The Dharma Propagation Team visited and made offerings at the 100 foot high New England Peace Pagoda located near Leverett, Massachusetts, the first Nipponzan-Myōhōji Peace Pagoda to be constructed in the US. It was completed in 1986 and sits 53 miles east of the Grafton pagoda. Like the Grafton Peace Pagoda, it was built with volunteer labor of many faiths, races, and cultures.
Rev. Mamoru Kato (Kato Shonin-san) is the head monk at the small monastery that tends the shrine. The New England Peace Pagoda has sculptures depicting various aspects of the Buddha’s life located in the four alcoves on the sides of the pagoda.
The first Nipponzan Myohoji Temple located at the pagoda mysteriously burned to the ground in November 1987 shortly after it was completed. Only the entrance remains in the gardens near the pagoda. The new temple, designed by New York Architect Shigehiro Shishido, was inspired by the Ajanta Caves of Maharashtra, India. The design is an attempt to realize an original Buddhist architectural concept, which originated in India between the first and seventh centuries. It is very similar to the temple at Kushinagara, India, the site of the Buddha’s parinirvana. The team was able to meet both Rev. Kato and the architect. Classical Japanese gardens complete with a koi pond and a stone garden are also part of this peaceful setting.
While Zhaxi Zhuoma was sitting in the garden next to the New England Peace Pagoda, a small chipmunk came up and offered her a mouthful of black berries. The tiny creature did a brief prostration and then left. He moved to the rock behind the rinpoche and stayed there for a long time, joining her in her meditation.