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What to Expect at a Buddhist Temple


JenniferB

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I realized recently that I needed to get out more and become involved, so I was looking for something I could enjoy in my area. On www.meetup.com I found something I really think I could be interested in and want to learn what I can. What I found was a class on Tai Chi and Qi Gong held at the Buddhist Temple every week. And that is something I believe I will find very enjoyable.

I also saw a couple other events I might be interested in at the Temple. Once a week there is a class in Yoga, and the more intriguing event is a mindfulness meditation class, also once a week.

I don't want to be a Buddhist, only a layperson, but I believe this could be extremely beneficial to me. I know enough about meditation to know how little I have control over my own mind. And I would like to understand it better to have a more realistic view of life, and to put it in balance. One thing I think that would be very beneficial would be to finally be able to forgive myself of all the mistakes I've done in my life and move on. Plus I will get to know other kind and caring people.

Will I be accepted in the Temple since I'm trans? I can see my personality blending in very well there. And I'm a spiritual person as it is.

Where should I start? What should I give as alms? I know about rice and fruit. What about beans (protein)? Are Monks Vegan? I know we have to have a minimal amount of animal protein every day, albeit meat, dairy, or eggs (or vitamin B6) to be healthy.

Is there a chance I'm getting in over my head?

I don't understand why Monks can't eat past noon. To me that seems unbalanced and unhealthy.

As usual with something new I go research crazy and learn everything I possibly can before I start.

Anyway the classes are free and I've wanted to try Tai Chi for awhile now, and with a Buddhist Temple in town I have an opportunity to try it.

Jenny

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Guest Juniper Blue

Hi Jenny!

I occasionally visit a Thai Buddhist Temple near my home. I can only ask questions when an interpreter is there adn I am ignorant of many of their customs.Once, during the morning meal, I brought home made chocolate cookies and you should have seen the monks SMILE! ( even the NUNS were smiling!) My expereince is that they are open ot visitors and generally welcome what we bring to the community.

I have visited many Buddhist temples including Thich Nhat Han's Deer Park in Escondido , CA and In Coorg, India, I visited a Larger Tibetan temple. I even visited Buddhist temples in China. There are many paths in Buddhism ... I am always just a visitor, not a true Buddhist, but I have always been welcomed with much love. The Monk's and the Nun's have always been very open to answering questions. I am very obviously gender variant in my appearance. (I am a very masculine female-bodied person.) My gender/sexual orientation has never been an issue when I have visited Buddhist temples. If you are extremely, anxious, you may wish to write and ask what their views are at that particular temple and ask specifically if you would be welcomed. You may also ask the general questions about dietary restrictions, alms, customs etc. Otherwise, you may just learn as you go.

In my experience, the Buddhist's are very open but it is always good to communicate clearly.

Hugs,

JB

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Hi Jenny,

I've been to many Buddhist temples, and found acceptance everywhere. In my last trip to one, I talked with several of the senior members about being trans and the confusion that it had caused for me and my spiritual life. They were very helpful. My previous Zen master has written to me and was very accepting of my transition, wanting me to come back as soon as possible. I have yet to pull back far enough from transition to make it a practice again, but am working in that direction.

Ki Gong is a wonderful thing, and Yoga as well. Both of them are terrific practices in mindfulness as well as energizing your body. I would recommend them first over meditation, because they are more calming. But, if meditation is taught well, it can be a wonderful thing as well.

Best of luck! I'm interested in hearing how your experiences went.

Love, Megan

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Guest Isobelle Fox

Though Christian in faith and tradition, I have done a lot reading about Buddhism these last two years, and I have found it to be enriching, spiritually complimentary, for me at least, beautiful, and very helpful in my daily life. I don't have access to a temple or Sangha, but I do have a devoted Buddhist friend who has been quiet an inspiration to me. His attitude, at least, has been one of great acceptance and support. I think the key is that COMPASSION is extremely important in the practice of this faith and way of life. Buddhists understand suffering, know it when they see it, and wish foremost for it ultimately to be alleviated.

I imagine being at the temple would be a very productive and peaceful way to spend your time, Jenny, and I doubt you will have to worry about anyone being concerned about your identity as a trans person.

Let us know how it goes!

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Guest ArchStanton

I hope your experience is a good one.

Every Buddhist temple is going to be unique in the way they do things, like all churches, synagogues, etc. The most important thing is your attitude, which sounds like it is very good. Just enjoy the experience and follow along with what everybody else is doing. You sound like you are coming from a great place of compassion for yourself, which is a very precious thing. Trust your instincts, smile, and don't worry about understanding everything.

I just came back from a weekend Buddhist retreat, and while I've done several of these, it never ceases to amaze me how wonderful the experience can be. Years ago, it was difficult overcoming self-consciousness when chanting or bowing or doing the wrong thing! Best thing is to just enjoy that we are all there (here) together, trying to make it work and find some peace and happiness. I am grateful because my Buddhist background has made it possible for me to accept my transgender identity without as much suffering as many others. You don't have to be a Buddhist (i.e. take vows) to benefit from or be a member of the community (sangha).

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I picked up a couple books on Buddhism for my Kindle. One is a three part series and free. I did not like it because the author seemed to expect the reader to instantly go from ignorance to totally devoted. I quickly removed that book from the Kindle. The other book is "Buddhism for Dummies". I find it much more appealing because the authors aren't trying to convert me. They are taking it slow and teaching what it is all about. I also picked up a book on meditation.

Also I contacted the Buddhist Meditation center, via e-mail, about wanting to join the Tai Chi/ Qi Gong class. I was very modest and truthful in my letter, meaning I let them know I am trans. I don't like to hide things. And if they don't accept me, I've saved a lot of time and worry. I'm waiting for a reply.

Jenny

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I received an e-mail from the abbot (look it up ;) ) at the temple. He was very friendly and welcoming. Plus he stated that that they do not judge based on someone's lifestyle. I did find that mildly offensive. But again he meant no harm and the statement was said out of ignorance. Perhaps I have something I can teach him as well.

Therefore, I signed up for the Tai Chi (Kung Fu) class tomorrow evening and am naturally nervous. I don't know anyone there, it's something new, and it's the first time I've ever been in, and taken part, in a Buddhist temple. BTW this meditation center is a Tharavada Buddhist school. It is the oldest surviving Buddhist school.

My next door wants to with me to class. He grew up as an American Indian and into spiritual living. So I likely won't be the only new person going and at least I will know someone. Still I'm sure I will make new friends very quickly.

I have a feeling this class is going to be taught at a high level and I can't wait. Maybe a year from now I will be the next female David Carradine. :thumbsup:

Love,

Jenny

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I just got back from a meditation session at the temple. 20 minutes sitting, 20 minutes walking, 20 minutes sitting.It was eye opening in how the mind fades out of the discipline before even realizing it.

The most interesting thing happened right after the session was over. After showing my respect to the monk, he personally came up to me and invited me to stop by and ask any question I have and also was willing to answer any question I had atm. I told him I was studying about Buddhism right now and would ask questions later.

There are many things I like about their philosophy, especially having loving kindness and compassion for yourself (something I really need) and the same for others. Plus I like the calm and peaceful feeling that comes from visiting the temple. As long as I feel it is beneficial to my growth, I plan to continue going; even though some of my beliefs don't match theirs.

There doesn't seem to be any problem with my transsexuality there.

Jenny

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Guest Jenny C

Great !!! ;-)

Meditation is an incredible gift that is not taught enough... We should learn it when we're young...

Might your path be one of self-discovery and enlightenment, of calm and peacefulness, of equity and serenity.

Jenny

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Guest Gregg Jameson

Hi Jenny!

I am enjoying reading about your experiences and your discoveries within Buddhism.

I was very excited when I'd first learned about Buddhism, as I'd felt like I was finally "home!"

All I had learned, and continue to learn, has been immensely helpful to me in my everyday life.

I continue to review teachings and continue to try to do my best to live in the present moment and to also have a truly joyous, peaceful life. :D My life has never been the same, for which I am eternally grateful!

I have incorporated practices and teachings from many different religions now, as I see tremendous value in so very many!

This has clearly helped me to live my life more fully.

I look forward to reading more about your experiences!

Your posts are so joyful, your spirit so kindhearted.

Love your smile, too! :D

Thanks so much for sharing with all of us!

Enjoy life!

Brad

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest Juniper Blue

Jenny, you inspired me to search for a new Buddhist Temple in my community. The one that I occasionally visit, is with Thai Forest Monks and has no English meditation or instruction. I found a Zen center (just 20 minutes form my home) that has both Chinese and English classes and offers classes in Buddhism which are free! Thank you sister for motivating me to explore this new option and to deepen my practice and understanding of Buddhism!

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