Hard it is to be born into human life; now we are living in it. Difficult it is to hear the Teachings of the Blessed One; now we hear them.


Your arrival at this website is a remarkable event. Innumerable causes and conditions have brought you to this page at this moment. We hope you find this website a useful portal to the profound and practical teachings of the Buddha, the insights of Jodo Shinshu founder Shinran Shonin, and the vibrant community of Shin Buddhists in Hawaii.

Here are a few signposts to help you choose the paths that work best for you.

Visiting a temple and attending a service

2013.11.01.104330 Hongpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin Hilo HawaiiWith over 30 temples throughout the Hawaiian Islands, chances are there is a Jodo Shinshu temple near you. Use the Temple Locator to see where they are. Services are typically offered on Sunday mornings. Some temples offer separate services geared toward families with young children. Use the contact information in the Temple Locator to learn about a temple’s service times and offerings. All are welcome!

First-time visitors to Jodo Shinshu temples are often surprised at how similar in form the services are to what they may be familiar with from other traditions. Attendees wear shoes into the temple, sits in pews or chairs, sing hymns (gathas), listen to a sermon (or dharma talk), and the congregation (sangha) shares fellowship over coffee and refreshments after the service. Here’s a handy service guide with more information about the standard, Jodo Shinshu service.

Learning some Buddhist basics

Photo of painting of Gautama Buddha's first sermon at the Deer Park taken by Wikipedia user KayEss. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sermon_in_the_Deer_Park_depicted_at_Wat_Chedi_Liem-KayEss-1.jpegIf you’d like some basic information about general Buddhism and/or Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, this website is a good place to start. The items on the Learn menu will get you started and provide suggestions for further study.

Another resource is audio dharma talks on the radio, some of which are available on-demand (see Radio Dharma). You can also access other selected dharma talks on-demand, most in written form.

Taking a Buddhism class or attending a workshop or lecture

Dharma LIght Program: Illuminating the Buddhist Path (logo with Bodhi tree leaf)If you become active with a specific temple, you will hear about special events through announcements after service or through the temple newsletter. Selected events, especially those organized by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii (including the Buddhist Study Center), are listed in our online calendar. These include our annual Summer Session, a week-long series of lectures and discussion, typically with noted Buddhist scholars.

The Dharma Light Program, a program of the Buddhist Study Center, offers inexpensive and highly-rated classes such as “The ABCs of Buddhism,” “Understanding Shin Buddhism: First Steps,” and “Buddha and Christ: Buddhism in a Christian Land” to name a few. Each class meets weekly for 3-6 weeks.

Exploring programs for children and youth

Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii and its temples offer a rich array of programs for children and youth. Most temples offer Dharma School (like Sunday School) where children receive age-appropriate instruction in Buddhism and participate in related crafts, activities, and outings. Some temples also host programs such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Young people may participate in Young Buddhist Associations (YBA) and Junior YBA groups either at their temple, at the district level, or at Hawaii-wide events like YESS Camp. (YESS Camp is a Buddhist youth retreat; YESS stands for Young Enthusiastic Shinshu Seekers.)

Pacific Buddhist Academy logo (wheel and leaves)Pacific Buddhist Academy (PBA) is a college-preparatory high school featuring peace education and Buddhist values. The school is growing and has built a new classroom building on a campus shared with the Hawaii Betsuin temple and Mission headquarters near downtown Honolulu.

Hongwanji Mission School (K-8, est. 1949), sponsored by the Hawaii Betsuin, is across the Pali Highway from PBA and likewise features programs guided by Buddhist values.

Trying some of the cultural offerings of the Hongwanji community

Bon dance at dusk around an ornate, red-and-white-striped central stageMany people participate in Bon Odori, a summer festival of dancing where we remember and celebrate our departed ancestors and express our gratitude for their continued guidance in our lives. Bon dance season begins at the end of June and extends through the summer. Hongwanji members and visitors from the community alike enjoy dancing, shave ice, yakisoba, and many other delicious food items. Depending on the temple, tours and Q&A with the ministers may be offered during Bon Odori.

Some temples host cultural class offerings such as flower arranging, taiko drumming, dancing, painting, exercise and language. See what the temples near you offer. Use the Temple Locator to look up contact information and web links.

Whichever pathways you choose, we hope you will join our extended Sangha and realize the joy of experiencing Buddha’s all-embracing wisdom and compassion.