Field Study in a Buddhist Temple

Essay by Kathy227University, Bachelor'sC+, February 2008

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Buddhism is one of the many religions that have traveled westward to the United States, but its ability to change to better fit the people living here has allowed it to thrive for many years. I visited the West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple on Sunday at nine in the morning. The service had the unique ability to uphold tradition and adapt to its surroundings with an hour allotted time. Ritual practice, losing oneself to the ego, and deeds of devotion were fulfilled by the means of traditional meditation, while the preaching of the minister and his importance satisfied social justice and intellectual inquiry therefore upholding five out of the six ways of being religious traditionally.

West Los Angeles had a very small Japanese community in 1926 that practiced Buddhism. They found it hard to continue their practices alone because a majority of their neighbors were Christians; so a group of Buddhists decided to get together and meet every week for meditation, a reading of the sutras, and to recite creeds.

This group then observed how their Christian neighbors met every Sunday at a church to worship, which increased the strength of the Christian community and made it more known to others seeking worship. The decision was then made to meet every Sunday at a temple that will have a minister run service for an hour, reflecting the more western, Christian, “American” way to conduct their religion. An hour allotted time out of the week was very convenient for the working person who had a job and a family to tend to but served as a problem when considering how to achieve Buddhist traditional values, set forth in the earliest teachings, in a mere hour. There had to be an innovation of the six ways of being Buddhist to better...