Where Is The Temple?

Last Sunday our congregation held the first service in our temporary location. After forty-seven years, we are replacing our present building. The building was old when we moved in and time has not been kind. Buddhism speaks of the impermanence of all things and our temple building is a good example. Since it was the second Sunday of the month, our discussion group met after service. I posed the question, “Where is the temple?”

During the service, our head minister spoke of how the old building had become our home. Leaving it caused sorrow. Now, we would meet in the temporary location for up to a year. By the time we return to our new building we will have begun to think of the temporary space as our home. This is our nature. We are comfortable with what is familiar and shun change. Our attachment leads to our suffering. But if the old building isn’t the temple, and the temporary space isn’t the temple, where is the temple?

Fundamental to Buddhism are the Three Treasures. These are the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The Buddha is the teacher. The Dharma is the teachings or truth. The Sangha is the community of seekers. In most religions the deity is the most important aspect, with the teachings second. The purpose of the followers is to live the teachings to serve their God. Buddhism is different. There is no deity to serve. The Buddha was a person to whom we express our gratitude for the teachings. A few months ago, our assistant minister spoke of the Three Treasures. He felt that the most important is the Sangha. In the Sangha the other two come alive. Without the Sangha there is no expression of the teachings. So, where is the temple?

Buddha traveled throughout India. Wherever he spoke, that was the temple. Christ taught in towns and villages. Wherever he spoke, that was the temple. Moses brought the commandments down from the mountain. Wherever they were presented, that was the temple. Deities, teachers and prophets have no meaning until they come alive in the individuals who are the Sangha.

Too often we confuse the buildings, ornaments, symbols and rituals of our religions with the true message. We mistake our desires for our needs. We become attached to these desires and, when not fulfilled, we suffer. The Buddha showed us that our ego driven desires are the cause of all our suffering. Strip these away and we discover the wisdom and compassion of the universe existing within us. When we gather to hear the teachings, we draw upon the experience and insights of others. Together, we are better able to overcome our individual suffering. Where is the temple? It is in the Sangha, the community seeking to overcome suffering through wisdom and compassion. Wherever they come together, that is the temple.

For more information about Buddhism and meditation in Kenosha contact me at BASEWI@aol.com.