This week, I went with Tricycle‘s editor and publisher, James Shaheen, to talk to Her Holiness Shinso Ito, the head priest of Shinnyo-en, a Japanese lay Buddhist movement whose global membership numbers about one million. Shinso Ito is the first female priest in her Shingon lineage, from which Shinnyo-en emerged, and has twice presided over ceremonies in the thousand-year-old Daigoji Temple, the oldest building in Kyoto.

She is pictured below presenting a statue* made by her father, Shinjo Ito, the founder of Shinnyo-en, to New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Her Holiness and Hizzoner were speakers at the 2010 National Conference on Volunteering and Service that took place in New York this week.

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We spoke with Her Holiness for more than half an hour about topics ranging from the practices of Shnnyo-en to the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, getting young people interested in Buddhism, and the message of universal Buddhahood in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra.

The interview was recorded and we hope to present it in an upcoming issue of Tricycle!

Read our previous post about Shinnyo-en.

[Image courtesy Shinnyo-en]

*The statue Shinso Ito presented to Mayor Bloomberg, is a small version of a life-size statue which will be brought to New York City for public display when a location is confirmed, according to Shinnyo-en. The statue depicts Prince Shotoku and symbolizes a universal wish for peace. Master Shinjo Ito, the founder of Shinnyo-en, cast the statue in 1967.

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