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Hum 130 Final

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World Religious Report For my World Religious Report I spent time a local Buddhist Center. I chose Buddhism do to my lack of understanding of the religion, and my desire to broaden my understanding of a totally new religion. My journey first began with my visit to the Buddhist Center. The Buddhist Center was founded in 1995 by Master *****, who is said to have dedicated his life to bringing the ancient wisdom of Buddha into modern society. During my visit I was told that the purpose of Center is to enable the development of inner peace through the study and practice of Kadampa Buddhist meditation. Classes are taught by the resident teacher, American Buddhist monk and by senior students at the Center.
The Center is named after Buddha of wisdom, whose function as I am told is to increase wisdom or our wisdom, compassion and inner qualities. The Center offers a variety of services: from Meditation classes, teachings and retreats. Their claim is that these classes are accessible, practical, and open to everyone. The Center from what I understand is part of the New Kadampa Tradition - International Kadampa Buddhist Union, an international organization with over 1,000 member Centers and branches around the world, including several in Los Angeles. During my visit I formed my own opinion of the center. During my visit to the Center I was first welcomed in by a member of the center who was leaving, I had just missed their time of worship. I was invited in and at first walked in to what appeared to be a store. Upon talking to the individual working the store I began to realize that many of my preconceived notions as to what this place was going to be like were most likely going to by false. The Center has a very nice store were one can purchase artifacts, worshiping materials, books, and even books for beginners like myself who had no idea about the religion of Buddhism. After a while of browsing around the store I met a man, whom I then struck up a conversation with. A man who is currently a senior student at the center actually lives in the temple. I asked tom if it would be possible to schedule an interview with the resident teacher, informed me that the resident teacher was unavailable for the next several weeks; however, he would be happy to answer any questions I may have. So with tom’s help I began my journey into Buddhism. The first thing we did was take a tour of the facility, obviously this included the temple were I had to remove my shoes as is customary. I ask tom to explain to me what Buddhism was about. Tom told me there the basic concept of Buddhism is inner enlightenment. This particular center focuses on working men and woman in western society and the goal of this center is to bring Buddhism to mainstream America in such a way they the working class can effectively lean and enjoy the practices associated with the religion. I must say that my initial thought was that I would be stepping in to a traditional monastery with monks everywhere; I quickly came to find out that most members of the center were just like me. After our opening conversation I soon moved in to some deeper questioning. The first direct question I posed to tom was for him tell me about himself. Tom said he worked in Downtown at a business and lived above the center in an extra room. He lived there to save on rent an provide security for the center, A win-win situation for both of them, he had told me that he has been studying Buddhism sine the center had opened and was a trusted member of the center. I as k tom If he planned on becoming an official monk, he said no that the commitment was just too much for him at the time and that he as happy where he was now. I asked tom to describe some of the more important holidays of Buddhism. This part of the conversation was rather hard to follow; I did learn that most holidays are based on days related to the birth of death of the Buddha and that different country such as Japan may use different dates then Tibetan Buddhist. Another interesting bit I learned was how the Buddhist uses a lunar system to set the dates of a holiday and not the traditional western calendar. We soon moved on to talking about traditions. The traditions of Buddhism aren’t nessasarly the same everywhere. I learned that there are general similarities. One of the biggest differences was how people here in the west can com off the street and participate in the ceremonies, apparently in Tibet the average common person cannot just walk in to a temple and decide they want to start praying to the Buddha, there is a lot more to it for them. One thing all Buddhist have in common is the search for internal enlightenment through meditation and the overall desire to make themselves better people through Buddhism. We soon moved from talking about the religion to talking about how Buddhism has shaped him. Tom told me that Buddhism and this center had help turn him from an empty unfulfilled person who was obsessed with financial success to someone who enjoys life and wants to be the best person he can be. The interview ender after about 15 minutes with me thanking tom and taking some of the centers literature home to read. Once Home I started reviewing the notes I had taken and began to realize that the experience of actually being in this Buddhist center was quit moving to me, so much so that many of the questions I had intended to ask went by the way side do to my pure enjoyment of being there. My initial opinion was far from my actual experience, I expected lines of monks eating rice and banging bells, what I found were enlightened individuals just like myself why decided that there was more to life to enjoy and found or were finding the path to that enjoyment with the help of the Buddhist faith Years ago my wife who was raised catholic introduced me to that religion, I never really felt comfortable with the structure and the strict nature of the catholic faith, It just wasn’t my cup of tea so to speak. In contrast this Buddhist experience was very comfortable. The biggest difference was the catholic religion has a hierarchy and a devotion to Jesus and the church. My belief is that people only need devote themselves to themselves. Buddhism allows you to do that. Buddhism is about making yourself, the individual better, not showing someone else that you believe in there god as Catholicism requires. I personally felt a connection with this place and this form of Buddhism. I plan to bring my wife to the center to possible become a member of the center this is far from my opinion of other religions I have explored. This experience without a doubt could possibly be a life changing one.…...

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