Unlocking the Secrets of Esoteric Buddhism

Margaret Shiba
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

On Feb. 25, the Rev. Clark Watanabe was installed as the 13th bishop of the statewide Köyasan Shingon Mission of Hawaii in a ceremony at Honomu Henjöji Mission on Hawai‘i island. The unlikely path that led the local boy to this milestone began nearly 40 years earlier in the book department of the old Liberty House department store at Ala Moana Center, when 13-year old Clark Watanabe happened upon a large, richly illustrated volume titled, “The Secret Message of Tantric Buddhism.” The boy was intrigued by the esoteric Buddhist art. Most of all, however, he was mesmerized by the idea of unlocking secrets known to few people. He saved up his allowance and purchased the book to study it further.

Thirteen years later, the curious young man entered seminary on Köyasan. After a year of intensive training, he was ordained a Shingon Buddhist priest. And 21 years after being ordained, Rev. Clark Watanabe was elevated to bishop in Hawai‘i.

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