I have always been fascinated with other religions, how people explain the events around them and how they get the courage to continue trough each day. This is primarily why I chose to visit a Buddhist temple and describe my experience for the Cultural report. I went alone to the Fo Guang Shan Hsi Fang Temple in on Saturday th at approximately. I went to observe a meditation and learn as much as I could about the religion. BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Buddhism began in the sixth century BC with the birth of Siddharta Gautama the known Buddha in what in now known as Nepal. After living in luxury with his father for some time, he renounced his former life and began to live without any worldly pleasures, but found that to be meanignless and moved to living a life of complete moderation. After reaching enlightenment he taught a wide range of people throughout Asia (Wikipedia April 2007). Buddhism now has spread throughout the world in countries including the United States, Australia, Russia, and some of Europe. (BBC, 2006)
Buddhist teachings (Dharma) center around the 4 noble truths and the Eightfold path and the three marks of existence, which are the way to enlightenment. The 4 noble truths are: 1.All existence is unsatisfactory and filled with suffering. 2.The root of suffering can be defined as a craving or clinging to the wrong things; searching to find stability in a shifting world is the wrong way. 3.It is possible to find an end to suffering.
4.The Noble Eightfold path, which is Right View, Right intention, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right concentration. (BBC, 2006) These basic teachings and through meditation are the core of Buddhism. Meditation is important for someone to reach an understanding of what is happening within yourself instead of having your thoughts being pulled out into the world around you. In the basic sitting meditation one sits on the floor and concentrates on the movements of the abdomen while breathing. You contemplate on the stomach rising and falling with each breath. During this concentration you try to block all other ideas out of your head and try to concentrate on yourself. The key always is to focus on what is happening to you and not around you. There are more meditations that expand on this one, and more advanced techniques while walking and standing. (BuddhaNET, 2001) OBSERVATION
The Fo Guang Shan His Fang Temple in San Diego is a three-story temple with the meditation room on the second story. The patrons all sit on rows of cushions and you leave your shoes downstairs before climbing. I got there a little early so I was able to take the pictures of the stage. As everyone came in they all sat wherever they wanted and I found that most people came alone. There weren't too many families there, and I only saw one child running around. There were some Caucasian people there but most were Asian. This temple teaches in the western practice of Buddhism, which fits the name "Hsi Fang" which translated means "Western or West Place". I sat in the back and watched as the Dharma teacher explain or "preach" the teachings on the Buddha. They were all put into stories or parables for us to easily understand. The teachings were close to something you might hear at any other church. At least that was how I found it. When the teachings were over we were allowed to meditate and then another short lecture and a final meditation. Participation
I didn't know how to meditate except for what I had read, so I asked one of the "helpers" that were there on what I should do. I mentioned that I read on a meditation technique, and she proceeded to help me with that one. She told me to sit down cross-legged and close my eyes. She then told me to concentrate on my stomach growing and shrinking with each breath. She explained further to not focus on the breathing, just the growing and shrinking of the stomach....