Thien Phuoc Temple, Canley Vale
One of the wonderful things about the Cabramatta area is the quantity of small house Buddhist temples that serve the local community.
These places normally house one or two monks or nuns in a regular weatherboard house, and have a membership of 15 or so families who support the temple.
They are riots of colour - each room transformed into a different shrine or prayer hall.
Unfortunately they also tend to be magnets for the nasty bully-boy tactics of local government.
Thien Phuoc temple, a wonderful, quiet little place that backs on to a local reserve, is currently being threatened by Fairfield City Council, which seems intent on harassing these small community resources while large-scale clubs and developers are given carte blanche to wreak whatever havoc they can afford. It's a disgraceful situation.
I have watched these small temples being singled out for over fifteen years now, and I will never tire of defending them. The presence of gentle Buddhist monastics, the occasional sound of a bell drifting out from a meditation hall - these things are deemed dangerous to the community, while pokie-palaces are allowed to expand constantly, new extensions constantly opened, graced with the smiling faces of local politicians.
But for the time being places like Thien Phuoc temple struggle on, offering prayers for the neighbourhood grannies and solace and support for the various crises that arise in the ordinary people's lives.