12-14-04 Tallahassee BPF
Here in Tallahassee we are just a bunch of Jizo-making fools!
I got interested in the Jizos for Peace project in the summer of 2004. We had recently started a chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship here in Tallahassee and I was looking for ways to be active in that. I was also looking for ways to understand parenting from a dharmic perspective and my son was about to start kindergarten. I saw an ad for JFP in Turning Wheel (the BPF publication), looked into it, and thought that it would be a great project to take into my son's school. I ordered some Jizo stamps from Oregon and went out and bought some supplies and started working on my own panel. I told my friends in BPF about the project and they all thought it was a good idea.
Since that time we've held panel-making sessions for the community at Lotus Lake Buddhist Community, Cypress Tree Zen Group, Family Dharma Day, Cornerstone Learning Community (my son's school), Grassroots Free School, and Alumni Village (graduate student housing at Florida State University). All in all we've created 178 panels and drawn/stamped 5,342 images of Jizo.
This project is so accessible to everyone. The focus has been on peace and on doing something lovely for someone else, and people just lose themselves in decorating the panels--it's truly meditative in that sense. For adults there is a dimension of remembering the war and of the terrible devastation and loss--and of these awful bombs. For kids I've worked with, especially the little ones, I don't go into the war and the bombings in detail. I tell them there was a war and that people were hurt, and that the panels are a way to make hurt and sad people feel better. Kids are wonderful--All beginner's mind! I asked one five-year old girl what message she wanted to write on her panel, and she said, without a moment of hesitation, in the most matter-of-fact way: "Peace is great and silent."