Hsi Lai TemplePersonal PerspectiveWhen this paper was first assigned tous I didn’t have any clue as to which Asian American religion was worthdoing research on. As timed passed and more thought was given to the projectI finally decided to go with Buddhism. The reason why I choose Buddhismas my topic is to allow me to relate more closely to the friends and familymembers who are Buddhist.
In my family most of them are strong believersin Buddhism. As a child I never really understood the things thatwent on during time of prayer at my house in Taiwan. This is themain reason why I choose this particular religion to do my study on.Hopefully by the end on this paper I will be able to relate to my familybetter.Through out my life I have visited manyBuddhist temples. As I walk through the temple I remember becomingvery interested in the what happens within these walls. I was neverthe religious type.
Therefore I have no preference as to what religionI should be. Because of this my relationship with my family on areligious aspect has drifted wider and wider apart. This is why Ichoose the Buddhist religion , hoping to closing the gap which exist betweenme and the rest of the family on a religious aspect.IntroductionThis study which is being conducted ispurely a observational study.
This study was done at the Hsi LaiTemple located in Hacienda Heights. This temple is the Los Angelesbranch, the original is located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan ( Fo Guang Shan ).The Hsi Lai temple is about 102,432 sq. ft. The name Hsi Lai whentranslated means “coming to the west”. This temple signifies thededication of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order to spread the teachingsof the Buddha to those in the west. It also serves as a bridge ofcultural exchange between the east and the west.
In order for this study to be successfula lot of time was spent at the temple. It was about a little pastnoon on a Saturday when the study took place. It was pretty crowdedaround this time of day. There were a lot of activities going onhere. There were people praying, there were those who took in thescenery within the temple walls, and than there were also those came tostudy.
Many visitors visits these premises every day. It placeis also an tourist spot for those who have just came from Taiwan.The reason why so many people come by is because they are interested inhow a western temple would look like. Hsi Lai temple compared to its parentmonastery in Taiwan is much smaller.Many of the monks who resides there arefrom Taiwan.
They came for the purpose of taking care of the temple.Each individual has their own daily chores. Some are in charge ofgiving tours to the visitors that comes here and others are either in chargeof keeping the grounds of the temple clean or assisting those who are lostwithin the temple.ObjectiveThere exist four objectives within theHsi Lai Temple. The first of the four is that it wants to expandits skills and talents through education.
The second is that theywant to foster an awareness of Buddhism through its cultural activities.The third is to benefit society through charitable events. Lastlyit wants to cultivate the human mind through Dharma practices. These arethe four major objectives which the temple focuses on.Physical DescriptionThe Hsi Lai Temple was built accordingto the architecture of the Ming and Ching dynasty. It took aboutten years for the completion of this temple (1988). The initial conceptof building the temple started in 1978.
It took six public hearingsand over a hundred community meetings to clear its proposal of buildingthe temple. The actual planning of the temple took place on August22, 1984 and the actual construction of the temple was on July 28, 1986.The Hsi Lai Temple was built to serve as a multifunction internationalBuddhist center. This center consist on a main shrine, meditationhall, lecture hall, a Dharma hall, Tripitaka hall, a library, lodging fortraveling monks and nuns, an international conference center, twenty classrooms,two gardens, a memorial hall, a cultural exhibition room, a school forChinese arts and culture, a dining hall, and living quarters for monksand nuns.The first thing to be seen upon enteringthe temple is the large gateway with Chinese characters inscribed intoit. Then after the gateway at the top of the stairs is the BodhisattvaHall. After the hall at the other end there is a big courtyard.
This courtyard is used for the purpose of walking meditation. Atthe opposite end of the courtyard is the main shrine. There are otherfacilities running along both sides of the courtyard. If one wasto observe closely you will notice that the shape of the temple land islike the leaf of the Bodhi Tree in India.SocialThe social aspect of the temple is oneof the most important thing to the temple.
The reason is that becausethey depend so much on people who goes there that they are really concernwith their social outlook. The temple organizes many social events throughout the course of the year. Many of these events welcome the participationof others. There also seems to be a sense of unity here at the temple.
The people here seems to interact as a family unite. The interactionbetween the monks here at the temple and the people that come there islike a father and son relationship. The monks are there to give advice,support, and guidance to these faithful just like a father to his son.Even though it is an older crowd that come to these temples, there amongthe elders still exist this type of father and son relationship.On Saturday prayer services are held andmany faithful would gather and chants along with the priest. Afterthe services many finds themselves in the cafeteria to get lunch.
Even though the services are over and people had their lunch most stickaround to part take in one of the many lectures / workshops that goes onin the classrooms. The purpose of these lectures and workshops is designedas a way to pass on the teachings of Buddhism to the younger crowd or tothose that are interested in it. These weekly lectures and special workshopsare conducted in Chinese, English, and Cantonese. Besides the lectureand workshops the Hsi Lai Temple offers guides for groups of 15 peopleor more.
People are often greeted at the main entranceof the temple to make them feel more comfortable. Most of the peoplewho come here are usually casually dressed. Some would wear shirtand tie but most wear whatever they are more comfortable in. Thetemple is a great location to meet people from many different backgroundand origin.ConclusionEven though the time spent at Hsi LaiTemple wasn’t enough to get the true essence out of the place I was stillamazed by how well organized it was. The planning of the temple waswell thought out before the construction of the place and the great structuresof the buildings was very impressive.
I was especially impressedby how traditional the place was build. The traditional style ofthe building gives the area and the people more of a sense of belonging.Just the structure alone brings a lot ofthe east to the west. The main purpose of this place is to bringand introduce the teachings of Buddha to the west. So far it hasdone just that. The Hsi Lai Temple is the largest temple inthe U.
S. most Buddhist come to this particular location to carry on theirpractices in the west.This place in not just at place of worshipbut it is also the meeting grounds of those who shares the same religion.Many activities and events are carried out to spread the teachings of Buddha.They have charities to help the poor and function where they get to meetpeople.
After having done the study I came to realize that Buddhismis a family religion. The reason is because I have notice that withinthe temple everyone function as one. They are a very family orientedreligion. Everything that are done are done in groups. Wherethey work with each other to accomplish a certain task.