekoji groups may be found on each group’s web page at this site. A contact person, phone, and email is also provided. We recommend newcomers get in touch with the group they intend to visit to learn about expectations, etiquette, etc.
Ekoji Buddhist Sangha operates as a non-profit religious organization. Our by-laws establish criteria for membership. A board of directors, elected by Participating Members, oversees the management of the Sangha’s resources. We have two types of membership: Associate and Participating. Associate members are those who support the Sangha through donations. Participating members support the Sangha through donation as well as volunteer services, such as maintaining our facilities or serving on the board of directors. Further, Participating Members vote to elect the board, pass an annual budget, and decide other Sangha issues.
Ekoji Buddhist Sangha is supported entirely by donations. Funds are directed primarily toward operation and maintenance of the building and grounds, but also our growing library, a prison outreach program, and Sangha events such as Dharma Movie Night. All donations are tax-deductible.
Two things will lead you to supreme understanding. What are those two? Tranquility and insight.
If you develop tranquility, what benefit can you expect? Your mind will develop. The benefit of a developed mind is that you are no longer a slave to your impulses.
If you develop insight, what benefit will it bring? You will find wisdom. And the point of developing wisdom is that it brings you freedom from the blindness of ignorance.
A mind held bound by unconsidered impulse and ignorance can never develop true understanding. But by way of tranquility and insight the mind will find freedom.
— Further Discourses of the Buddha