August 20, 2011
World Religion Report – Buddhism
Buddhism originated in the early Fifth century BCE, from the teachings of Siddhartha Buddha (Fisher, 2005). Plagued by the desire to help end human suffering, Buddha reached a state of pure enlightenment showing him the way to end earthly suffering. Through meditation, people can control the desires of their human nature. By gaining control of our desires we can end our suffering. He taught his wisdom to all that wanted to learn. After his death, three main forms of Buddhism emerged; there was the Theravada’s, the Mahayana’s, and the Zen Buddhists (Fisher, 2005). For the sake of this report, the local Buddhist center practices the New Kadampa Traditions. As stated in the center’s brochure, “Kadampa Buddhism is a special tradition of Mahayana Buddhism founded by Atisha, an Indian Buddhist Master largely responsible for the reintroduction of Buddhism into Tibet in the eleventh century” (NKT-IKBU, 2008, p.1). They formed their own branch to separate from the political issues that plagued the Tibetan Buddhist (NKT-IKBU, 2008, p.5). The NKT Buddhist believes the same central beliefs of wisdom, compassion, and the path to enlightenment. The Clear Light Buddhist Center is a welcoming place for all who wish to learn or practice Buddhism. The center is supported by Kelsang Chandra and led by Kadam Michelle Gauthier. The interview was conducted with Kelsang Chandra, an ordained Buddhist nun, along with other members of the Center who wanted to share their viewpoints. Having been raised in a Christian home, Buddhism was always a forbidden topic. It was implied to be atheistic way of life, yet Buddhism has always been of great interest to me.
Clear Light Buddhist Center
The Clear Light Buddhist Center is in the north part of central Phoenix, Arizona. At the center they practice the New Kadampa Tradition and are a registered nonprofit religious corporation. The center is nestled in a lower income residential neighborhood. The staff keeps it well maintained, both inside and outside. The center is not a fancy or ornate temple; it appears it was once another type of church that has been remodeled. As people enter the building, they are greeted by a receptionist who is a member of the temple. This person makes sure that people sign-in and collects their fees for class attendees. They also hand out the centers monthly calendars and brochures about the center. A bookstore and gift shop is located to the left of the entrance. There are many items available to purchase, including many of the books written by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, founder of the New Kadampa Traditions and International Kadampa Buddhist Union. To the right of the greeting area is the meditation center. This is the area in which all the classes, services, meditations, and workshops are held. Before entering this room, attendees must remove their shoes and place them in a box by the door. This area is a large room with chairs in the back and a few meditation mats toward the front of the sitting area. At the front of the room, there is a long set of tables with shrines, alters, and offerings to the different Buddhist deities and to Buddha himself. Then there is a raised meditation seat for their resident teacher, Kadam Michelle Gauthier, to use while giving lessons or leading meditations. The center offers workshops for different levels of Buddhists; they have an Introduction workshop as well as others like Overcoming Anger. They have regular meditation or prayer times for all different topics, such as Prayers for World Peace. Down a hallway by the bookstore, there is a lounge area. This is used for a gathering and sharing time after classes and meditation times. Further down the hallway are the administrative offices. Only staff of the center is permitted in there. The center has a nice building, very inviting atmosphere, and very clean....