Dear Readers: My husband and I were so honored to be invited to take part in the Guru-Puja or worship of the guru at the local Buddhist Academy last evening. Around 20 locals were invited to attend along with a large bus load of Taiwanese Buddhists from New York City and lets not forget the 20 or so Buddhist nuns.
The evening began as we all met at the trailer that is located at the entrance of the grounds.We were shown a video of a very nice but short biography of the guru who has left this mortal world in 2004. He did some amazing philanthropic works from organic farming to taking loving care of the handicapped in Taiwan. He seemed to be quite an impressive and compassionate human being. After our half hour orientation we took a short walk to the temple. First we were to remove our shoes and place them in the plastic bags that we had been given at the orientation,we then entered into a very large temple room where hundreds of monks were seated on the floor all facing the front altar. My first impression was that surely I just walked through a magic door and entered Tibet. The altar held many golden deities of Buddha and others Gods. At the corner of each altar was a statue of a fierce warrior brandishing a sword. He was the protector of the deities. The altars were piled high with offerings of food,flowers and other multicolored patterned intricate decorations. Pictures and videos were forbidden. A woman's voice was speaking in Taiwanese over the speakers. She must have been saying something wonderful because I witnessed many monks discreetly wiping tears aside.After each prayer the gong was struck and the long horns blown. During one offering all the ladies surrounding me placed their fingers in a very intricate mudra. I tried to copy the finger placements but did not succeed very well. A bowl of chips came our way and we were to break the chip in half and place the other half back into the basket to be given to other entities. Then a bowl of juice was passed around and the ladies use their ring finger to take a drop, but the males use the second finger on their left hand. Then a bowl of very tiny tofu pellets was passed around and we were requested to take one and eat it.
I found that everyone was very friendly, kind and considerate.
Although I couldn't understand the language I could appreciate the sentiments and the mood of the gathering. The only distraction was my Roman Catholic friend who was sitting right next to me and was certain that God was going to send down a bolt of lightening to strike her dead because she was participating in the worship of false Gods. I asked her to kindly move over a bit.....just in case.
About a half hour in I really needed to go to the ladies but waited patiently until the end of the service. When it was over I asked the interpreter if she could show me the ladies but she said that I would have to wait until all the nuns and monks exited the building. OK then..... I waited and waited then she said that the ladies was located in another building altogether but first we would have to have our picture taken with the head monks in front of the altar . Alrighty ....by now I am truly practicing mind and body control.....waiting ....waiting...finally someone almost takes a picture but a cell phone begins to ring and it's in a purse but the lady is handicapped. The phone is located and the bag given to the owner then many..many pictures are taken as one monk at the back of the photographer wiggles his head like a bobble head ....which is very endearing and we all give a smile. We are finally given the nod and now we can go. Apparently all the other ladies had the same destination in mind because there was a lineup. They were very kind and asked me to go first but I declined and waited patiently for my turn. I figured that I might as well continue to use mind control..chant and be happy.
All participants were given paper bags chock full of prasadam. Some kind soul followed us with the car headlights on to light our way as we walked back to find our vehicles. After we were home and happily looking through our goodie bags the phone rang and it was the interpreter just making sure that we had arrived back home safe and sound. That concern for our safe return left a very warm spot in my heart and I went to sleep with a little smile on my face.
Until next time. Hare Krsna