Odd Fellows Lodge hosts ongoing Buddhist fellowship
By Shin Yu Pai
On the second floor of the historic Odd Fellows Lodge in downtown Ballard, an intimate Buddhist service takes place on the third Sunday of every month. Led by Reverend Kanjin Cederman, an ordained Buddhist priest in the Nichiren Shu tradition, the monthly rite attracts a small group of regulars drawn from the membership of the Odd Fellows Lodge, as well as a handful of local Ballardites.
The service focuses around a small altar that displays a painted scroll inscribed with a mandala of the Nichiren Shu lineage. Founded by Nichiren Shonin, a 13th-century Buddhist monk, the Nichiren Shu tradition focuses on the Lotus Sutra, one of the most sacred scriptures of Buddhism.
Cederman convenes and leads the 10-part ritual which includes meditative periods, interspersed with ceremonial chant drawn from sections of the Lotus Sutra. Proponents of the Nichiren Shu faith believe that through mantra, the practitioner arrives at finding his or her own true voice within a larger interdependent chorus, or web. Cederman brings variety to his Sunday services by offering an open forum for discussion. He also provides instruction in yogic movement which congregants perform while chanting.
Cederman, who lives in Seattle, has been involved with fraternities since a young age and is a long-standing member of the Odd Fellows. Since 2010, he has served as head minister of Choeizan Enkyoji, a Nichiren Shu temple located in the International District. Interested in creating an interfaith space for Ballard residents, Cederman started offering Sunday services at the Lodge nearly a year ago. “The mission of the Odd Fellows and their commitment to friendship, love, and truth, is very much in harmony with the goals of the Nichiren Shu faith and its understanding of one’s own humanity,” said Cederman.
Gabriel “Eisho” Rosman attends the Nichiren Shu service in Ballard on a regular basis and has been a practicing Buddhist since 2012. Eisho first encountered Nichiren Shu at the Choiezan Enkyoji temple and was drawn to the diversity of people in the Buddhist sangha.
“I felt very much at home. Chanting the mantra during service brought me peace,” said Eisho.
Under Cederman’s guidance, Eisho is currently training to become a lay leader - a community member who assists the head priest. “Training has instilled a sense of accountability in my daily life.”
The responsibility of leading Sunday service will eventually transition from Cederman to his disciple.
While Cederman hopes his Sunday service will appeal to both old and new Ballard residents, he notes a particular interest in creating an opportunity for young people to explore their values through gathering together. “Many young people today suffer from social anxiety and have limited opportunities to interact face-to-face in highly technological work environments,” said Cederman.
Cederman also hopes to attract individuals from the creative professions with nontraditional schedules and perspectives, to whom Nichiren Shu may have particular appeal. Interested in the central question of “what is it to be American,” Cederman touches upon gender equality, individual humanity, and the power beyond speech in his service, to reach beyond communication to action.
For more information on the monthly Buddhist service hosted at the Odd Fellows Lodge, email Kanjin Cederman at firstname.lastname@example.org.