It's time for hearts to unite on the sacred grounds of Lawai International Center.
This verdant valley and hillside is one of the most highly acclaimed spiritual energy centers of the modern world. And, while a variety of practitioners (Hawaiian, Buddhist, Hindu and New Age) have benefited from its unique essence over the millenium, 88 Shrines at Lawai International Center has been carefully tended and nurtured so it can greet modern-day pilgrims from far and wide with its own special magic and healing.
The 11th annual Pilgrimage of Compassion to be held this year from 3 to 5 p.m., Sunday August 7, with gates open at 1:30 p.m., celebrates a timeless spiritual vision in a valley long recognized as a healing sanctuary.
On lovingly tended grounds in Lawai Valley, among 88 historic shrines, world-renowned shakuhachi (Japanese flute) Grand Master Riley Lee - the first non-Japanese to attain the rank of shakuhachi Grand Master will issue a call to the pilgrims of the world. Carried by the wind through the trees, the soothing sounds of Lee's shakuhachi are the voice of Lawai International Center.
Built in 1904 by the first generation of Japanese immigrants, the shrines are one of the oldest Buddhist temple sites in the country, replicating the ancient pilgrimage of 88 temples in Shikoku, Japan.
In celebrating this legacy, the annual Pilgrimage adds local treasures to the archaeological and historic wonders: chanting by the rarely seen children of Niihau and the dynamic drumbeats of Taiko Kaua`i.
Riley Lee's Grand Master designation did not come easily. He attained the rank 30 years ago after rigorous training that included practicing barefoot in the snow, blowing his flute while standing under a waterfall, and playing in blizzards until icicles formed at the tip of his flute.
The recipient of a 2009 Na Hoku Hanohano award, he remains one of the few such masters outside of Japan. He has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, including at the Sydney Opera House and Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and has released more than 50 recordings on international labels.
Hawaii elders have described Kaua`i as the crown of the archipelago, anchored to the south by Lawai Valley. Those seeking healing have come to Lawai for centuries.
Drawn by its healing energy, the ancient Hawaiians walked there from far reaches of the island. The Asian immigrants followed, and they too, built their temples: a Taoist temple, a Shinto shrine and Shingon Buddhist temple. Today this site is all that tangibly remains of this legacy.
The photos at right and above are actual, un-retouched photos taken by pilgrimage participants. The enigma at right occurred when the photographer placed her camera inside of one of the shrines. Although not visible to the human eye, spirits and energy often manifest on film, as these examples demonstrate. There have been numerous occassions of energy spikes or illuminations occurring in photos taken during events at the 88 Shrines.
Lawai International Center is a non-profit community project driven by its volunteers, whose earnest efforts are bringing the valley back to prominence as an international center of compassion, education, and cultural understanding.
A journey to this site will reveal the thread that unites the Hawaiians, the immigrants, and a dedicated community of modern residents. In the folds of this wondrous valley shines a healing and cultural center for all pilgrims of the world—a beacon of aloha and compassion when the world needs it most.
Please bring an umbrella and wear comfortable shoes for this hillside walk. And if possible, please car pool and arrive early to facilitate parking. The gates open at 1:30 p.m. with booths and exhibits open and the program starts at 3:00 p.m.
Donations will be accepted with gratitude. There will be a bake sale, silent auction, bonsai exhibits, and mochi pounding demonstrations. For more information contact LM@hawaii.rr.com , call 639-3197 or visit www.lawaicenter.org.