The Buddhist Temple was great. Waking up at 350 AM to attend the morning prayer was worth the interrupted sleep. It was my second favorite experience thus far since we have been in China. The first was climbing the mountain. The prayer ceremony lasted for what felt to be about an hour. I was unsure because I did not have a watch, but time was no worry as the event was enjoyable.
The ceremony proved to be mesmerizing, surely because the Buddhist prayer ceremony was a foreign concept to me. I never witnessed anything Buddhist like before. My pre conceived notions of Buddhist life where, that the majority of their time was spent meditating and doing menial chores, which served to sustain their lives. To me the event was a rare phenomenon that one must get on camera but since the temple did not allow cameras in the temple, I’m assuming for sacred reasons, I was only able to capture the event in writing. It seemed to me as if there were about 50 or 60 monks, give or take, participating in the ceremony. They chanted this beautiful humming sound, which we would later find out was an Indian language. The monks all had yellow/ orange robs on. A minority of them had brown sashes which served to signify their rank as acknowledged Buddhists. There was one monk who wore a red sash. This monk was described to us as being the commander of ceremonies, a position which he holds for 3 years.
We ate breakfast with the monks after the prayer. When we arrived at the place for breakfast they had the tables set for breakfast. About halfway during the ceremony about half to a third of the monks had taken leave, I assumed they left for the breakfast preparations. A few monks walked around with buckets of food, ladles, and rolls on hotel pans, which they served to us. I had my morning staple—soy-bean milk—in one bowl, a variety of vegetables in another, and the dreaded rice porridge which I had been avoiding since day one after having discovered its flavorless taste.
After having eaten breakfast, we meet with the chancellor of the Buddhist Temple. Apparently the temple also doubled as a school for training potential Buddhist monks and for educating them in various fields. At the meeting we talked about the Buddhist school and its students whom were also monks, some aspects of the Morning Prayer Ceremony, and of the Buddhist principals. It was interesting to hear the Buddhist principals straight from the Chancellor. Usually I learned about them through texts, and by the reading on Chinese Buddhism that Dr. Forest had given us days prior. I rather enjoyed the perception of the Buddhist Way as being the conquering of emotion rather than an ambiguous conception of the separation of desire for worldly things. For me the Buddhist goal became re-defined as being: to achieve a full self consciousness in order to control emotions.
This was definitely a life experience that I feel as though I gained enlightenment from. For the very least self control and self awareness was stressed in my mind as being important virtues