My experience at the temple was incredibly eye-opening, not just to the Buddhist religion itself, but also to the diversity that is present in Salt Lake City. Though I try to do my best in realizing the culture present in my own surroundings, it can often times slip by unnoticed. Going to this temple allowed me to see how varied our own culture here in Utah really is. Sometimes it can seem so small to me, but this experience ultimately broadened my horizon. It opened my mind to the perceptions and beliefs of others and how much they may or may not influence a person’s life. It also showed me that religion is an enormous piece of the complex puzzle that makes up every culture.
This was definitely one of the most intimidating assignments I have ever done in both my college and high school schooling. Because of this, I have greatly benefited from stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing something entirely new. Not only did I learn to appreciate religion for what it is, I also learned to take these experiences in stride. Through both the paper and the class itself, I can honestly say that I view the world with a new light and have discovered an interest that I wish to share with others. Above all, my perspective on the beliefs that people hold dear to them has transformed and I am finally able to see the beauty that has been there all along, even when I just was not able to see it.
My host-brother, Keito, and I posting our wishes at a Shinto Shrine in Osaka, Japan.
A display of wishes at the Shinto Shrine.
An Excerpt from "The Vajrayana Buddhism Experience"
Vajrayana Buddhism is considered to be one of the three vehicles that one can abide by in order to achieve enlightenment (the others being Hinayana and Mahayana). Vajra is the symbol of both the thunderbolt and the indestructible material from which it was made (www.religioustolerance.org), and yana is directly translated as being path or vehicle. This is why Vajrayana Buddhism is often referred to as the “indestructible path.” According to their beliefs, it is also said to be the fastest way to achieve Nirvana, which contributes to one of its other names, the “direct path.” This form of the religion has a strong presence in the belief system of Tibetan Buddhism.
I was fortunate enough to attend a Tibetan Buddhist service at the Urgyen Samten Ling, a temple located on the outskirts of downtown Salt Lake City. It was a traditional Puja service, conducted primarily in Tibetan, and provided great insight to the beliefs of those that participated. Through the interpretation of various symbols, rituals, and the means of achieving enlightenment, the practices and beliefs of Vajrayana Buddhism were clearly exemplified during my incredible experience at the Urgyen Samten Ling temple. ...Continue Reading