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            When leaving the temple, I felt relaxed and stress-free.
The visit made me want to expand my knowledge about other religions to see what
practices and other things they do. It was very interesting learning new things
about other religions while also being a great place to experience. Buddhism
conveys the message of love and kindness and I believe we need more of that in
our society.

            “The axis
mundi is a symbol representing the center of the world where the
heaven (sky) connects with the earth. Different cultures represent the axis
mundi by varied symbols such as a natural object or of a product of human
manufacture.” (New World Encyclopedia, 2016) The axis mundi for the
Theravada Buddhists I believe would be their altar where they prayed and did
their rituals daily.  Their altar
connects them between their god and themselves while they pray.  With their social order and moral beliefs, I
looked more into the monks. Ideally, monks own only a few things, such as robes
and an offering bowl. Buddhist monks shave their heads because they are not
concerned with outward beauty, but with developing their inner beauty and
spiritual lives. The shaven head is a reminder that they are a part of their
beliefs. Offering food to monks is a part of Buddhism. They do not beg for
food, but take whatever is given to them. This practice helps the monks to be
humble and gives the opportunity to the people in the community to give back to
others. You can prepare food donations for the monks at this temple, yet they’re
only accepted in the morning hours. Along with this, Buddhist ethics follow the
Five Precepts. These are “to abstain from taking life, to abstain from taking
what is not given, to abstain from sensuous misconduct, to abstain from false
speech, and to abstain from intoxicants as tending to cloud the mind.” (Keown, 2013)
In Buddhism and other religions, they emphasize mediation and concentration techniques
which the Temple provides teachings in Spanish and English on Saturdays and Sundays.

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            Theravada Buddhism believes that Nirvana is the ultimate
goal and this is the reason why Buddha began to teach. Even though in Buddhism,
no God speaks so the Ultimate Being is considered their God that speaks. Theravada
Buddhists would say he is only a man with insights into the meaning of life.
They follow the “Doctrine of the Elders” which is considered the oldest record
of Buddha’s teaching. In their language called Pali, the Buddha describes the
Four Noble Truths.  “The First Truth
identifies the presence of suffering. The Second Truth, on the other hand,
seeks to determine the cause of suffering. The Third Noble Truth, the truth of
the end of suffering, has dual meaning, suggesting either the end of suffering
in this life, on earth, or in the spiritual life, through achieving Nirvana.
The Fourth Noble truth charts the method for attaining the end of suffering,
known to Buddhists as the Noble Eightfold Path.” (Buddhism: An Introduction, PBS) Dharma reveals the Buddha’s understanding of life
and his talks were collected and turned into books called Sutras. There are
many Sutras meaning Buddhism does not have a single holy book.  Also in Buddhism, there is the Noble
Eightfold Paths, which helps us understand the Four Noble Truths so these two
go hand in hand. “the Noble Eightfold Path… , includes the important ideas of “right
action”, “right livelihood”, and “right speech.” (Richter)

            We sat on the mat and prayed in the ways of Buddha by
placing both hands in front of us, then on our forehead, and last placing both
hands and forehead on the mat for a total of three times. These served as ways
as paying respect to the Buddha for all his wise teachings. The monk then
continued to tell me about the teachings and the commandment of the Buddha’s
significance. After, we showed me the rest of the temple where I saw pictures
of the monks, where they ate, and so much more. I said my thanks to the monk
then proceeded to exit the temple getting one last good look at all its beauty.

            At first sight, the temple gives off an oriental vibe.
The architecture of the building consists of elaborate designs that have an
Asian influence. The agricultural appreciation of the temple includes plants engulfing
the temple. The best way to describe the building is that it’s an enormous
white structure with gold details. Two gold colored lions stand posted in front
of the entrance showing as a sign of protection. This exact color scheme of red
and gold is found inside the building. This partly refers to the beauty aspect
Kent Richter has in his book “Religion, A study in Beauty, Truth, and
Goodness”. The colors and agriculture play a part in the beauty the temple
offers. Immediately as I entered the building, I noticed a monk. The only time
I have ever seen a monk was in movies, so this was truly exhilarating. I was so
excited to see a monk that I introduced myself to him immediately and told him
my purpose for being at the temple. He seemed very pleased to know that I was
interested in learning about Buddhism. He told me to take off my shoes and leave
them on the shoe rack because it is one of their guidelines you must follow. Then
he gave me a handout with a plethora of helpful information.  He then started to show me around the temple
and explained all the wonders it has. First, he led me to a part of the temple where
there was a statue of the Buddha surrounded by other miniature statues of
Buddha with coins and flowers. Traditional offerings are to show respect to the
Buddha, which include food, water, incense, flowers, and light from candles. In
front of the statue, there was an ash box with incense sticks standing out.  Incense along with flowers and fruit represent
some gifts that Buddhist practitioners offer during prayer. The monk spoke to
me about how the ceremonies began such as the lighting the two candles to start.
These ceremonies refer to the rituals of Buddhism, which explains what Kent
Richter calls the Goodness. Then he made me take off my shoes and told me to
grab three incenses and explained what each one meant.  They are the three treasures of Buddhism;
Dharma (the teachings of Buddha), Sangha (community of Buddhist nuns and monks),
and the Buddha (The Enlightened or Awakened One).

Being raised in a
nonreligious Christian and Catholic house, my family and I attended church on
Sundays but once I started working at the age of 14 that tradition stopped. My
mother is the only one in my household that still prays. Since I recently
realized the actual purpose of religion, I wanted to find out what other
religions believed in. I have vague knowledge on other religions such as Islam and
Judaism but had no understanding on what Buddhism, an Asian religion, really
is. Since I am now taking a religion class, I found this research paper the
best opportunity to really learn about what Buddhism really consists of. To go
in depth with my research, the site I visited was the Theravada Buddhist temple
Wat Buddharangsi of Miami. It practices the sectarian form of Buddhism called
Theravada Buddhism. This temple is located at 15200 SW 240 St Miami, FL 33032.

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