So for the weekend of 9/11 our VISTA project required us to participate in some sort of volunteering effort. It just so happened that there was a peace festival in Arlee that weekend at a buddhist garden. Intrigued how a buddhist place of worship ended up in the middle of a reservation, I thought this would be a good opportunity to investigate and learn about a culture I did not know much about.
Friday night we stayed at the Heart View House which is rented out to nonprofits for various events. The house had a beautiful view the next morning of the farms with the surrounding mountains.
The Garden of a Thousand Buddah’s is a worship center for all religions to inspire peace within ourselves and in others. Started by a Buddist Monk named Rinpoche, who is the reincarnation of a beloved monk, as a child he had visions of a temple surrounded by mountains in a golden field. Somehow he made it to Arlee and found this spot surrounded by lotus petal shaped mountains like in his visions. He started a buddist school and has been working towards his vision of building a temple with 1,000 buddahs. So far they have crafted ~800 buddahs. Each buddah has prayers inserted into the statue along with elements from the all of the oceans, several of the highest peaks in the world, and several of the lowest valleys.
The Peace Festival has been held 7 years to promote a spirit of kinship and cooperation in the local community. The festival began with a circle prayer around the statue of Yum Chenmo. Conch shells were used to call the surrounding spirits to join the parade of people as Rinpoche and the other monks prayed. He also appealed to Yum Chenmo that she might open up our own buddah spirits.
Rinpoche and the Village Elder spoke about the importance or respecting others, and the earth. Many other speakers had messages about the dire state of our earth today.
We listened to a few different music groups including a cool band called Alma Desnuda. We also enjoyed ethnic foods from india, vietnam, and tibet. A favourite among our group was the momo which is a meat and spinach dumpling. There was also a chickpea and lentil soup called dahl which was pretty tasty. Here are some other pictures from around the fair.
Sunday we attended a temple service (I can’t remember the correct name for this now) at Rinpoche’s. Walking to his house, it looks like any other house, but in the living room was a temple instead of couches. The service was interesting. One particular point that stuck with me was why we should treat everyone with respect. In the buddist religion everyone is reincarnated upon death into another life. It is easy to love and respect our mothers, or our friends, but hard to love and respect our enemies. But it is possible that our enemies in this lifetime were a mother for us in a previous lifetime. We may have done something to anger them in a previous lifetime and so they are now our enemy in this lifetime (Or our enemies may be reincarnated into our children). In buddism everyone and every living thing is connected, and enemies we make in this lifetime will come back to hurt us in future lifetimes. He also explained how best to create a meditative state, but I will admit it is hard to maintain focus and clarity of mind when one is sitting on the floor for 90+ minutes. The service continued for over 2 hours, at which point we had to leave to drive home.
More to follow (Now that I have working internet again. YAY!)