Transcending Religion

On June 8, 2013, in Activities, by Catharine Steffens

By Max Waxman ’14 Last weekend I was fortunate enough to visit a Buddhist park with my host family. Immediately upon arrival I knew that I was in a special place. I walked through the gates and was awestruck by the beauty of the park. There were temples everywhere and the entire park was surrounded by greenery. It seemed to emit an aura of peacefulness. Right inside the main gate was a stone carving of an old man. On his head and in his hand there was a peach which in Chinese culture is supposed to symbolize old age and everything that comes with it, i.e. knowledge, work, etc. We then undertook the task of ascending to the uppermost section of the park to meet with one of the Buddhist masters. The change in elevation from bottom to top was similar to that of a small mountain. Along the hike the aroma of incense pervaded the air, which added to the peaceful atmosphere of the park. When we reached the master, I was surprised to see that he was a younger looking man. He looked to be in his thirties, had a shaved head, and was wearing a robe. We followed him inside a two room building. We all sat in one room which had about 8×8 feet dimensions. I believe that the other room was where he slept. We were not allowed to take pictures, which is unfortunate because the room was quite a sight. All along the walls were paintings and works of calligraphy. There was a table in the center of the room surrounded by two couches and a few stools. Finally, there were stone and wooden carvings all over the room. While there, Jason’s mom asked if the master would explain the concepts of Buddhism to me. Due to the language barrier, Jason (my host brother) acted as my translator, so some meaning may have been lost in translation, but I understood the gist of what was being said. One of the main beliefs of Buddhism is that of complete equality: of humans, animals, plants, etc. In theory I thought this was a good belief, but in practice I could not picture it as feasible. I think this belief was really a call to respect all life. Too often do humans neglect not only each other, but also the plants and animals around us, and the environment in which we all live. Another central Buddhist teaching which falls along similar lines is to treat others as you wish to be treated. This is an idea that I believe transcends any specific religion. It appears in Buddhism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity and most other religions, and it is often a central tenet of that particular religion. Simply put, the concept is to be a good person. You shouldn’t be focused solely on your own personal wants and desires, but should rather keep the wellbeing of others in mind when making decisions and acting. After the meeting we left to view a Buddhist ceremony. This was extremely interesting, although I really had no idea what was going on. A bunch of people gathered outside a room that had many of the monks in it. The monks then began to chant and ring bells and play drums. Whenever given the cue (which I couldn’t figure out), the people would bow and pray. Shortly before the end of the ceremony we left to eat lunch which was an experience in itself. We ate with many of the monks, in silence. Overall, this was an amazing experience. I was able to learn about a different religion, but what I mostly found were ideas that transcend religion. Whatever your beliefs, it only makes sense that you should keep others in mind. Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.

20130602_103333.jpg

20130602_103333.jpg

20130602_100746.jpeg

20130602_100746.jpeg

20130602_084053.jpeg

20130602_084053.jpeg

 

Comments are closed.



4701 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85012 | 602-264-5291
Questions or comments about this site? Please .