For my site visit I chose to visit the Wat Buddharangsi of Miami. As a baby, I was baptized as a catholic. After baptism, my mom really didn’t continue the traditional steps like communion or confirmation. I didn’t know much about it so it didn’t affect me either way. I’m guessing my original tradition would be catholic but I was raised in a home where I didn’t need to go to church or had any other beliefs passed down on me. I consider myself as someone who believes there is a greater good out there but that are outcomes are based on the decisions we make. I believe if you have positive thoughts and share happiness, good karma will come and vice versa. I feel like the Buddhist religion kind of shares this belief too why I chose to explore more in detail about Buddhism.
I invited a friend to come along so I wouldn’t be so nervous. I am not used to stepping out my comfort zone especially when it comes to religious type of things. The temple is located deep in the redlands of Homestead. The temple was very nice and well put together. The first thing I noticed while coming up to the doors were that we had to remove our shoes before entering at all. Shoes were not permitted at all throughout the whole temple. We took off our shoes and entered. It was very quiet and peaceful. The very first step inside, I felt this kind of feeling of the bliss and just by that step, you can tell that this is such a sacred space for these monks.
Before going, I read that the monks have this no physical contact with females so I’d know not to shake hands or hug like how I would normally do. When we entered a monk greeted us politely and asked if we had any questions and he would answer them. My friend and I decided that we would want to explore on our own and the monk said it was okay as long as we don’t disrupt any meditation going on. We explored for a little and saw some prayer classes going on. It was very interesting to see the different types of praying rituals. There was a point where we felt excluded because we couldn’t be part of those praying rituals. One of the monks just said we were not permitted inside. I assumed we weren’t permitted because we are visitors so I didn’t take offense to it.
I came to the temple expecting them not to let us inside. I always had this thing that it’s rude to come to a sacred place you don’t fully believe in. Also, I am used to wearing whatever I want, and especially in this weather I would wear shorts and a tank top. However, I read that it is a bit disrespectful to dress like that so I went with pants and a long sleeve. The monks were helpful and they talked to us but no physical contact. They really explained their lifestyle in detail and I learned a lot. The monks seemed almost used to sharing this information like many people come to visit. They were also so happy to and did not seem upset at any instance. What impacted me most of the visit was how peaceful the temple was. These monks create this sacred space of peace that I felt coming through the door. Also, I felt like a guest at home. The monks did not treat me like a stranger when it came to showing me the place or speaking of their lifestyle. They made both, my friend and I, understand their culture in a way that will stay with me forever.