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Field Notes: REL 140g Visits Zen Temple in Little Tokyo

Students from REL 140g, a course focusing on social issues in the religions of Los Angeles and taught by Professors Don Miller and Duncan Williams, took a field trip to Zenshuji Soto Zen Temple in Little Tokyo on February 7th.  The 100 students in the course have been researching religious institutions in Los Angeles, the world’s most religious pluralistic city, both in small groups and as a class.  

Zenshuji Temple is the oldest Zen Buddhist temple in North America and has a history of nearly a century in Los Angeles.  Students learned about the basic teachings and practices of Buddhism and had an opportunity to practice meditation after a tour of the facilities by the Bishop of Soto Zen Buddhism in North America, Daigaku Rumme, and the long-serving Zenshuji Temple priest, Shumyo Kojima. 

Larissa Purnell, a first-year in the Marshall School of Business, is  enrolled in REL 140g and joined the field trip on Feb. 7. When asked what she found most interesting about the trip, she mentioned the meditation session. “It was interesting to experience a few minutes of tranquility and to be somewhat separated from everything around me,” she said. “It was probably one of the most peaceful moments I have experienced thus far in my life because living such a busy lifestyle hinders me from taking the time to practice similar forms of meditation on my own.”



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