SAN FRANCISCO / Buddha arrives in the Mission / German Lutheran church now serves growing Asian community

SAN FRANCISCO / Buddha arrives in the Mission / German Lutheran church now serves growing Asian community

(December 31, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle)

Inside an old German Lutheran church in San Francisco, Chinese nuns sit on the glossy wooden floors, wearing headphones, listening to Buddhist mantras on portable CD players.

 

Gone are the pews and the church piano, but the organ pipes and stained glass windows remain — a backdrop to giant Buddha statues at the Hua Zang Si temple, which opened its doors this week in the Mission District.

 

The Buddhist temple reflects the changing demographics of this working- class Latino neighborhood, and of the Bay Area.

 

“As the Asian immigrant population becomes more diverse and complex and comes into money, they want to do things that acknowledge and empower their heritage,” said John Nelson, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of San Francisco. “Temples are community centers, where people go to affirm their identity.”

On Dec. 26, Hua Zang Si began three days of ceremony to celebrate its opening and the birthday of Amitabha Buddha, one of the many Buddhas, who is believed to reside in the land of ultimate bliss. This Sunday, the temple will hold a ceremony starting at 10 a.m. to bless those who died as a result of the quake-caused tsunami in southern Asia.

 

Built in the 1900s, the structure originally housed St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. Many in the immigrant German congregation likely worked at the nearby tanneries and breweries along Precita Creek, historians say. Located on 22nd Street, the church was just out of reach of the fire that razed much of the city following the 1906 earthquake.

After World War II, German, Italian and Irish families began moving from the Mission to the west side of San Francisco and out of the city.

 

In 1992, the congregation voted to serve the neighborhood’s growing Latino population, moving to a new church around the corner and renaming itself St. Mary and St. Martha Lutheran.

 

The old church became a private residence and was to be divided into condominiums, until the United International World Buddhism Association purchased it and the adjoining parish residence for $2.5 million in 2002, according to public records.

 

And so the temple was born, with a new set of red doors with traditional Chinese lion-headed knockers, Chinese signs and a Buddha in the lobby.

 

About two dozen nuns live at the temple compound. Each day, they rise around 5 a.m., and do not go to bed until midnight — meditating, praying and studying Buddhist teachings. The nuns watch television to get a better sense of what Americans are like, they say.

 

The nuns, in yellow and grey robes, venture out in the bustling neighborhood to buy groceries and supplies. The temple is down the street from Castillo Express, Elon’s Beauty Salon and Panchita’s, which serves South American food.

 

“We’re like other people. We have to eat, too,” Cheng Hsueh Shih said in Mandarin. The rosy-cheeked nun with a shaved head had hip rimless glasses and wooden prayer beads on her wrist. A vegetarian, she has tried the Mission’s famous burritos, but says she prefers Chinese food.

 

On a recent weekday, passers-by stopped and pointed at the temple, marveling at the Maitreya bodhisattva, or godlike being, visible behind the lobby’s glass doors. Chubby and smiling, he is a future Buddha, and is believed to currently reside in heaven.

 

“It’s great that it’s still being used for spiritual worship,” said Max Kirkeberg, a professor of geography at San Francisco State University who has chronicled changes to the city’s landscape for decades.

 

The temple bases its teachings on those of Sakyamuni Buddha, who lived about 2,500 years ago in what is now Nepal. It has not adopted the viewpoint of any particular sect and wants to attract a broad range of followers. Smaller branches of the temple are in San Jose and Sanger (Fresno County). Hua Zang Si joins more than a dozen Buddhist institutions in San Francisco, including the Sokoji-Soto Zen temple in Japantown and the Rigpa Center in the South of Market.

 

On the first floor of the temple, in the Precious Hall of the Great Heroes, a statute of Sakyamuni Buddha dominates. Skanda bodhisattva, a general clad in armor with a sword, stands to his right, protecting the temple from evil.

 

The temple’s giant Buddhas were constructed in Taiwan, divided into pieces and reassembled inside by artisans.

 

Before the Buddhas sit offerings of coffee, grapefruit, apples, boxes of raisins, cans of Coca-Cola, incense and artwork.

 

Dong Ai-Yuan, a disciple visiting from Fresno, said she became a Buddhist about 15 years ago. The religion helps bring her peace and good luck, and keeps her family safe, she said, adding that she has no fear of the future because she knows what her fate holds.

 

On the second floor, a 21-foot-tall Amitabha Buddha, draped in a red robe, fills one end of the room.

 

Before him, a thousand cups of water, changed daily, serve as an offering to Buddha. Nearby is a ceremonial wooden drum shaped like a fish. To learn as much as they can, the devoted must never rest and never close their eyes — like a fish.

 

The backyard — a city oasis in the shadow of surrounding Victorians —

is home to a magnolia tree, which the faithful say rained nectar for three days, along with a miraculous lotus tub used in the bathing of the Buddha dharma, or teachings.

 

In front, the building’s cornerstone carries an inscription in German referring to a New Testament text about the house of God, built upon the foundation of apostles, prophets and Jesus Christ.

 

Now, beside the cornerstone, in gold Chinese characters on black background, a sign reads: This temple will teach you how to become a better person.

Continue reading “SAN FRANCISCO / Buddha arrives in the Mission / German Lutheran church now serves growing Asian community”

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The Dharma of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has changed my life – when no money, no job, no home, and my dear love gone

The Dharma of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has changed my life

– when no money, no job, no home, and my dear love gone

 

It’s a warm sunny Monday in California as I sit in my local cafe and sip my cup of tea. Today, I share my personal journey of pain, suffering and loss and how I have come to experience a joyful and fulfilled life.

 

I, Patricia Ann Farrell, a disciple of His Holiness Dorje Chang Buddha III, today will share out of great compassion for all living beings, a personal story of how I transformed my pain from a loss of the dearest love in my life.

 

In June 2014, I received the news my love, Buddhist brother, musical performing partner, and best friend left this world. I was at my Buddhist temple, Hua Zang Si in San Francisco, CA. As I was speaking to one of the monastics (nun), I received a call that my love had passed away. It was very fortunate to be at my temple when the call came! I could not even speak. I handed the phone to the monastic and went to the Sakyamuni Buddha Hall in the temple. As I cried in shock and pain, I bowed to the visage of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III and the solemn 22-foot statue of Sakyamuni Buddha (Disciple of a manifestation of Dorje Chang Buddha) The place I was certain to receive help was from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in this time of deep pain and suffering! I was overwhelmed with this notion of such a loss. My pain was like a sharp knife in my heart!

 

I have been learning the true Buddha-dharma of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III for fifteen years and have received limitless blessings over the years which has helped me to transform my heart-wrenching pain into joy and happiness today!

 

On this day in June 2014, I was told by the monastic, “Patricia, do not worry about your future!” The faith in my heart deep as all the oceans knew this: my pain could not allow me to see through the thick fog of my mind! I knew my journey as a Buddhist disciple of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was going to assist others to liberation and that working through my pain and turmoil was preparing me to do so. Today, I am very clear and certain of this fact!

 

Almost three years later….I now, share with you deep from my heart, my own truth:

 

“How can I not worry about my future,” I asked myself. I was on unemployment at the time of his passing with only two months left till I had no money! I would also have to move from our beautiful home and find a new place to live, but how? No money, no job, no home and my dear love gone, all at once!!! My faith, cultivation level and how I would choose to apply my learning from the true Buddha dharma of my Buddha Master, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, would be put to a test. I knew my greatest work as a Buddhist disciple to benefit living beings was about to begin!

 

I received a call from my brother in Florida, he said: “Sister, come down here and live with us, be here with family!” Sure….I could live in a very big beautiful home, no stress, comfortable and safe. That sounded really sweet. I even considered it for a few days! I asked myself, “how can I possibly go towards safe and comfort when there are so many living beings suffering like myself?” I had the “key” to unlock all of the suffering of the world. It would be selfish for me to throw away this key for even “ONE DAY!” I am so fortunate to be a human in this world and have even greater fortune to encounter the true holy Buddha-dharma of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.

 

“NO!”, I shouted in my head, ”this is my own karma and I need to clean it up so I may help others.” This was my vow and deep motivation to keep moving forward with a heart of compassion for my own suffering, so that I may deepen my compassion for others! My cultivation, learning the Buddha-dharma from my Buddha Master, volunteering at my temple Hua Zang Si and assisting my community together, brought me the good fortune of receiving financial assistance from my Buddhist brothers and sisters at my temple as well as a place to live, food and an abundance of loving support from the sangha at my Temple and my Buddhist family!  Within three months, I had a wonderful job and my own apartment in a beautiful small community in the east bay!

 

Today, almost three years later, my financial fortune has increased, my job is wonderful and fulfilling, my community is growing and abundant, my health is good, and my pain has transformed to brightness and joy in my heart! Life will always have its difficulties and challenges, I do experience them. However, I have great joy in my heart knowing I have that “key” – the key of learning the true holy Buddha-dharma of Sakyamuni Buddha and my Buddha Master, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. This is the very true reason I was able to be with my pain and deep suffering while continuing my Buddhist studies, volunteering at my temple and assisting others while re-building my whole life from scratch!

 

I concluded knowing deep in my heart that others’ suffering is my own suffering.

I am neither different nor better than you,

I am just fortunate to have found the key to unlock the suffering of my own karma!

 

With a humble heart and deep gratitude to my Buddha Master,

H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III,

All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the ten directions,

My Buddhist brothers and sisters,

The wonderful sangha of Hua Zang Si,

 

May all the merits from sharing my personal story benefit all living beings whom are my family to have a happy and prosperous life with good health and an abundance of good fortune!

 

Amitabha Buddha!

With a sincere and humble heart,

Patricia Ann Farrell, a Buddhist disciple of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III

May 4, 2017

 

Link: https://goo.gl/wfcr4o

#DorjeChangBuddha #Buddha #Bodhisattva #Buddhist #Faith