A peace pagoda sounds like something you'd have to trek to Nepal to find, right? Uh-uh. There's a gorgeous one right in Rensselaer County, in the quiet little town of Grafton.
The Grafton Peace Pagoda is a lovely spot that's home to a famed Buddhist nun .
Here's the scoop.
The Grafton Peace Pagoda is one of 80 peace pagodas worldwide, but only two in the U.S. (the other one is actually pretty nearby in Massachusetts).
There are two buildings on the Grafton site --- the peace pagoda itself and a temple that is the home of Jun Yasuda, a Buddhist nun. Prayer services are conducted twice each day, around sunrise and sunset, and those who partake must remove their shoes and sit on a small rug. I was once lucky enough to accidentally stumble upon a prayer service and it was unlike anything I've ever participated in. I was even given a small drum to play. I'm not the most spiritual person, but it really did leave me with a feeling of calm.
Jun Yasuda is a pretty interesting person. She belongs to the Nipponzan Myohoji order. Back in 1978, she walked from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. with Native Americans as part of the "longest walk," a coordinated peace movement. And since then, she's walked cross-country several time in the name of peace.
Yasuda, was born in Japan. She discovered Buddhism in her mid-20s, while traveling through India after a divorce. Eventually she met Nichidatsu Fujii, the founder of Nipponzan Myohoji, in Sri Lanka. That meeting led to her involvement with what was called "the Longest Walk," which was aimed at promoting and garnering rights for America's indigenous people.
In 1983, she was offered a parcel of land in Grafton, N.Y. and two years later, work got underway on a monument for peace. The Grafton Peace Pagoda was dedicated in 1993 and it's been attracting visitors from around the world ever since. Yasuda is still participating in demonstrations and walks for peace, including a commemoration of the 64th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombings held just last week. There's also an annual celebration of Ghandi's birthday held there each October and annual Sept. 11 walk.
Visitors are welcome to check out the pagoda, partake in the services or wander the peaceful gardens.
Photo: Sebastien Barre
The Grafton Peace Pagoda
87 Crandall Rd.
Petersburgh, NY 12138
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