As my site visit project I chose to visit the Buddhist temple “Wat Buddharangsi of Miami”. From the beautiful temple to the splendid hospitality of the monks it was a very educating and memorable experience. There were almost little to no obstacles both entering the site and approaching the religious leaders. From only my first visit I learned much about a culture with which I have had very little interaction except from a few people whom I knew practiced Buddhism and what I see on general media.
When I first got to the site both me and a fellow classmate who I went with were a bit lost and confused. The first thing I noticed was the astounding statue of the Buddha outside which greeted us with a We didn’t know who to approach or where to go in the massive temple, luckily there were a few other FIU students who were on the process of leaving and directed us on where to go. Not knowing much about their culture I was a little nervous, but the first monk whom we met was very kind and called on another monk whom I’m guessing was more seniority. He gave a general and brief explanation of their practices and their beliefs. It was very surprising to me how humble their beliefs were, most practices seemed to center on being kind and doing good actions. Although the themes of being a generally moral person and performing good actions are taught in most religions none that I know emphasize it as much as Buddhism. After telling of their practices, the life of the Buddha he welcomed us to look around. When I asked him if there were any prohibited places that I should know about I was surprised to find that there were none.
The room we were in was a kind of dining room. As we walked and looked around we saw the food offerings that the monk had told us of, they were offerings to the Buddha, thanking him for his teachings. Also we were surprised to find that they provided free “home-made” food for the public, and all that they asked for was that you waited until the monks finished their meal before you began. Continuing my visit I went outside to where the temple had posters surrounding a decorated tree, these posters contained the story of the life of Buddha. Just like the monk told us it taught that he had a very rich life, a prince in fact, but he ran away in search for truth that took him 6 years. The decorated tree was the same type of tree under which the Buddha was said to have meditated.
What is definitely most memorable from my experience is the enormous golden Buddha inside the temple itself. Although I didn’t get to enter because I was on my way to the dining room, I was still able to quickly peer inside. The statue really presented an imposing presence, it sits in the far most center of the room directly across from the doorway. Around the Buddha statue must have been at least hundreds of food offerings and candles. The whole experience was much more indulging than I had previously expected and can’t wait to return and learn more of it.