Free societies benefit from a separation of church and state, while others are greatly governed by a combination of the two. The problem arises when religious beliefs overpower human rights, and oppression takes over. At the center of its core, Buddhism emphasizes on meditation as the path towards liberation of the wheel of samsara. To further my understanding, I chose to focus on a Tibetan meditation practice known as Vajrayana, which is the most important practice from the Theravada schools as a means to the liberation of all sentient beings, hence, eliminating oppression and suffering (Lewis, 69). To gain a greater understanding and appreciation for this practice, I participated in a meditation service and lecture given by Buddhist monk Lopon Wangdu at the Drinkung Kyobpa Choling Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Escondido, California. Lopon Wangdu explained about the structure of Vajrayana meditation since Tibetan Buddhist meditation is quite different and multifaceted when compared to other types of meditation.
The Drinkung Kyobpa Choling Tibetan Buddhist Temple is located atop of a hill one hour outside of San Diego. Before I entered, I strolled through the garden, and I noticed a Bodhi tree planted in the back of the building, surrounded by green, green grass. To my disappointment, the grass was synthetic, and I immediately wondered about the tree. I had to find out, was the tree real? Though it was not the original tree, it was alive and well. Removing my sandals at the door gave me a humbling feeling as it dawned on me I was entering a sacred place designed for those looking for peace and enlightenment. People were beginning to find their place and the majority of the attendees sat on the cushions placed on the floor after finding their perfect lotus sitting position. I stood at the door for a minute, looking for my place in the sacred temple, and soon realized that my experience wasn’t going to be complete due to lack of cushions on the center of the floor, so I sat on a high chair against the wall.
While I didn’t have any expectations to the ethnicity of the attendees that would be present, I was quite surprised to find out that not only 95% of the people present were middle-aged, middle-class American, but the monk was Caucasian as well. What surprised me the most was the vivid presence of postmodernity surrounding me. When I first walked in I noticed that the room adjunct to the main floor of the temple, the kitchen, was filled with top-notch appliances. In the main room sat a flat screen T.V. connected to an Apple laptop and sound speakers. This took me by surprise since I have been to other Buddhist temples, and each had been overwhelmed with simplicity.
However, there were some characteristics that were on par with my knowledge of Buddhism. The monks sat on the cushions on the floor, and the altar was decorated with Buddhist relics, and a statue of the Buddha took center stage. The yellow and red coloring that is often associated...