For my site visit, i chose to visit the Wat Buddharangsi Buddhist Temple of Miami. Because I have always had an interest in the Buddhist religion, I was very excited for this opportunity. Before my visit, I contacted the temple to ask questions about when and where i was allowed to visit, and just to make sure I would not intrude on any of their rules or private ceremonies. They were very accommodating over the phone and seemed excited for me to visit.
I decided to visit the temple alone. I felt that It would be more of a personal-like experience if i went by myself. While there were a couple other students from FIU at the temple as well, I was accommodated by a monk and it was just us two.
Once I got to the temple my first reaction was one of awe; the decor of the temple is simply amazing. There are large statues, which after some research I learned are worth thousands of dollars. The entire temple actually, is of phenomenal history. The creation, and upbringing of this temple for the community took a lot of hard work and many years to become such a renowned temple as it is today. I followed some of the other students into a room that looked like a main dining room. From there I was introduced to one of the monks. We sat, and immediately, he began to talk to me about what it is to be Buddhist. He explained to me the main objectives of their philosophy, and way of being. He tended to use very vague descriptions, i noticed. I think that was just to really show that being a Buddhist or monk, while still following “rules”, really depends on one’s self. He then proceeded to tell me the life of Buddha. I found this very interesting and enlightening. I told him that my father and grandfather practice the Buddhist religion, and that i had just recently finished reading the Dhammapada. He seemed delighted that i had found such interest in their scriptures.
After our discussion it was time for the communal feeding of which you must wait until the monks are finished eating until you can eat. The food was homemade for the public which i found to be extremely kind, especially because there was so many of us students there. I continued to explore the temple, the monk told me that I was allowed to walk through and take a look at whatever I pleased; which was very shocking to me, but then again, gave an example of their teachings. As i reached the outside of the Temple I found a tree decorated as the tree that Buddha meditated under. Surrounding these trees was posters that depicted his life. I loved this part of the temple, the visuals were very beautiful. I also loved the large gold Buddha. It created such a presence, and such a god-like image, that it really took me back for a few minutes.
From incense lighting, the candles, to just the merely peaceful atmosphere, I really loved my experience at the Wat Temple. I felt very comfortable and in no way judged for visiting or taking up the monk’s time. This visit will definitely further my interest in the Buddhist religion as I am still myself trying to find my own personal religion to follow. The monk I was speaking with gave me some other temples that I could attend once I told him i loved the religion but I live very far, so I am definitely going to be attending one of the temples closer to me in the near future. I am very grateful for this experience as well as this project for giving me the opportunity to be apart of something different.