Who we are…
The EKŌ Association of European Shin Buddhists (“EKO-Gemeinschaft”) is a registered association, which must not be confused with the EKO-Haus of Japanese Culture Association. The latter one is the supporting association of the Japanese center in Dusseldorf, the “EKO-Haus”, in its entirety, meanwhile the EKO Association of European Shin-Buddhists (“EKO-Gemeinschaft”) is a small association, which supports the Shin Buddhist activities of the EKO temple.
When the entrepreneur Rev. Numata Ehan (1897-1994) founded the EKO-Haus and the affiliated EKO temple, his intention was to promote with the newly erected temple all denominations of Buddhism. Therefore, the temple belongs to the Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai, the Japan-based Association for the Promotion of Buddhism, initiated by Rev. Numata. This association is also in charge with the delegation of the Japanese priests.
Rev. Numata himself belonged to the Jōdo Shinshu Honganji-ha, hence the main hall is equipped in the style of this denomination. As Shin Buddhist temple of this size the EKŌ temple is unique in Europe, and the highest-ranking representatives of Jōdo Shinshū have repeatedly visited it. However, due to the wish of its founder it is an ecumenical Buddhist temple, so from its very beginnings, it also hosted Zen Buddhist activities and the open-mindedness to other religions has always been essential.
In this special situation, the EKŌ-Gemeinschaft, which focusses on the Shin Buddhist activities at the temple, was founded in 2000. Essentially, the association tries to invigorate the communication between the many different parties: the Shin Buddhist “church” in Japan (the Jōdo Shinshu Honganji-ha) and the different Shin Buddhist communities in Europe, which have been emerging since the 1950ies (e.g. the Buddhist Community Jodo Shinshu in Germany [BGJ-D]).
…and what we are doing
The annual Hōonkō seminar is made possible by a larger donation of the Nishi-Honganji, the main temple of the Honganji-ha in Japan. The donation enables the association to invite the referent from Japan who holds the Hōonkō seminar. In this way, the association makes decisions about the organization of the Hōonkō festivities. The association also influences by its advice all other Shin Buddhist activities of the EKŌ temple. It is a platform for discussing the development of Shin Buddhism in a short- and long-term perspective.
Although solely German-speaking members founded the association and the lingua franca in general meetings has been German so far, in the recent couple of years the importance of international interconnectedness has become more and more clear. Therefore, the association tries hard to create contacts between the various Shin Buddhist groups in UK, Belgium, French-speaking Swiss etc. It wants to be a partner for all Shin Buddhists in Europe, who is always accessible, and will place special emphasis on English-speaking events in future.