Star-Bulletin Features

Saturday, October 6, 2001

Jikyu Rose and the temple that she and her husband built.

Reflection and

Members of Manoa's Koganji
Temple will spend today fasting
and renewing a solemn vow to
the principles of Buddhism

By Mary Adamski

Today is a time of fasting and a solemn vow of commitment to the principles of Buddhism for 140 members of the Koganji Temple in Manoa. The white-clad followers of the Tendai sect will be sprinkled with water in the tokudo purification ritual.

The ceremony is part of a weekend of 20th-anniversary festivities at the temple, at 2869 Oahu Ave. Eleven Tendai clergy from Mount Hiei, Japan, the seat of this branch of Buddhism, arrived yesterday to join Bishop Jikyu Rose for the ceremonies.

Traffic generated by the weekend celebration, expected to draw many of the 350 temple members, will raise the visibility of the spiritual center, which is tucked unseen from the road in the neighborhood of upscale single-family homes. The colorful two-story temple is set on a 2-acre site down a terraced slope which includes parking for more than 100 cars and impeccable landscaping, a monument to the volunteer service of members.

A normal Saturday service draws 50 to 70 people. The weekday service is attended by fewer than a dozen people. But it is one-to-one counseling sessions that are the forte of the 73-year-old founder.

The charismatic sensei's congregation is largely made up of young adults. They seek the down-to-earth advice of the slender woman with short white hair and a deep tan from tending the vegetable garden, who speaks with the pointed practicality of an aunt. Her speech reflects her roots in Japan mixed with the experiences of living abroad as a Navy wife and past careers as a tailor and a Realtor.

"I think the personal counseling is what makes this temple unique," said Rose. "To me the temple is for sharing, learning, for each individual to understand our self.

"True Buddhism is not only meditation. We do have meditation, but if you sit by yourself, you don't learn anything. Each person needs to be guided to learn about our self, to reflect on our self and to make our self better. Each individual is different in intelligence, in ego, in selfishness.

"Since I don't have children, I'm very close to the members. I scold them like a parent," said Rose. "If you don't want the truth, don't ask me."

"I think the personal counseling is what makes this temple unique. To me the temple is for sharing, learning, for each individual to understand our self."

Jikyu Rose

Bishop of Koganji Temple in Manoa

High school senior Kathryn Kato confirmed that: "She always tells me what I need to hear, not necessarily what I want to hear. I come to her for honesty and insight."

Rose has gained something of a reputation as a seer, discerning illness within people who seek her help. She said she recently suggested to a troubled woman that she had a tubal pregnancy. "I always send people to get medical advice," said Rose, and a doctor's examination bore out her prediction.

She tells about confronting her intuitive skill in an incident when she was a seamstress and tailor in a Moanalua shop more than 30 years ago. A customer who had picked up a wedding gown for a relative was leaving when Rose blurted out a warning that the bride-to-be was going to attempt suicide.

"I shocked myself. I apologized." Two months later, the customer called to tell her that the young woman was hospitalized after taking an overdose. "I felt responsible. I only knew one prayer, and I said, 'Whoever you are, help this girl, help me heal this person.'" She visited the girl in the hospital, and she did recover.

"I don't know why. I don't know where from it comes. I'm thankful I can help people," she said, but it's something she reserves for her own flock.

Her advice to a man who was stressed by changes implemented by new mainland management in the office where he had made his career for many years, was, "'Instead of being angry, analyze the new way and learn from it. It's actually a free lesson you're learning. Life is a learning process.' He listened; he is happy now," she said.

Parents frequently seek her help. "So many parents don't have common sense; they don't know how to raise children," she said. "They suffered without things when they were young and don't want their kids to suffer, so they give them everything.

"It's not surprising that some people are so selfish. If humans get so used to receiving, they don't know how to share. Children need to understand how much their parents suffer and how much they give."

Although surrounded by a core of volunteers who share the office work, housekeeping and yardwork chores, Rose is the only minister at Koganji Temple. The serene compound is truly her domain. She and her husband, Lester Rose, a retired Navy captain, bought the land in 1975 and financed the $2 million construction by selling other property.

After a beginning in counseling people in their former home where she had set up a room as a center for prayers, Rose decided to study Buddhism. She underwent a course of rigorous training at the Tendai center at Mount Hiei in Japan and was ordained in 1973.

The temple was dedicated in 1982 by Tendai Archbishop Yamada Etai, who conferred the title of bishop on Rose four years ago.

The temple is dedicated to the Jizo Bodhisattva, who in Buddhist tradition is the compassionate intermediary between humans and suffering in hell.

Although he was close to achieving enlightenment, he stayed behind to help others reach that state of perfect clarity of mind.

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