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What it was like to visit a Buddhist temple on Chinese New Year

March 14, 2014, 8:28 pm | This story has an Influence Score of 758

By Fffrenchie

I met my wife in March 1999 in Toronto. She had immigrated to Canada from Asia several years prior to that event.

Religion has never been an issue for us. I was raised Roman Catholics but eventually migrated to a body-mind-spirit philosophy that she ended up embracing, while I respected her Buddhist views. Our ideologies have always co-existed nicely without any friction.

And yet, I had managed to stay away, for the most part from her temple, which she only really visits once yearly, on Chinese New Year -- which is today, February 31, 2014.

Yesterday, I offered to drive her there (today) with her sister. My plan was to wait for her in the car while I would read my favorite magazine about sound engineering -- something I find truly relaxing.

However, when we got there, surprisingly, there was some parking available -- which at another hour today could have proven more difficult. And so I thought, "What the heck, I'll check it out".

Buddhism has been practiced in Canada for more than a century. There are now many temples in our country.

We went to one called, "The Cham Shan Temple".

Upon entering there was a strong, yet pleasing smell of burning incense.

We proceeded to the basement where various shops of religious artifacts could be found, as well as a canteen. I bought the only lunch available -- vegetarian -- and it was surprisingly palatable. It felt like the type of food that would be appropriate for a monk to eat -- someone who had detached themselves from materials possessions and the longing for earthly pleasures. Still, within this context, it was quite good.

To be honest, I think if I ate that for 2-3 weeks straight, I'd had have a ying yang breakdown, go crazy, head for a bar and do something stupid; all in order to balance myself back :)

Then we proceeded to the main level and entered the temple. There was an abundance of monastic personnel. They were reverent and many respectful bows were being dispensed.

Worshipers travelled from one religious display to another, both indoors and outdoors, performing rituals and carrying incense sticks.

It seemed a typical visit would last well under an hour, but that's just an impression, I could be wrong.

One observation I've made, is that a strong peacefulness pervaded the place, as though there suddenly should be no need to worry about the affairs of daily existence; and a sense of hope, instead, prevailed. In other words, it felt very safe in the Buddhist temple today.

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