Hsi Lai Temple

Hsi Lai Temple

Personal Perspective

When this paper was first assigned to
us I didn\'t have any clue as to which Asian American religion was worth
doing research on. As timed passed and more thought was given to the project

I finally decided to go with Buddhism. The reason why I choose Buddhism
as my topic is to allow me to relate more closely to the friends and family
members who are Buddhist. In my family most of them are strong believers
in Buddhism. As a child I never really understood the things that
went on during time of prayer at my house in Taiwan. This is the
main reason why I choose this particular religion to do my study on.

Hopefully by the end on this paper I will be able to relate to my family
better.

Through out my life I have visited many

Buddhist temples. As I walk through the temple I remember becoming
very interested in the what happens within these walls. I was never
the religious type. Therefore I have no preference as to what religion

I should be. Because of this my relationship with my family on a
religious aspect has drifted wider and wider apart. This is why I
choose the Buddhist religion , hoping to closing the gap which exist between
me and the rest of the family on a religious aspect.

Introduction

This study which is being conducted is
purely a observational study. This study was done at the Hsi Lai

Temple located in Hacienda Heights. This temple is the Los Angeles
branch, the original is located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan ( Fo Guang Shan ).

The Hsi Lai temple is about 102,432 sq. ft. The name Hsi Lai when
translated means "coming to the west". This temple signifies the
dedication of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order to spread the teachings
of the Buddha to those in the west. It also serves as a bridge of
cultural exchange between the east and the west.

In order for this study to be successful
a lot of time was spent at the temple. It was about a little past
noon on a Saturday when the study took place. It was pretty crowded
around this time of day. There were a lot of activities going on
here. There were people praying, there were those who took in the
scenery within the temple walls, and than there were also those came to
study. Many visitors visits these premises every day. It place
is also an tourist spot for those who have just came from Taiwan.

The reason why so many people come by is because they are interested in
how a western temple would look like. Hsi Lai temple compared to its parent
monastery in Taiwan is much smaller.

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.

Objective

There exist four objectives within the

Hsi Lai Temple. The first of the four is that it wants to expand
its skills and talents through education. The second is that they
want to foster an awareness of Buddhism through its cultural activities.

The third is to benefit society through charitable events. Lastly
it wants to cultivate the human mind through Dharma practices. These are
the four major objectives which the temple focuses on.

Physical Description

The Hsi Lai Temple was built according
to the architecture of the Ming and Ching dynasty. It took about
ten years for the completion of this temple (1988). The initial concept
of building the temple started in 1978. It took six public hearings
and over a hundred community meetings to clear its proposal of building
the temple. The actual planning of the temple took place on August

22, 1984 and the actual construction of the temple was on July 28, 1986.

The Hsi Lai Temple was built to serve as a multifunction international

Buddhist center. This center consist on a main shrine, meditation
hall, lecture hall, a Dharma hall, Tripitaka hall, a library, lodging for
traveling monks and nuns, an international conference center, twenty classrooms,
two gardens, a memorial hall, a cultural exhibition room, a school for

Chinese arts and culture, a dining hall, and living quarters for monks
and nuns.

The first thing to be seen upon entering
the temple is the large gateway with Chinese characters inscribed into
it. Then after the gateway at the