Buddhist Temple and Ancient China BY BEN CHASIN

The Buddha

Buddhism is a religion started by the Buddha in northern India, and it later spread to China and other parts of Asia. The Buddha came from an aristocratic family that was very wealthy, and he lived around 500 B.C. He was a spiritual leader and was shielded from the world when he was a child. He believed that anyone could achieve happiness (enlightenment). Buddha means "the awakened one." Chinese Buddhism and Korean Buddhism are very similar but Korean Buddhism focuses on practicing the religion and Chinese Buddhism focuses on studying and learning the religion. Zen Buddhism teaches you to look inside of every person and pull out the characteristics of that person that makes everyone the same.

A large golden Buddha accompanied by smaller Buddhas (and many other piece of artwork)

I visited the Korean Jogei Zen Buddhist Temple. During my visit, I observed this statue of the Buddha, decorated with smaller Buddhas behind it. The smaller Buddhas in the background are dedicated to people who have passed away. Above the large Buddha, there are 4 dragons. These dragons are surrounding the Buddha to show that the Buddha is protected. In ancient China and Korea, dragons were thought to protect the Buddha. The size and placement of the large Buddha are used to show how important the Buddha is in relation to everything else around it. In the Buddha's left hand, there is a golden ball. This golden ball represents the universe in a magical way. During these times, gold was very valuable, and still is, so by making the Buddha out of gold, it showed that the Buddha was very important.

Lotus flowers

These are lotus flowers that were placed on the ceiling of the main room of the temple. Lotus flowers were known to be "tough" and able to overcome any obstacle. They are there to show the Buddha is strong and can survive anything.

Carvings on the base of the Buddha

In the Temple, there were several wood carvings, depicting the Buddha's life. This piece of wood is the base to another statue of the Buddha. The carvings are very detailed, and show the Buddha's life, in chronological order of the events that happened. The carvings go in order from left to right.

Bells and stick to hit the brown bell with

These are bells used by the monks when praying. The brown bell on the left side is accompanied by a stick to hit it with. The monk would hit the bell with the stick in a pattern that sounded almost like a musical song. Both sets of bells are used for chanting and practicing the religion of Buddhism. Each bell has a different sound.

A future 8th grader should definitely visit the Korean Jogei Zen Buddhism Temple. It is a place where there are many interesting statues of the Buddha, and there is artwork that depicts ancient times in the history of Buddhism. You get to learn how a monk is trained, and how he conducts his lifestyle, including the way he prays. You even get to sit in and watch the monk make a prayer to the Buddha! You get to learn about the symbolism of each facet of the Buddha, like what different body parts represent, or what an object that the Buddha is wearing or holding symbolizes. It was a educational experience for me, and it should be interesting for any 8th grader who visits the Temple.

My experience at the Buddhist Temple relates to the principles of Daoism. At the temple, the monk led an exercise where the whole group meditated for 5 minutes. Daoism and Buddhism are both peaceful and meditative religions. Both religions use meditation for peace of mind and enlightenment. Daoism focuses on being one with nature, and respecting living things. Daoism also emphasizes letting go of all greed and sorrow to achieve happiness.

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