Today in school my Comparative Religions class took a field trip to a Buddhist Monastery. It was absolutely amazing. Our guide, Rinchin, was a soft-spoken woman who might have been in her forties. Her hair was cropped short, like a buzz cut and she wore a three-piece outfit: a purple skirt; a yellow sleeveless shirt; and a maroon blanket sort of thing that was wrapped around her, overtop.

The Monastery was a Mahayana Tibetan Buddhist temple, and Rinchin along with 6 others lived there. It was on a large piece of land, with mostly forest still left on it and paths all through the trees.

She took us for a walk to visit on of the Buddhist shrines, called Stupas. This particular stupa was really big, maybe like, four people tall. It was mostly gold colored and she said that it was dedicated to healing mental and physical illness. Rinchin told us that the land and the temple were open to anyone who wanted to come visit; and some of us walked around the stupa to get a feel for it all. It was really cool. You could hear the birds and crickets in the trees, and the shrine was decorated with offerings of food, drinks, stones, and maybe some jewelry. There were plants all around it, lots of flowers. I think I saw some lavender.

Then we walked back to the temple and visited "The Teaching Room", where the throne for the Bodhisattva (teacher, spiritual leader) of the temple sat, along with her picture since she wasn't there at the time. The Teaching Room is where the Bodhisattva led the students, and taught lessons. The room had lots of decorations, one of which was a bookcase type of thing that held lots of different statues of the Buddha; and scrolls, which contained sayings and teachings of the Buddha, Siddhartha Guatama. It also had lots of crystals, (the temple had crystals in lots of rooms), a large sand mandala, more shrines, and a carpeted floor. Yes, the carpets where important, since we were required to take our shoes off upon stepping into the temple. We also visited the prayer room, which had lots more statues of all different varieties, tapestries, more crystals; benches for people to sit and pray at took up the center of the room.

The whole temple smelled of familiar incense, though I'm not sure what kind it was. Rinchin said they used Cedar (I think) for the outdoor shrines. After we finished look around the temple we went to, I guess the community room to eat lunch and talk with Rinchin. We asked her about her beliefs and such, and the whole experience just left me with a really cool feeling, very peaceful like. And I just remembered what the incense reminded me of: my room.

Written by ArielMorgan.

Essentials of Buddhism