What Sparked The Human Interest In The Divine Or The Supernatural?

1974 words - 8 pages

On Thursday April 17th, I visited the Hue Quang Buddhist Temple in Santa Ana, CA for an evening prayer service at 7:00 PM with a fellow student. This is a Vietnamese Buddhist temple, and we were the only people at this prayer service that did not speak vietnamese. Shoes were to be removed before entering the temple. The temple is an open room with a large white central buddha statue and two white statues on either side. One of a man, and one of a woman depicted touching her thumb and middle finger with her right hand, and pouring water out of a vase with the other, she is depicted with a child. The statues were lit with changing colors. Incense was burning and apples and oranges were stacked very carefully as an offerings. Upon arriving early, we observed a woman in a blue robe bowing and praying to the woman figure, and another person in a yellow robe striking a giant bell with a large suspended wooden beam. An older gentleman with a very thick accent approached us and became our unofficial guide for the evening. He suggested that we make a prayer to what he called the “lady buddha”, and that she will bring us good luck and happiness. He then taught us to say an important phrase that we should say during the prayer when everyone else recites the prayers in Vietnamese. He taught us to say, “A Di Đà Phật,” which I would come to learn is the name for the bodhisattva Amida, and that the recitation of his name is very important. For the prayer service, square cushions were placed on the floor of the temple, and books were placed on wooden stands in front of each cushion. Our guide instructed us to stand around the edges of the room, and when the monk struck the bowl at the front of the room, we were to bow to the people across from us, and then to the buddha at the front of the room. We did so and then found a cushion. The monks sat towards the front wearing their yellow robes, and everyone else sat behind them. The members of the temple all wore light blue robes, but Hannah and I just wore conservative street clothes. What followed was pretty confusing, as it was all in Vietnamese, but we did have the help of our new friend. The first 40 or so minutes of the prayer, singing bowls were struck by the monks every so often, chimes were jingled— I think to denote different sections of the prayer,— and a monk at the front of the room kept a rhythm with a carved wooden percussion instrument and a mallet. The first few minutes, everyone knelt on their mat chanting/singing in unison with full, head-to-the-ground bowing interspersed throughout. After this, everyone sat crisscross on the mats and began to recite a prayer, either with their palms pressed together in front of their chest, or folded in their lap with thumbs touching and palms up, mimicking the buddha statue. Our friend instructed us to recite “A Di Đà Phật” in rhythm while the rest of people chanted in Vietnamese. This continued for some time. Following this section, everyone opened their books...

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