A temple's dream

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014


THERE are many Chinese temples in Cebu City built by the Chinese immigrants to this place. One of them is the Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple located along V. Rama St. Fo Guang Shan means Buddha Light Mountain while Chu Un means compassion and gratitude.

The temple was built in 1988 in honor of the mother of Paterno Lu Ym, Du Ti, who was a devout Buddhist.

There are two main buildings in the temple area, the Kwan Yin Shrine and the Di Zhang Shrine. The main temple is the Kwan Yin Shrine in honor of Kwan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy and on the two pillars of its Great Mercy Hall are engraved these verses by the Venerable Master Hsing Yun: A mind of compassion is like the sun and the moon, may all human beings have lesser suffering. A debt of gratitude is like the mountain and sea, may peace prevail in the universe.

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The Di Zhang Shrine was established on Sept. 1, 1990. Di Zhang is a Buddhist deity who is said to have made a vow that he will not become a “saint” or “Buddha” (which simply means the enlightened one) unless he can save all the souls in hell. On the 1st floor is the Di Zhang statue, he who is the Buddhist savior of souls. On its two pillars are these verses by Venerable Master HsingYun: Million devotees cultivate good dispositions, blessing all beings with kindness and compassion.

Devotees remember to bow and pray to Buddha, know how to practice to give in all directions. The third floor of this building is the tea room or conference hall. Also here is the Ludo and Luym Family Memorial Hall. The second floor is for praying for the deceased. Here is found the temple’s columbarium and the statue of Amitabha Buddha of the Pure Land.

There are other buildings in the area: a guest house and the monks’ residence and dining hall which serves only purely vegetarian food. There is enough space in this about two-hectare enclave for other activities, especially in Chinese New Year celebrations which can offer cultural shows, games, vegetarian food sampling, fireworks. It is also the place where the Cebu Symphony Orchestra has its weekly practice.

According to Susan Tan, the temple gives bundles of joy to the neighbors every Christmas. They have since also included activities every first Sunday of the month to encourage interaction between the temple and its neighbors in the barangay. A teacher or master will teach them good grooming, how to set a table, flower arranging, taichi, meditation and to follow the three acts of goodness: Do good deeds, speak good words and think good thoughts. They have also conducted medical and dental missions for the barangay.

And because Hsing Yun is very much into culture, arts and education, the temple conducted photo contests and song-writing contests (to the verses of Ven. Master Hsing Yun). The last resulted in Siddartha the Musical which has had more than 50 performances in Cebu, Manila, Bacolod and Iloilo, and Taiwan and in Fremont and Los Angeles, California, USA, and is expected to travel to other places where there is a Fu Guang Shan temple: there are over 200 of them around the world: in the USA, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Africa.

Siddartha the Musical has been such a huge success with the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist temples and to its head, Hsing Yun, that his dream for Cebu is to build a world-class cultural and education center to showcase the talents of Cebu as well as to nurture them. In time, that dream will be realized and the Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple will then become a cultural landmark of Cebu City.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 19, 2014.

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