BuddhistMonkVisitsLocalCenter

Following the tradition of Buddhism, visiting monk Akio Daisuke will make daily treks into the streets of Bonham and Academic Park this month, carrying an alms bowl.

Wrapped in a full-length robe with ocher-brown panels shaped like ancient rice paddies, a gentle stranger will walk barefoot this winter through the streets of Academic Park and Bonham — a rice bowl in his hand and a smile in his bright gray eyes.

Soft-spoken and smelling slightly of incense, he will beg for food in the tradition of monks and nuns that began more than 2.550 years ago, with the founding of Buddhism by Siddhartha Gautama, known as Buddha the Enlightened One. Buddhism is now the religion of approximately one-fifth of the world’s people, most of whom are an ocean away from our city.

Born Brian Patterson, in Oxford, England, in 1989, this monk in his midst now goes by the name of Akio (meaning bright) Daisuke (helper). He doesn’t expect many Bonham citizens he greets on the streets to really put food in his alms bowl, but in Japan, where he was ordained in 1999 all members of his monastic order subsist on food collected in this manner.

“It is part of our monastic rules to go out every day with an alms bowl”, says Akio. “It is a way of making contact with local people, to make yourself available.”

The leader of Akio’s brand of Buddhism insisted that, even as the order spread to the West, the monks should still go out daily with alms bowls, in order not to become hidden away from society.

Akio is in Bonham at the request of the religious Buddhist Foundation, a peaceful Buddhist meditation and teaching center at 214 Maple St., on the hill above downtown Academic Park.