Going to temple
My spiritual journey over the past fifteen years or so has been mostly through Buddhism, though as a child and teenager I was strongly interested in Christianity, and also had a lot of exposure to the Hindu tradition through the yoga school my mother and her friends were involved in. For many years I was something of a Buddhist fundamentalist, with very rigid ideas of what was valid and invalid in spiritual life and highly judgemental of those who didn't want to identify strongly with a particular tradition. Now of course I AM one of those dilettantes, strongly interested in the meeting of Christianity and Buddhism in Western culture and excited about the possibilities of deep religious pluralism and the burgeoning Interfaith movement.
But my heart and affection are always with Buddhism, and I always feel enormous affection and nostalgia if, as I did yesterday, I see a Buddhist monk or nun walking down the street. So much of my 20s was spent in the company of monks and nuns!
So I try to go to temple at least once a week. Admittedly I rarely ever go now to sutra chanting or dharma talks, for various reasons. But I still like to sneak off to the nearby Chinese temples to offer incense and prayers, and occasionally I'll drop in on one of the various monastics that I know for tea and cakes and chat.
Yesterday I went to Kwan Yin temple, which is close to my house. I've always felt a great affinity with Kwan Yin, and love to re-connect with her in a more meaningful setting. The temple itself is more a community meeting house than religious site, and is a wonderful collection of buildings kitted out in the kind of faux-chinoise style much beloved of Chinese communities abroad. This is a picture of the verandah of the community hall, watched over by a marble lion, and a cement Doberman and giraffe. Go figure.