I recently visited the Denver Buddhist Temple in Denver, Colorado, and noticed several Buddhist worship services and other peculiarities. In this connection, the paper aims at identifying Buddhist religion that is prevalent in Vietnam focusing on three paramount concepts I learned in class such as the moral policy of the Denver Buddhist Temple (Temple), symbolic actions of people in the Temple, and different kinds of Buddha statues (Robbins 134). The acquired knowledge seems essential and interesting for the understanding of Buddhism. Therefore, I would like to share my experience.
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First, it seems appropriate to pinpoint the fundamentals of the Buddhism religion to make my observations more comprehensible for the reader. In contrast to some other religions, Buddhism does not recognize the sacred books of the divine persons or any other form of authoritarianism. The mentioned religion preaches that human is the creator of his destiny. Buddhism teaches that people should aspire to live a life of simplicity, purity, and actions that would lead to nirvana – eternal bliss.
To better understand Buddhism, I decided to visit the Denver Buddhist Temple Saturday. During my visit, I conversed with two persons, namely, Reverend Fujii and an older Vietnamese woman named Dung. Both of them were interesting and intelligent persons so that we discussed a set of topics concerning the Buddhist religion.
One of the first issues that I observed was the clothing of people in the Temple. Reverend Fujii was wearing a typical back robe and a colorful sash. According to Buddhists moral policy, nothing should distract them on the way to reaching self-knowledge and self-improvement. I was surprised to learn that there are different kinds of Buddhism.
While monks take a vow of celibacy, have a minimum of material values, and represent a high level of Buddhists’ moral standards, in the Denver Temple, they belong to Jodo Shinshu Buddhism for common people rather than to monastic Buddhism for singularly minded people. Realizing that most people fall short of attaining enlightenment on their own, through the compassion and wisdom of Amida Budda they can achieve enlightenment through the Nembutsu. Reciting “Namo Amida Butsu” expresses their gratitude, meaning I take refuge in Amida Buddha.
The second point I discussed with Reverend Fuji was the fact that there are many different kinds of Buddha statues. There are over 100 Buddha Statues representing an important event in the life of the historical Buddha. While all have a similar elongated ear lobes, they are much different in appearance than the traditional laughing Buddha I am accustomed to seeing.
The third point I discussed with the Reverend Fujii was the symbolic actions of people in the Temple. Precisely speaking, people revealed solid respect for the Temple and each other taking off shoes and covering legs and hands as appropriate before entering. Moreover, I noted that worshippers might pray standing in front of Buddha statue and bowing or meditate in the lotus position.
Lastly, speaking with Dung, I learned that the Temple will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary in October. Many events will be organized to celebrate this great milestone including a cookbook, a quilt, a historical DVD, a marathon, a fashion show, and Karaoke. The community of the Temple is diverse and includes Americans, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Chinese people. When I asked her what was one of cross-cultural misunderstandings she encountered in America, she replied hugging. In Vietnam, people ask permission before hugging someone as hugging someone without permission is considered rude and a violation of one’s personal space. In America, hugging someone is considered a friendly welcoming greeting.
I really enjoyed my visit. The building was modern but very oriental including a bookstore, meeting hall, and gym. When entering the building, I instantly smelt the pleasant aroma of incents. The people I encountered were down to earth and welcoming. I feel that their beliefs are in some parallel to Christianity as they realize that people are imperfect and believe that they can achieve enlightenment through their religious figure.
Robbins, Richard H. Cultural Anthropology: A Problem-based Approach. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2013. Print.