Middle Land Chan Monastery is a Buddhist Temple I visited in Pomona. Middle Land Chan Monastery was built in April of 2008 and was founded by Master Wei Chueh, who is also the founder of Taiwan’s famous Chung Tai Chan Monastery. Wei Chueh wanted a Buddhist temple the inland empire to broaden the Buddhist religion and wisdom. Middle land Chan Monastery welcomes any race, gender, or religion and is free to any visitor. They offer free meditation classes of all levels and age groups. They have different days throughout the week, when they teach classes in Chinese or English allowing the communities preference.
The classes teach the following: history of Zen Buddhism, the four noble truths, the noble eightfold path, six perfections, emptiness and the middle way, and the principle of casualties. Once you have completed the advanced classes you can move on to the Sutra study classes which teach more in depth about the above categories. These classes are two hours long for twelve weeks. The first hour is meditating and the second hour is teachings of the Buddha. Ceremonies are also offered with reservations. All ceremonies and classes are taught by Abbess Jianxiang.
Dress Code is your choice but is recommended to be omfortable and non-slippery socks. Other meditation clothing is provided if wanted. Middle land Chan Monastery is a very good place to come if you are interested in Buddhism and want to learn their ways. I enjoyed my time spent there learning their culture and feeling welcomed the entire time. When I arrived to Middle Land Chan Monastery, I was welcomed right away. Unfortunately since I hadn’t signed up for the classes when the beginning level students started their classes months ago, I was unable to participate and could only observe.
Before stepping foot into the temple ou must remove your shoes and put on the slippers they have available for you. As everyone was arriving you can tell they all had been attending the classes for a while, because everyone was being social toward one another and talking about previous lessons. After everyone showed up, we moved our way to the meditation room, which was filled with floor mats and stool mats against the wall, for those who need better back support. Before stepping into the room you needed to take off your slippers and bow down before entering. Next they have you go to the Buddha statue bow down and light incense.
Everyone went to their assigned mat, and Abbess Jianxiang went to the front of the room. Abbess started speaking and told everyone to relax and concentrate. Everyone is sitting with their legs crossed and their eyes closed. Abbess told them to have straight posture and count your breath intakes. Music was being played in the background and Abbess continued talking for a little while about meditation. For the next forty minutes everyone was meditating. The purpose of meditation is to free your minds of negativity and to be spiritually awakened. While meditating you are to have good posture, concentrate, and think of only positive motions.
Doing this helps you have a better outlook on life and to understand life naturally. With enough practice your meditation will take you into an energized and positive state of mind. Meditators told me meditating makes them feel relaxed and forget all about their worries. After meditation everyone went to the room where noble truths and the noble eightfold. Learning about this was interesting to me. I thought it was good how they were being taught not too in depth since this was a beginner’s class but they were taught in a way that would fit their understanding.
Group discussions were taking place and I found it interesting how involved everyone was getting and trying to fully understand Buddhism. People shared stories, asked questions, and gave feedback all throughout the lesson. After class, a break for lunch was given. There is a variety of lunch options throughout the week. The day I went we had veggie fried rice. This contained white rice, mushrooms, radishes, carrots, and lotus seeds. The food is prepared by the workers. The meal options they do have are all vegetarian meals. Taiwan Buddhist have to abstain from meat, which is why their eals are vegetarian.
The food is all organic and tasted delicious. I was expecting more of a traditional meal that I haven’t tried before, but even though veggie fried rice is a common meal, I still thought it was appetizing. While I was driving to the temple, the atmosphere wasn’t what I expected. I expected it to be in a field and secluded from everything. Instead it was gated in a neighborhood. Once you drive in there is parking and two statues that look like dragons. The temple wasn’t too big, before going inside the temple you need to ring a bell to unlock the doors. The inside looked very cultural.
There was painted pictures on the wall, small statues on shelves, and a lot of incense burners. The whole temple smells like incense burning. The meditation room has rows of floor mats used for meditating and along the walls there are rectangular stools with mats on top, which are used for people who need better back support while meditating. The floor is wooden and looks very shiny and clean. The walls were plain dark brown. In the back of the room there are three statues of Buddha that are on top of an altar. The people wear brown long cloth robes. They all have their hair shaved really short.
Their voices are very soft and quiet. They seem to be very conservative and isolated from society and that all they do with their free time is Just practice Buddhism and not get witness the outside world. Before coming here I had a lot of stereotypes of Buddhism. To me Buddhism was what I saw in the movie hangover. For instance I thought all they did was meditate, practice karate, and vow to silence. I thought the only reason people would choose to be Buddhist is because they were born into that culture or because they were hipsters trying to be cool. Coming to Middle Land Chan Monastery taught me the truth behind
Buddhism. Most of the information I learned about Buddhism was through the hand out booklets, and dvd I was given. What I learned is Buddhism is not Just a religion but also a way of finding yourself spiritually. Buddhism teaches you how to be responsible with your life and to live it to your fullest potential. I learned about the four noble truths. This is in order suffering, where the suffering originated from, to end the suffering, and the process to end the suffering. The four noble truth originally talks about dukkha but because this was a beginner’s class the teacher alled it suffering which has the same meaning.
For those in advanced classes, they would call it by their true meaning and go more into depth about the meanings. Instead of telling us what each of the noble truths are with definitions and words, they would give examples and try to make it more simple for our understanding. The noble eightfold is self-awakening and learning who you are, spiritually and mentally. The main thing I learned about Buddhism is not only should you have a positive outlook on life but you should also have a realistic look.
Thinking positive throughout he day can actually help you have a good day but if you are being over positive, and hoping for unrealistic things to happen it most likely won’t. This is because you are hoping for too much rather then realistic hopes. Having a balance of positive and realism can help you into having a productive day. Buddhism is not Just a religion but it is also a way of life. It is a peaceful way to live and helps you have a new outlook on life. Instead of seeing only the bad things in life you are able to see the beauty of nature and to appreciate the life you were blessed to have.
To show your appreciation to Buddha every morning the Thai Buddhist bow down three times, burn incense, and give water and food. They do this because These are considered precious in their culture. I think Buddhism differentiates from other cultures religion in many ways. Buddhism does not have a God that they believe in, who punishes or rewards you through your actions. Buddhism is mainly self-taught. There are people who teach you about Buddhism but the only way to actually understand it you need to participate and practice it.
The people who teach you about Buddhism mainly teach ou the history and few practices for it, but the way you take it in is up to you. Buddhism is more learning about yourself and how you think you should act, rather than other religions when they tell you how you have to be and set guidelines. There is no right or wrong way on how you take in Buddhism. Like Buddhism Christianity also believe in happiness for human beings as their golden rule. Like other religions there is an emphasis on love for everyone in mankind. There many similarities and difference in the Buddhist culture and religion, but every culture is unique in their own way.