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Field Study In A Buddhist Temple

2011 words - 8 pages

Buddhism is one of the many religions that have traveled westward to the United States, but its ability to change to better fit the people living here has allowed it to thrive for many years. I visited the West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple on Sunday at nine in the morning. The service had the unique ability to uphold tradition and adapt to its surroundings with an hour allotted time. Ritual practice, losing oneself to the ego, and deeds of devotion were fulfilled by the means of traditional meditation, while the preaching of the minister and his importance satisfied social justice and intellectual inquiry therefore upholding five out of the six ways of being religious traditionally.West Los Angeles had a very small Japanese community in 1926 that practiced Buddhism. They found it hard to continue their practices alone because a majority of their neighbors were Christians; so a group of Buddhists decided to get together and meet every week for meditation, a reading of the sutras, and to recite creeds. This group then observed how their Christian neighbors met every Sunday at a church to worship, which increased the strength of the Christian community and made it more known to others seeking worship. The decision was then made to meet every Sunday at a temple that will have a minister run service for an hour, reflecting the more western, Christian, “American” way to conduct their religion. An hour allotted time out of the week was very convenient for the working person who had a job and a family to tend to but served as a problem when considering how to achieve Buddhist traditional values, set forth in the earliest teachings, in a mere hour. There had to be an innovation of the six ways of being Buddhist to better fit the time given along with staying true to tradition.Ritual practice is represented in Oshoko and meditation performed during the service. Oshoko, the burning of incense, is performed as means of cleansing. You are to walk three steps before the burner and bow, take a tiny pinch of incense with your right hand, drop it in the burner, take two steps back, and bow for the last time. This tradition is taught from a very early age because children as young as seven went up to perform Oshoko. This custom was brought all the way from the eastern roots of Buddhism shown in the Buddhist video shown in class. A woman and her children go to a temple and perform Oshoko before meditating.In Buddhism, our hearts and minds generate craving. Therefore, the only way to suppress cravings is to work on the mind and heart. Meditation provides an outlet for that critical Buddhist belief. “The task of meditation is to cleanse the mind. It ties in with the heart of the Buddha’s message: That dis-ease lies in our craving, in the three unwholesome roots of greed, hatred and delusion.” (Partridge, 201) We, thus, need to cleanse our minds of greed hatred and delusion through meditation to bring us closer to Nirvana, the final goal of...

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