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The element of religion can be evident over the world and throughout the history of mankind. It has developed to become one of the largest factors that influences the culture, beliefs and traditions of humanity. Therefore, from the civilization period to the modern era, religion is evident at all levels of life cycle. It is the pattern of practices and beliefs which are important in bringing out the specific characteristics of a community that are regarded as ultimate and secret part of life (Van 5). In order to cognize the essence of religion, it is crucial to integrate into traditions of a given community, analyze them, so that first-hand experience can be acquired. In this regard, I together with a fellow student visit the Wat Buddha Smakidhan Temple with a fact finding mission concerning the religious organization as well as the activities of the Columbus people. This paper gives a description of the experiences that we underwent during our visit to the Wat Buddha Smakidhan Temple.
Description of the visit to the Wat Buddha Smakidhan Temple
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The Wat Buddha Smakidhan Temple is located at 3296 Watkins Rd. Columbus, OH 43207 US. It has serene and quiet environment which can be compared to a retreat center. On entering the temple, there is a comfortable area that is used by visitors as a resting place. The main meditation hall is located inside of the building, having neatly laid cushions on the floor. There is also such religious artifact as the white statue of Buddha with flowers arranged close to it, accompanied with small votive candles on one end of the statute. The flowers known as the lotus are taken from the muddy waters of Columbus and act as a symbol of Buddhism. There are a hand-bell and a drum that are strategically located in the front area of the meditation hall as they used in the course of the prayers during the day.
The experience in the temple was one of the best I ever head. It gives an opportunity to interact with people of different culture and religion including men, women and children. The monks play a specific role in taking care of the Wat Buddha Smakidhan Temple. Men are responsible for cutting the grass around the building, cleaning its interiors and taking an active part in the ceremonies. There are also laymen and laywomen whose role is to prepare foods as the monks pray. The women are responsible for preparing plates with food for the monks contained in alms bowls. A majority of the participants are monks while the number of nuns is lower. Children serves as the monk’s attendants while helping in carrying alms bowls and cleaning the rooms where the monks stay. Women wear white robes covering their heads and the rest of the body.
Elements of the event
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The typical day at the temple started at 5 a.m., followed by prayers at 5.30 a.m. At 6.30 a.m., the monks bring the alms. The sermons are conducted in the main temple which is prepared in advance by middle aged women. While praying, everyone is required to put the palms together as crouching three times. After the prayers, meals are served and monks taste the food from each plate before the rest can start eating it. Some of the rituals they take include pouring holy water in memory of the deceased. There is no music within the precincts of the temple, with the exception of drum and a hand-bell.
Analysis of what was learnt from the visit to the Wat Buddha Smakidhan Temple
Given the research that was conducted with the purpose of studying the behaviors of the monks and other people in the temple, one can assume that the activities and actions that were done were in compliance with what was expected (“Wat Buddhasamakidham” n.d.). To my mind, this experience was very useful as it enabled me to understand the speecific features of the people who attend the temple.. They can be depicted as god-fearing ones with a unique culture that is characterized by the combination of earnest morality and deep meditation. Also, the experience was fairly distinct from other events taken place in Christianity and Muslim. The main idea that I understood after visiting the temple is that person should follow his/her own heart and wisdom but not what the teacher always says. In addition to this, the specific community does not worship or obey a given God but pays allegiance to the Buddhist image with regards to what it distinctly represents.
The experience at the Wat Buddha Smakidhan Temple was very unique taking account the nature of the worship through which the monks and participants go. In other religions, people believe in a supernatural being, while the religion of the Columbus people is based on the belief that the Buddha exists. The misconception that was developed before the visit to the temple is that the individuals in this community worship statutes and pay allegiance to the existence of a supernatural being. However, the obtained experience opened up the understanding such supposition was wrong. This characteristic makes the worship experience distinctly Buddhist. The religious aspect was brought out by offerings of incense and flowers to the Buddhist statute. Also the prayers that are conducted by this particular community are of the form of a private conversation with a supernatural being represented by the statute.
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The experience gained at the temple has a clear connection with the Religious Studies and Theology topic. This is because it was related with religion and idea of how specific communities depict religion. Also, given that theology involves the study of religious beliefs and the nature of God, this experience was crucial in representing the specific religious behavior, traditions and beliefs and how it shapes the way of people’s life.
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