Monday, March 9, 2015

Temple in winter

The Kadampa Meditation Center is situated on 82 acres in Glen Spey in rural Sullivan County. It features the World Peace Temple, walking trails, a  pond, cafeteria, and a more casual café. Construction took five years and the temple opened in 2006. It was founded in the Kadampa tradition of Buddhism and followers use the teachings to transform daily activities into the path to enlightenment.

Visit Kadampa's user-friendly website and it's packed with information about the center, Buddhism, publications, and upcoming events. They offer day-long, weekend, and weeklong retreats. Sundays at 11:30-1:00 is the weekly Prayers for World Peace service, which according to the website includes a guided meditation, short teaching, and prayers, all with a focus on solutions to problems in daily life, inducing genuine optimism, and increased happiness. If you call ahead and rsvp, you can stay for the $5 vegetarian lunch that follows. The center also facilitates drop-in meditation classes, in locations near and far: Goshen, Saratoga Springs, Scranton, Sparta, and Stroudsburg.

The temple is a spectacular photography subject for all seasons. There's a photo gallery on the website where you'll find images of it surrounded by snow, fog, sunset, flowers and tall grasses. For the taking are beautiful glossy publications. The temple is on top of a hill and is surrounded by a path for a view of 360 degrees. The walking path leads down a hill and comes to an interesting dry stone bridge. Dry stone is a building method in which stones are pieced together without using mortar. Stone walls are the most common dry stone creations, but bridges can be made by strategically wedging stones in a curved arch. The bridge at the Kadampa Center crosses a stream and continues around the ground's pond. 

Enter the temple and the main room is straight ahead. The round space is vast and bright. There are guided tours and you can also purchase a 24-page booklet about the temple including its shrines and ceiling adornments.

 To your left is the café with hot tea, cold drinks, water, chips, baked goods, and more.

The gift shop offers Buddhist art and books, CDs, meditation supplies, postcards, candles, scarves, jewelry, and other gifts. There's even a designated shelf in the corner where people can donate items whose proceeds benefit the temple as well. During this visit I saw it offered jewelry and handmade pottery for tea.

Everyone is welcome at the temple and the staff and volunteers are very welcoming. I've been here a few times and it's a place I like to show out-of-towners, along with the Hawk's Nest overlook. There's lots of history and meaning, so many deities and symbols. I recommend perusing the center's website before you go as a primer, and make sure to plan your trip when the temple, café, and gift shop are open and rsvp for the $5 lunch. Even if you're not a Buddhist I think you'll enjoy a visit which is a feast for the senses.

"Buddhist Temples are representations of a Pure Land of an enlightened being--an enlightened heaven. Whoever sees them immediately experiences peace of mind, or inner peace. When we experience inner peace we are happy, so Temples function to give happiness to everyone, whether Buddhist or not." -Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Kadampa Meditation Center New York:

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