Imagine a peaceful, elegant temple. One which had beauty in and around it. This was the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple, which our year 9’s got to visit and learn about. The outside of the temple had an archway leading to the carpark, with a roundabout and a big tree in the middle of it. Then there were steps leading up to the temple, where we met our guides to help us through the temple. They brought us through the gardens, which were magnificent. Small trees and plants were laid out throughout the outside and on the ground were concrete and grass in between.
The volunteers took us to a room where we did some calligraphy. It started off hard but got easier as it went. After we did that, we went over to the wish bell. A few of my own classmates got to make their own wishes and it seemed really cool. After that, we all sat in the garden grounds and one of the hosts taught us how to meditate and be mindful of our mental state. While we did that I felt like all my worries and stresses were leaving my mind. After our meditation, we got served a vegetarian rice pudding. It had chickpeas, sweetcorn, potatoes, and of course, rice. It was one of the most lovely rice dishes I’ve had.
When we finished the food, we went over to the statues of the Buddha. The Buddha was surrounded by a water bowl and had a scoop for water. This activity was that we would vow to the Buddha the 3 Gs. Good deeds, Good thoughts, and Good words, while pouring the water over each of his shoulders and back. We all took turns in doing that as the host started talking us through the final activity.
We were directed to a room where there were some posters, showing us the Three Gifts and the Four Givings and the police. Why the police? Well, the police were there for community help and they also told us how the police like to follow the 3Gs and 4Gs as well. They showed us a video on the Buddha and how he came to be. How he was born into royalty but found mindfulness and happiness without the riches. The documentary finished, and the police showed us the two sides in decision making, Conscious and Temptation. These were shown to us and how they work by picking students to do skits. I did one myself, as Temptation but lost the improvised fight. The police told us more about the two sides, asked us what we learned from the trip, and if we had any questions for them regarding their jobs. As we asked them and they answered our questions, two of the teachers started handing out some puzzles as a memento and reminder of our trip.
The temple was a beautiful, spectacular place and is a great place to learn more about your peer’s cultures as well as a great out of the class learning experience.
by Em White
On 18 and 19 May the Year 9s visited the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple in Flatbush. We took part in the 3G 4G Festival of Cultural Sharing. 3G means ‘Do Good Deeds, Say Good Words and Think Good Thoughts’. 4G means ‘Giving others Confidence, Joy, Hope, and Convenience’.
We also learned about the story of the Buddha who was born as a prince. As he was growing up, he noticed that many people were suffering so he decided to suffer himself because he felt he was no different from other people despite his status. He wanted to show compassion to others and understand what other people were going through. One day, whilst he was sitting under a Bodhi Tree, he got an enlightenment which suddenly led him to become the Buddha.
We passed through multiple stations, such as the washing of the Buddhist Statue, and vow to practice the three goodness in our everyday life. We also visited the Art Gallery and practiced some Chinese calligraphy with the help of the volunteers. We were taught the ‘One Stroke Calligraphy’ that was invented by the Master Reverent Hsing Yun. This is a simple writing technique that joined every single character from a phrase in one stroke.
While doing a tour around the temple, we learned the importance of the 3G 4G Practice. Twice a day a bell and a gong would ring reminding us to stay mindful and keep practicing the 3 Goods and 4 Giving’s. Five students from our group were lucky enough to ring the ‘wish bell’. We were told that a wish is a goal and not something that will magically happen and that in order to make it manifest, we have would have to achieve it ourselves. Overall, the experience that we had was very interesting. It opened our minds to a different culture and religion in our community that also came with many surprises to most of the students.
We all learned something new whether it was the 3G 4G, One-Stroke Calligraphy, Meditation, or even making our wishes come true. I’d personally love to visit the temple again and on behalf of the school, thank them for showing us the different religions in our community.
by Isaac Lee Sang