Top-Rated Free Essay

Buddhist

Good Essays
RLG101H
Introduction to the Study of Religion
Prof. Ken Derry
TA: Ryan

Culture: Surface of Religion
By: Zain Malik
999738020
Friday, February 15th, 2013
Word Count: 1498 words

Zain Malik: Culture Fo Guanh Shan Temple of Toronto
Naima Nadeem: Power 6525 Millcreek Drive
Manny Kular: Gender February 11th, 2013 – 1:00pm
Figure 1: Picture Taken by Zain Malik - Entrance
Figure [ 1 ]: Picture Taken by Zain Malik - Entrance For my field research report my partners and I visited the largest Chinese Buddhist temple in Mississauga called Fo Guanh Shan Temple of Toronto on February 11th during their festival of the Chinese New Year. Originally this is my first time visiting a Buddhist temple in Canada, but the very first Buddhist temple I visited was at the age of six with my family on a trip to Thailand. During my visit in Toronto, I was really overwhelmed with all the different artefacts and architecture laid throughout the temple, the principles and guidance was outrageously fascinating. As we entered, the individuals working had recognized that we weren’t members of the Buddhist community but still displayed genuine hospitality and guided us around the temple. The culture I witnessed in this religious building really caught my interest, especially the unique artefacts and architecture in which I examined using Raymond Williams and Malory Nye’s theory on elite and popular culture and concluding that the people that interacted with this temple were seeking and describing what it means to reach the peaks of human expression. As well as the way the temple had advertised their culture and religion, in which, I analyzed through Stuart Hall’s theory on popular culture and concluding that business views in this community were definitely present. When we first forward to the entrance I pointed the unique artwork along the white entrance railings. The railings had some sort carvings that appeared to look like dragons, and as we approached to the foyer all I could see were vibrant colours. The lady at the countered enlightened me and explained that architecture on the building of such animals is part of the Chinese culture where animals symbolize characteristics, for example dragons symbolizes prosperity and good fortune. I began to get very curious and anxious to witness many interesting things around this religious building and the lady guided us to our first destination, which was the heart of the temple, the prayer hall. As we approached the doors, an individual that volunteered at the temple had notified us that due to respect to the Buddha everyone must take their shoes off before entering and that absolutely no pictures are allowed. Once I entered the very first that that captured my eyes was the artwork done along the walls of the prayer hall. At the front were three lively sculptures of Buddha for which the people pray towards. I took great interest in the architecture and one of the volunteer that was accepting offerings given from individuals had educated me about the artwork along the walls. In fact, the artwork in the eyes of the Buddhist community is more like a family portrait. In other words, along the walls there was a particular photo and below the photo there was a name written in Chinese, these were all ancestors of the Buddhist religion. What really amazed me is how they had presented their ancestors in such a beautiful and respectable way. The next stop was at the Buddha’s Cultural Figure 2: Picture Taken by Zain Malik - Buddha 's Cultural Museum
Figure [ 2 ]: Picture Taken by Zain Malik - Buddha 's Cultural Museum
Museum where many different artefacts, sculptures, and other pieces of art related to Buddhist culture were present. As I walked along the museum each piece of art had been given a cue card that had information on it. The key information was the material used to create such art, the material that was commonly used were: cooper, wood, bronze, ceramic, and clay. What leaves a question mark is that do these materials play a symbolic role in the culture that was present in certain Buddhist eras. I came across a sculpture of a huge elephant, which had been stated that it symbolizes power, commitment and action. A lady working at this section of the temple had informed me that in the Chinese Buddhist culture one gifts this art piece in situations of victory (war, sports, marriage, etc.). Also, the lady had polished my knowledge and explained that each piece of art could Figure 3: Picture Taken by Zain Malik - Sculpture1
Figure 3: Picture Taken by Zain Malik - Sculpture1 have multiple Figure 3: Picture Taken by Zain Malik - Sculpture2
Figure 3: Picture Taken by Zain Malik - Sculpture2 meanings, as in the sense of the temple it was placed to dignify the religious place. The presence of different sculptures and artefacts is way of the Buddhist culture to express human expressions. The art itself expresses the creativity on the individual or persons creating it, in other words the visual representation of their culture. As one of the members of the temple had told me that the techniques used in their architecture has been part of their culture for ages and has been passed down by their ancestors. Also, through architecture, one can express the culture’s environment, the association of people or dynamics of human interaction, customs, habitats, and as well as the relationships between all these aspects. Examining this portion of Buddhist culture at the temple referring back to Williams and Nye’s theory on elite and popular culture was very amusing. The focus on this essay is regarding chapter 2 in Malory Nye’s text, Religion: The Basics. In this chapter Nye makes emphasis on culture in correlation to religion (Nye 2008, 23). He had stated that culture is something that is done and is what people do (Nye 2008, 23). Williams had interpreted culture in the senses of engaging it and possessing it. In further contrast, one of his main arguments was that culture is an ideal or elite (Nye 2008, 24). In other words, elite culture revolves around high quality and artistic worth products. These products are could be an example of the Holy Bible that the Christians consider a spiritual text or, as Nye would say a piece of high culture (Nye 2008, 25). But Williams made an excellent and intriguing point that culture is beyond the ideal and elite stage, in fact it has approached the documentary level (Nye 2008, 25). In this level culture is viewed through forms such as: film, television, sport, science, geography, and even architecture. As I observed throughout the day at the temple, I seemed to gather a thought that architecture is the popular form of culture used in this Buddhist community. There methods and ways may be different but as Williams stated, its not about which artist is better, its about which artist produced cultural work (Nye 2008, 28). It is self-explanatory that these people have expressed cultural work in a magnificent manor. At the temple, the Buddhist people influence and enforce a lot of discipline. The elderly to the youth of the Buddhist community teaches such aspects. As I entered the bookstore held inside of the temple a lady had explained to me the different materialistic items that elderly reward kids for remarkable religious efforts, for example bracelets, clothes, etc. Also, I was escorted to attend the library where a collection of religious material was held, there an individual had assisted me and told me that the famous religious Buddhist text is called the Sutra. What makes this text different than other religious text like the Bible is that Sutra is not a single book. The Sutra is a large collection of books and teachings that were transcribed by Buddha. These materials have been duplicated and are for purchase in the bookstore, as well as other religious items like religious beads for prayers. Many things were for sale in the book store such as music which played stories in musical form of the Buddhist religion, ornaments, history books on the religion, beads, necklaces, bracelets, and much more. This leads to my analysis using Stuart Halls theory on culture, the business of culture. Stuart Hall had emphasized his interest on how to interpret popular culture, and the point that I am going to focus on is mass appeal and the business of culture (Nye 2008, 29). The standard points to note is that for one to be popular it must be on some scale have mass appeal. The problem to this theory is that in order to obtain mass appeal consumer commercialism is extremely crucial (Nye 2008, 30). This is why religions advertise their products such as books, religious items, history, etc. (Nye 2008, 30). Therefore, interpreting Halls theory into the circumstances at the temple, it seems that the bookstore is way for people to promote their culture and increase mass appeal because nothing was listed as free. During this research assignment, there was a lot of difficulty communicating with the people in the temple, as their first language was Mandarin. In situations for example where I couldn’t understand a single word that they were saying. I felt like if I knew the language they spoke or had a partner who spoke their language I could have gathered much more valuable pieces of information to make my essay even stronger than what it is. Overall my experience at the Chinese Buddhist temple was phenomenal with some exceptions. The people were very humble and friendly to assist us throughout this experience that I am thankful for. The knowledge I absorbed opened my eyes about Buddhism and religion itself with the help of Malory Nye’s text, Religion: The Basics in which Williams and Hall’s theories facilitated my analysis in the cultural aspects of religion.

Bibliography
Nye, Malory. 2008. Religion: The Basics, 2nd edition. London and New York: Routledge.

Essay Grading Rubric Grade | A: Excellent | B: Good | C: Adequate | D: Marginal | F: Inadequate | Response to Task | Contains all required elements and sections; no errors in formatting; completes assignment exactly as required. | Contains most required elements and sections; few errors in formatting; completes assignment almost as required. | Contains some required elements and sections; some errors in formatting; completes assignment generally as required. | Contains few required elements and sections; many errors in formatting; significant parts of assignment incomplete or inappropriate. | Does not address question or task; fundamental errors in formatting; wholly mis-understands assignment. | Analysis | Insightful, original analysis; excellent use/understanding of theory; essay fully controlled by precise, well-defined thesis. | Strong analysis that frequently goes beyond obvious or surface meanings; good use/ understanding of theory; thesis appropriate and central to the essay, but may lack some precision. | Simple analysis that at times goes beyond obvious or surface meanings; use/ understanding of theory adequate in most sections, but missing and/or incorrect in others; general thesis or controlling idea is evident, but some key elements may not be clearly stated. | Very little analysis; some use of theory, but insufficient and/or incorrect in several ways; thesis is vague or not central to essay. | No analysis; use of theory absent or wholly incorrect; no discernible thesis. | Support/
Argument | Fully supports all arguments with relevant evidence and well-developed, persuasive reasoning. | Supports most arguments with relevant evidence and clear, consistent reasoning. | Supports most arguments with limited, but adequate evidence and reasoning; essay contains too much description; some arguments unclear and/or unsupported. | Provides insufficient/ irrelevant evidence and/or poor reasoning to support several key arguments;essay tends towards description or subjective opinion, rather than argumentation. | Fails entirely to support arguments with evidence or reasoning, and/or misrepresents evidence used to support arguments;essay consists almost entirely of description or subjective opinion. | Organization/Coherence | Paper has excellent structure, logical flow and organization; all body paragraphs have a clear focus and are coherent; parts integrated with and support whole. | Paper has good structure and is generally well organized; most body paragraphs have a clear focus and are coherent; parts mostly integrated with whole. | Paper has a weak, but present structure (some parts need better organization); some body paragraphs have a clear focus or topic; parts lack balance or stray from general structure. | Much of the paper is disorganized and/or incoherent; many body paragraphs lack focus; insufficient or inappropriate transitions to create a sense of structure. | Paper has no obvious structure (significant problems with organization throughout); most body paragraphs have no clear focus; paper is highly fragmented. | Writing and Presentation | Writing is eloquent and clear; very few errors that compromise understanding; absence of biased or colloquial language; excellent diction and sentence structure; excellent mechanics and punctuation; no errors in source documentation. | Writing is clear; minor errors that do not seriously impede understanding; a few examples of biased or colloquial language; good diction and sentence structure; good mechanics and punctuation; few errors in source documentation. | Writing is competent; some errors but paper is generally understandable; some biased or colloquial language; some problems with diction or sentence structure; acceptable mechanics and punctuation, but some errors in places; some errors in source documentation. | Writing is not quite competent; major errors or numerous minor ones that impede understanding in places; many examples of biased or colloquial language; many problems with diction and sentence structure; poor mechanics and punctuation; many errors in source documentation. | Unacceptable writing; significant errors make parts of paper very difficult to understand; frequent use of inappropriate language; serious problems with diction and sentence structure; significant problems with mechanics and punctuation; fundamental errors in source documentation. |

Bibliography: Nye, Malory. 2008. Religion: The Basics, 2nd edition. London and New York: Routledge. Essay Grading Rubric Grade | A: Excellent | B: Good | C: Adequate | D: Marginal | F: Inadequate | Response to Task | Contains all required elements and sections; no errors in formatting; completes assignment exactly as required. | Contains most required elements and sections; few errors in formatting; completes assignment almost as required. | Contains some required elements and sections; some errors in formatting; completes assignment generally as required. | Contains few required elements and sections; many errors in formatting; significant parts of assignment incomplete or inappropriate. | Does not address question or task; fundamental errors in formatting; wholly mis-understands assignment. | Analysis | Insightful, original analysis; excellent use/understanding of theory; essay fully controlled by precise, well-defined thesis. | Strong analysis that frequently goes beyond obvious or surface meanings; good use/ understanding of theory; thesis appropriate and central to the essay, but may lack some precision. | Simple analysis that at times goes beyond obvious or surface meanings; use/ understanding of theory adequate in most sections, but missing and/or incorrect in others; general thesis or controlling idea is evident, but some key elements may not be clearly stated. | Very little analysis; some use of theory, but insufficient and/or incorrect in several ways; thesis is vague or not central to essay. | No analysis; use of theory absent or wholly incorrect; no discernible thesis. | Support/ Argument | Fully supports all arguments with relevant evidence and well-developed, persuasive reasoning. | Supports most arguments with relevant evidence and clear, consistent reasoning. | Supports most arguments with limited, but adequate evidence and reasoning; essay contains too much description; some arguments unclear and/or unsupported. | Provides insufficient/ irrelevant evidence and/or poor reasoning to support several key arguments;essay tends towards description or subjective opinion, rather than argumentation. | Fails entirely to support arguments with evidence or reasoning, and/or misrepresents evidence used to support arguments;essay consists almost entirely of description or subjective opinion. | Organization/Coherence | Paper has excellent structure, logical flow and organization; all body paragraphs have a clear focus and are coherent; parts integrated with and support whole. | Paper has good structure and is generally well organized; most body paragraphs have a clear focus and are coherent; parts mostly integrated with whole. | Paper has a weak, but present structure (some parts need better organization); some body paragraphs have a clear focus or topic; parts lack balance or stray from general structure. | Much of the paper is disorganized and/or incoherent; many body paragraphs lack focus; insufficient or inappropriate transitions to create a sense of structure. | Paper has no obvious structure (significant problems with organization throughout); most body paragraphs have no clear focus; paper is highly fragmented. | Writing and Presentation | Writing is eloquent and clear; very few errors that compromise understanding; absence of biased or colloquial language; excellent diction and sentence structure; excellent mechanics and punctuation; no errors in source documentation. | Writing is clear; minor errors that do not seriously impede understanding; a few examples of biased or colloquial language; good diction and sentence structure; good mechanics and punctuation; few errors in source documentation. | Writing is competent; some errors but paper is generally understandable; some biased or colloquial language; some problems with diction or sentence structure; acceptable mechanics and punctuation, but some errors in places; some errors in source documentation. | Writing is not quite competent; major errors or numerous minor ones that impede understanding in places; many examples of biased or colloquial language; many problems with diction and sentence structure; poor mechanics and punctuation; many errors in source documentation. | Unacceptable writing; significant errors make parts of paper very difficult to understand; frequent use of inappropriate language; serious problems with diction and sentence structure; significant problems with mechanics and punctuation; fundamental errors in source documentation. |

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful