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Jan-21-2021
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Visiting the Temple — Basic Buddhism

1. Temple

A Buddhist temple forever remains the center of faith and a source of strength. A temple is a gathering place for good Dharma friends on the path together, a place to refuel on the road of life, and a vacation retreat for cultivating one’s spirit. It is a place of purity where we can wash away our affliction, bring ourselves close to the Dharma, and learn about compassion, wisdom, vows, and practice.

2. Mountain Gate

There is a saying in Buddhism, that “Wealth enters the mountain gate and merit is credited to the generous benefactor.” The term “mountain gate” refers to the main entrance of a Buddhist temple, since many temples were once built in mountain forests.

The mountain gate represents a transition from the ordinary to the sagely, from ignorance to awakening, and from darkness to the light, symbolizing the entrance of the worldly into the Buddhist sphere. So they do not return empty handed, those who enter the mountain gate must leave their habitual tendencies at the door.

The mountain gate is also sometimes called the “triple gate,” as it represents the gate of faith, the gate of wisdom, and the gate of compassion. The gate of faith is entered by means of the Buddha, the gate of wisdom is entered by means of the Dharma, and the gate of compassion is entered by means of the Sangha. This is what it means to enter the Way by the Triple Gem. (Adapted from FaXiang, published by FGSITC)

3. Greeting

Joining palms and saying the Buddha’s name is how Buddhists express truth and goodness towards each other.

Many Buddhists greet each other with their hands joined together and placed at the center of the chest. This gesture symbolizes the lotus flower bud. The beautiful lotus flower grows out of the bottom of a pond, which is full of mud and decay. Because of their origin, lotus flowers are a symbol for awakening since a human being, although born in a world of pain and suffering, has the potential to go beyond and attain liberation. Lotus flowers can be found throughout temples. As a way to say hello, goodbye, or thank you, Buddhists often join palms and say, “Amituofo.” Amituofo is the Chinese pronunciation of Amitabha Buddha, meaning infinite life and infinite light. (Adapted from FaXiang, published by FGSITC)

4. Monastic

Monastics can simply be addressed as “Venerable.” You can easily identify monastics by their shaved heads and long, ochre colored robes. Upon becoming ordained, monastics take many vows, including one to regularly shave their heads. According to the life story of the Buddha, upon departing his home to search for the end of suffering, one of the first things he did was shave his hair and exchange his ornate clothes for a simple robe; Buddhist monastics continue these practices to show their dedication to the Buddha’s path. Traditionally, robes were dyed to a saffron or ochre color from vegetable matter like roots and leaves. Often, a red clay was added to give the robe a slightly orange hue. Although vegetable dyes are rarely used today, the color was influential, and most traditions of Buddhism still use shades of color between red and brown for their robes.(Adapted from FaXiang, published by FGSITC)

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