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Buddhism Experience

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By Peachrose
Words 1048
Pages 5
My Buddhism Essay
DeVry University

I chose to do my essay on Buddhism since reading about it in my religion class it grabbed my attention and I wanted to know more about it. My husband and I are born and raised Catholics but for the past 2-3 years we have shied away from the church because we feel they are more commercialized and are not concerned with how their followers feel about the church. Doing my research, there were no Buddhist temples in my area so the closest one I found was about 30 minutes away in New York City. When I called to find out if they offer tours they didn’t but I was welcomed to come and sit in on one of their temple meetings. This is about that experience.
I found a Buddhist Church online called “The New York Buddhist Church.” The woman I spoke to was not very friendly and when I started to ask some questions, she gave me their website and said I could find the answers I was looking for. I went online to their website and started looking around to see when they would have meetings that I could attend. From what I gathered it looked like there was a temple meeting that I could attend on a Wednesday evening for chanting and meditation, this sounded like something I may enjoy!
I left straight from work to attend this meeting in New York City and was planning on taking public transportation because I did not know how the traffic or the parking would be and taking public transportation I would be less stressed with both. I had dressed causal since I was not sure on how to dress and was very much relieved to see everyone else that was there was dressed casual as well. The meeting scheduled for this Wednesday was to run from 7:00pm-8:30pm and I was super nervous because I wasn’t sure about the chanting, do I just chant what I want or do I chant what the other members were chanting? I must’ve looked nervous because an elderly man showed me where to leave my shoes and where to go to chant. Before I could ask him about what to chant he left to rejoin his group of people. I found a spot on the floor near the Buddhist statue and kneeled down to chant. They provided a small pillow to kneel on which was great because the floors were not carpeted and looked like it could possibly be made of marble but I wasn’t going to ask. I closed my eyes and listened to what the others were chanting but I could not make it out so I just kept a low voice and kind of prayed but in a chanting way.
This lasted about 45 minutes then the group moved to another large room for the meditation. There was one large Buddha statue with about a dozen more around the room. Everyone sat on the floor Indian style and began meditating to themselves except the elderly who sat in chairs to meditate. This I felt more comfortable doing than the chanting because from reading and doing research, meditating is to connect with yourself. This was the most enjoyable part of my experience because at the time I went to the temple I was struggling with a couple of personal issues and while I was meditating I was not distracted by my family or other things and was able to concentrate on my issues and try to work through them. I was so involved with my meditating that I was tapped on the shoulder to leave by other members of the temple. I asked a couple who looked like they attend this temple on a regular basis if there was someone in charge I could speak to. They told me the resident minister at the temple is Rev. Hoshu Y. Matsubayashi, but unfortunately he was not around that night. I looked for some literature at the temple about the temple itself but could not find any.
I did, however find some information on their website: The New York Buddhist Church (NYBC) is a Jodo Shinshu, which means “True Pure Land School” Buddhist temple, whose head temple is the Nishi Hongwanji in Kyoto, Japan. Shinran Shonin (1173-1262) is the founder of this school of Buddhism. Amida Buddha is a central focus of the Pure Land Buddhist practice, and Jodo Shinshu expresses this devotion through a chanting practice called the nembutsu, or “Mindfulness of the Buddha [Amida],” which is simply reciting the phrase Namu Amida Butsu (“I take refuge in Amida Buddha”). As interpreted by Shinran Shonin, the nembutsu becomes an act of gratitude to Amida Buddha—furthermore, it evokes in the practitioner the power of Amida’s unobstructed compassion.
The NYBC has served the New York community since 1938, and was founded by Rev. Hozen Seki with the assistance of his wife Satomi and dedicated lay people. They all wished to share the Buddha-Dharma teachings and establish the first Jodo Shinshu center in America’s most populous city. Their wishes have flourished as today we continue to share the Buddha-Dharma in New York. (NYBC, n.d.)
This was a very enjoyable experience for me. The temple was beautifully decorated but I could not help to think was it all necessary or was this for show? Maybe being raised Catholic and you attend other churches you notice that some have more expensive items than others. This is one of the reasons I have shied away because it seems like a material thing to have so much more than the next church, I slightly felt like that in the temple. Overall my experience was good. Would I go again? Yes but maybe just for the meditating. Even though I can do that at home, there are less distractions at a temple than at home or even the park. Would I become a Buddhist? Possibly, being Catholic is hard-wired in my brain and I would feel like I was abandoning my religion by switching but who is to say one religion is better than the other?

References

NYBC. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://j-collabo.org/j-map2/new-york-buddhist-church/.…...

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