International Buddhist Temple
The International Buddhist Temple is a Chinese Buddhist Temple run by the International Buddhist Society. This temple is situated in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. The monks basically practice Mahayana Buddhism but the temple is officially open to all the visitors of all religions and cultural backgrounds. The temple is also visited by the monks affiliated to Theravada Buddhism.
The International Buddhist Society is a non-profit organization registered as a Canadian charity. The main purpose to establish this society is to sponsor the charitable programs both in Canada and abroad.
Historical development of International Buddhist Temple
The Buddhist monks from Hong Kong, China were thinking about building Chinese Buddhist temple in North America. Therefore, in 1979 two Buddhist donated land and funds to the cause of building an authentic Chinese Buddhist Temple in North America. To fulfill this objective Ven. Guan Cheng and five other individuals established International Buddhist Society in 1981.
International Buddhist Temple was officially opened to the public after two years, right after the main Hall was completed.
Architecture of International Buddhist Temple
The temple is built in the most authentic structure of traditional Chinese imperial style in North America. The International Buddhist Temple features golden tiles on its two-tiered roof, flared eaves, and two scholar's courtyards. The premises of this temple also consists of classical Chinese garden with lotus ponds, twin gazebos, rock landscapes, and a stone bridge. The edge of the pond includes the flowing Wisdom Fountain. The people believe that the water from this Wisdom Fountain has cleansing properties and other benefits as well. The temple premises also consists of Siddhartha Gautama Pool. This pool includes nine white dragons which spout water towards the sky.
At the center of the temple, there is the Main Gracious Hall which houses five great Buddha statues and statues of Bodhisattvas. The statue of Buddha Sakyamuni is the largest one among other Buddha statues in North America.
Across the Main Gracious Hall, there is the Seven Buddha Pavilion in the worshiping Square. Among them are the four Heavenly Kings and the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara with a thousand hands and eyes.
Other notable halls are Thousand Buddha Hall, Ksitigarbha Hall, and Meditation Hall. There are also smaller shrines on the grounds.
Buddhist art in the International Buddhist Temple
The wall facing the garden displays the mural of Amitabha Buddha. The mural has also engraved the Buddha's name as a reminder of the Mahayana goal of rebirth into the Amitabha Buddha's Pure Land. It was seen that the Venerable Guan Cheng has an interest in gardening and landscape. Thus we can see the best arrangements of flower around the temple and as well as in the garden. It is said that these designs were designed by the abbot with both Chinese tradition and Buddhist aesthetics in mind. We can also see bonsai, and Buddhist idioms carved in the stone.
The entrance of the International Buddhist Temple is inspired by Deer Park because it was where the Buddha gave his first sermons to his followers. Therefore, it consists of gentle slopes, trees, and artificial deer.
The devotees that visits the Buddha Temple venerate the Buddhas and Bodhisattavas by making contributions to the temple. They believed that with the contributions to the temple, they are supporting the Sangha and spreading the teachings of the Buddha. The contributions to the Bodhisattvas also express their wishes to acquire the respective qualities. For example, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is the embodiment of Compassion, and helps individuals overcome troubles and acquire health and happiness. General Guan represents loyalty and righteousness and people believed that contributions to him will bring protection from harm, illness, and evil.
The Sangha holds daily prayer sessions and special ceremonies in the Main Gracious Hall.