Fo Guang Shan Temple, Toronto chapter of Buddha’s light International Association, opened its doors during the Culture Days weekend this September to welcome people from all faiths and walks of life to immerse in this ancient practice of Humanistic Buddhism. The temple has a Buddha’s Main Shrine, a library, a small Buddhist art gallery, a teahouse, a bookstore, a conference room, and a meditation hall.
The temple also offers Dharma classes in English to introduce core ideas of Buddhist training and philosophy to its pupils. They are designed for learners from all kinds of cultural and religious backgrounds. The classes include stress reduction meditation to help improve quality of life. Meditation helps to develop inner peace, wisdom, and a more positive attitude. It teaches us to overcome difficulties with the right mind-set, thereby reducing unnecessary pain and suffering.
The Doors Open experience was a memorable one for all those who made their first connection with this abode of peace and calm in Toronto. Friendly and knowledgeable staff and volunteers were at hand to lead guided tours of the building’s many offerings, explaining the services available and the significance of the artwork present. The art gallery housed Buddha in its myriad incarnations: seated on a cloud, having become light by shedding all anxiety; lying in a restful pose of “Nirvana,” the state of being one with the ultimate force of energy; or holding a lotus, the symbol of peace and tranquility.
Visitors were also welcomed into the teahouse and offered various varities of fruit and green teas, classic infusions that calmed the mind with the fresh aroma of fragrant leaves brewed in hot water. Delicious nut cookies were also served with utmost hospitality. Many visitors lingered in the library to browse the selection of books available in English and Chinese languages. Simpler versions with more illustrations were available for children. The temple also offers Buddhist Wedding Ceremony, Funeral Service, and Buddhist Hospice Counseling Service.
Vinita Kinra is a Toronto-based author, editor, speaker and activist, best known for her short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, launched to critical acclaim in 2013. She is also a contributor for India’s largest English daily, The Times of India.