Buddhism At The Gate Of The Fo Guang Shan Hsi Fang
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It was a rather casual Wednesday morning when I arrived at the gate of the Fo Guang Shan Hsi Fang Temple. As the dews drip from the tall bush of grass in front of the red gate, I rang the bell to ask for permission to enter the sacred Buddhist Temple. A female monk named Miaozang slowly opens the door to let me and a fellow student in. Having been born and raised in Vietnam, which is predominantly a Buddhist influenced country, yet grew up in the States in a Catholic high school, I did not strongly identify with any particular religion. Thus, I took this opportunity to learn more about Buddhism by interviewing the monk and took part in a guided meditation session. Each small details from the moment I entered such as the sense of the incense, the lion statues, the mild background chanting, and so on are intentionally set up to make sure that I, the visitor, can have the most wholesome Buddhist experience while being inside the temple. Buddhism, through its teachings, which are called Buddha Dharma, and other rituals such as meditations and chanting, strives to set up an environment that helps its practitioners reach the state of enlightenment, where one can see the reality of the world and the truth behind everything.
Hsi Fang Temple is a two-story building in the town of University Heights, located on Park Street. From the outside, it is a minimalistic building with white walls on all sides. In the front, just above the entrance arc, there is an artifact in the shape of a