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The Hsi Lai Temple In Hacienda Heights

1399 words - 6 pages

I arrived at the Hsi Lai Temple in the city of Hacienda Heights around 3:00 p.m. on March 7, 2014. Although I am Chinese, I have never been to this temple before because my family does not practice Buddhism. This is my first time collecting data about the His Lai Temple. This method is referred to as participant-observation which is, “the anthropological method of collecting data by living with another people, learning their language, and understanding their culture” (Arenson and Miller-Thayer 521). The temple is built on a hill top. After driving up the long hill into the parking lot, I found that before entering the temple, I walked up many stairs. In the brochure For Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple, it said that the name Hsi Lai stands for “coming to the West”. The temple, which was founded by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, signifies the dedication of Taiwan’s largest Buddhist organizations called the Fo Guang Shan. It took ten years to build the temple and was completed in 1988. This $30 million Temple on 15 acres of land was financed by donations from Buddhist devotees from around the worlds.
The first view of the temple, I felt that I have stepped into another culture. Culture is “the way of life a people, including their behavior, the things they make, and their ideas” (Ibid 518). The city of Hacienda Heights is the center of the largest Buddhist temple in North America. There are many Chinese cultures symbols at the temple. From the golden hip and gable roof top to the red pillars holding up the temple. The monks and nuns are the ones organizing the temple events. They wear a light brown robe. I have notice that all monks and nuns have shaved their heads. I believe this is called rites of passage which “are ceremonies that mark changes in a person’s social position that are of general public concerns” (Ibid 388). They would shave their head in the initiation of becoming a Buddhist. It is a way to be ready to achieve purity and I also think it’s a way to distinguish from who have not joined. Many of the monks who resides there are from Taiwan They came for the purpose of taking care of the temple. Each individual has their own daily chores. Some are in charge of giving tours to the visitors that comes here and others are either in charge of keeping the grounds of the temple clean or assisting those who are lost within the temple.
People who go to the Hsi Lai temple come from all different ages and races. Race “refers to ethnic groups assumed to have a distinct biological basis” (Ibid 107). Mainly Asian people will go to the temple. Around the city, lots of Chinese’s people live in the area so they can visit the temple more often. At the temple, the only smell that I can remember is the smell of essence. I hear no music or sound at the temple. It feels quiet and peaceful. The first thing I saw when people arrive to the temple is they would grab incense and pray to the two guardians who protect the temple from evil. After that, they enter the...

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