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Issues in Religion and Culture buddhist Temple

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Issues in Religion and Culture Buddhist Temple

How to be a Perfect Stranger

Being a “perfect stranger” can be more difficult than it sounds when it comes to attending a worship service that is different than your own. There is also a lot of necessary research that is involved in order to be the “perfect stranger”. This past week I had the opportunity to visit the Samarpan Hindu Temple in Philadelphia, where I became the perfect stranger in a culture that I knew little about before taking this class.

The first thing that I did in my research was to find out the dress code and any other rules that I should know about in attending the service or “Puja” as they call it. I felt like the dress code was one of the most important rules of the Temple to be followed because I didn’t want to offend anyone or become a distraction for anyone by the way that I was dressed so the knowledge of rules helped me out a lot. I learned that shoes are not allowed inside the Prayer Hall, all adults are requested to refrain from wearing short clothes in the Temple, it is necessary to leave the premises neat and clean as in any other Temple or Church, and finally they ask that you actively participate in the meditation session. Before the session began, I attended the orientation class because I wanted to make sure that followed all of the rules and also so I would know what to expect.

The orientation class is intended to be accessible to anyone regardless of previous meditation experience or lack thereof. Although many of the people who go through the orientation are beginners, experienced meditators who have not previously practiced at the Samarpan Temple would still benefit from going through the orientation. The orientation took just under 30 minutes and covered two of the basic "tools" of sitting meditation: correct posture and breath counting. Chairs were available for anyone who wishes to sit in a chair. I learned that you should sit in a posture that encourages mindfullness but not one that causes unecessary discomfort. The orientation also covered chanting meditation. In chanting meditation they use some traditional Buddhist chants (from Japan and Korea) as a form of meditation. It can be viewed as a noisier and more active form of meditation than sitting meditation. As the orientation session concluded we all were encouraged to ask any questions that we might have and someone asked, “Is Zen Meditation a Religion?” And the response was that Zen meditation practice does not include any form of religious indoctrination, nor does it require any particular religious affiliation. While Zen comes from the Buddhist tradition, Zen students can be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, atheists - whatever (even Buddhist).

According to tradition, the Buddha was the first Zen Master so practicing Zen does imply accepting the Buddha as a teacher, but not to the exclusion of other teachers like Jesus or Lao-Tzu, which I thought, was very interesting.

After the orientation session was over it was time to put what I learned to use about “Silent Meditation”. Silent meditation consisted of 25 minutes of sitting, 5 minutes of walking, and another 20 minutes of sitting. During this time there were people chanting through microphones, some had their eyes open and some closed. While I had my eyes open I noticed that all of the men and women around me were fully clothed with little skin being revealed, I noticed a variety

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