Pennies From the Pure Land: Practicing the Dharma, Hanging Out, and Raising Funds for the Oldest Buddhist Temple Outside Asia
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AbstractJōdo Shinshū temples outside of Asia draw on mutually-reinforcing networks of Dharma practice, social association, and fundraising/labour to meet community and individual needs. These three phenomena rarely, if ever, occur apart from one another. Rather, each is an indelible aspect of the others, such that fundraising is a form of Dharma practice, gathering with peers is a way to raise money, and Buddhism is practiced as a form of group solidarity and support. These tight weaves have enabled temples to thrive in racially and religiously hostile lands, under changing economic circumstances, and through periods of stability, war, and natural disaster. This article takes as its case study the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin, on the Big Island of Hawai’i, especially the late 20th century building of their multipurpose Sangha Hall. Fundraising for the building demonstrated the necessity of Dharma, social, and economic activities for the financial health of the temple.