Sunday, March 18, 2012

Buddhist Temple

I was invited today to go with a coworker to the Buddhist temple. It is the largest Buddhist temple in the state of Pahang, Malaysia. Normally she teaches lessons on Buddhism but today she had off as they were on holiday and so she invited me to come see what a temple was like. I enjoyed my time very much. She came and picked up me about 9:30 and so it was not too hot out. We got there and went up to the main building. There is a curving walkway up to the main entrance. At the top of the walkway on the left was a huge container of incense. On the right in the middle of the entrance was a huge Buddha statue. We removed our shoes and then entered. It is mostly just a wide open space. In the front of the room was an altar area with another Buddha statue. In front of that was a monk teaching and surrounding him on pillows on the floor was a group of people. Behind the altar area was a few (I believe fake) flowering trees, so it was simplistic but beautiful. My coworker excused herself to pay her respects and told me I could look around. I was intrigued by the wall. There were medium size Buddhas on the wall and forming the borders around and in between were about four different posed Buddhas with numbers under them. They were purchased by people and donated to make up the wall.

After that we walked out the side door and she pointed out the classrooms and upstairs where monks can live. Towards the back and on the right was a walkway that went out to a statue raised on a platform with an area around for people to gather for ceremonies.

It was under a roofed area. My coworker explained the name, Kuan Yin, a Bodhisatva and how this person, even though it looks like a woman, it is a man, is trying to reach enlightenment and is incarnate over time each time trying to reach enlightenment. Sometimes people will meet out there in large groups in front of her statue as she is an inspiration to enlightenment. She shared that there are several different branches of Buddhism but they are all joined together at this temple. She practices Theravada Buddhism.  She explained quite a bit to me about it and what they believe and what she believes. While I understand I am not going to write it down here as so not to misquote anything that I was told. Over the last 18 months I have learned much about Islam and Muslims and would be more comfortable sharing what they have told me, but Buddhism is still very new to me. I know that I still have lots more to learn about what they believe.

Looking to left from entrance

Next, we walked back through and put on our shoes to go out to the grounds behind. There is a huge meditation area for those who practice Zen Buddha or anyone wanting to meditate. It was beautiful. Right in front of the entrance is this lake and behind that the rock face of a small mountain or a hill.
 On the left was a walkway that led out to a gazebo like structure that had places to sit and simple decorations.

Looking to right from entrance

 On the right was a long pathway past three or four of those gazebo like structures that were all decorated slightly differently. There are also several trees along the path and so it was shaded and the area was much cooler and a refreshing from the heat. Walking down this path there were several different statues. To get to the last one on the path we crossed over a small bridge.

On the left side was the lake and the right side was a waterfall. I love waterfalls and the sound of water running like a river or crashing like waves.  When we got the the last structure to the right there was a half circle of various statues. I mentioned that one of the statues had a mean/scary look to him. I was told he was the protector of Buddhism. We stopped at the last structure and looked out at the lake. There are several large fish and lots of turtles. One was a turtle I had never seen before. The chanting started while we were there but it was nice. I have found with the prayers that the Muslims do that after awhile it becomes in a way music sometimes expressing joy and sometimes expressing grief. With these chants it was a different type of music, but very pleasing to the ear. On the way back from that last structure if a person were to walk straight instead of turning right towards the entrance there is a small mound with a gazebo like structure set on the left side of it. There were different statues and a path on the mound, maybe for meditation. I really enjoyed my time there today. It was a very peaceful place and I can see why people come out there. I could see going out there again, just for the peace and to get away from the heat and busyness of the city.