Kadampa Buddhist Temple
A Kadampa Buddhist Temple is a special, holy place, where we can receive blessings and powerful imprints on our minds that lead to deep inner peace in the future.
Our Temple houses beautiful shrines in which you can see magnificent statues. Just seeing these blessed statues places powerful imprints on the mind to experience deep inner peace in the future.
International Temples Project
The International Temples Project (ITP) was established by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso with the vision to build a Kadampa Buddhist Temple in every major city in the world.
These Temples are dedicated to world peace and everyone is welcome to visit them and enjoy the peace and tranquility they provide.
“Just looking at a Temple with a happy mind places good imprints on our mind and brings inner peace. Through the power of this special object, problems such as anger and attachment are reduced.” Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
This Temple is surrounded by the eight auspicious signs:
- The precious umbrella
- The precious fish
- The precious vase
- The precious flower
- The precious conch
- The precious knot
- The precious victory banner
- The precious wheel
These show us how to progress along the Buddhist path to enlightenment.
1 The precious umbrella
The umbrella symbolizes the umbrella of the Buddhist community and teaches us that those who have the sincere wish to progress on the Buddhist path to enlightenment should first enter the Buddhist family, which means taking refuge in the Three Jewels and becoming a Buddhist.
We are not saying that Buddhists are good and others are not but what this is saying is that those who wish to progress along the Buddhist path to enlightenment should enter Buddhism because outside Buddhism you cannot progress along the Buddhist path!
So we must go inside without hesitation, without doubt, with a hundred percent trust, enter and then go in one direction, and then every year, year by year, month by month, you can make progress. Therefore the first important thing is to enter Buddhism and then understand how to begin, progress along, and complete the stages of the path to enlightenment.
2 The precious fish
The fish symbolize harmony and peace, and teaches us that under this umbrella you should always live in harmony and peace. Whenever you see a fish, please remember this, it is very important.
Not only Buddhists, every community, society, and family, whether big groups or small groups, every individual should live in harmony and peace, of course that is important. So the two fish playing remind you, show that they are so happy, peaceful, and harmonious. Even though they are animals they are so enjoying themselves with harmony and peace, so of course we need to!
3 The precious vase
The vase symbolizes wealth and teaches that Buddhist practitioners always enjoy the inner wealths of your faith, your moral discipline, your study and practice of Dharma, your benefiting others, your sense of shame, your consideration for others, and your wisdom. There are seven wealths.
Of course normally everyone regards external wealth, money, and external conditions as important but Buddhist practitioners believe that internal wealth is more important because this wealth makes your mind happy all the time and helps in this and future lives.
The first wealth, faith in holy Dharma, makes our mind peaceful, calm, and pure so that we perceive everything as pure. Then there is no difficulty or basis for experiencing problems because if the mind is pure we perceive everything as pure. If the mind is impure, negative, angry, jealous, and other wrong views, then we perceive everything bad, everything unpleasant, and then criticism, arguing, fighting, disharmony and all other difficulties arise from the impure mind. Faith makes our mind become pure so therefore we become pure beings.
Whereas faith in holy Dharma makes our mind become pure, the practice of moral discipline makes our physical and verbal actions become pure. In this way, these kinds of inner wealth transform you into a pure, holy being.
Study and practice of Dharma is the most important wealth because wisdom is very beneficial. It protects you and others, it teaches you everything.
Benefiting others is giving material things, Dharma teachings, love, and protection or fearlessness – any kind of help to others. These actions come from our good heart and are such wonderful, beautiful internal qualities.
The fifth wealth, sense of shame, is a special inner mental quality that always thinks, for example, ‘I cannot do such bad actions because I am a Buddhist, because I am a practitioner…’ etc. Or, ‘I can’t kill people because I am a human being,’ ‘I cannot destroy others’ spiritual life, others’ happiness, because I am a spiritual practitioner …’ etc. This is an inner good quality, a very special wealth.
There are many people in the world who destroy others’ lives, environments, and enjoyments due to lacking sense of shame. Therefore sense of shame is a special internal wealth that makes people special great beings.
With consideration for others we think, for example, ‘I can’t do bad actions because other people will suffer. I can’t harm other people because they will suffer,’ – always thinking that others are important. For example, ‘I can’t kill because that being will experience suffering,’ ‘I can’t steal because people will experience problems,’ ‘I can’t destroy others’ happiness because their happiness is also important.’ This kind of attitude is a very special inner wealth. It makes us become spiritually rich.
Wisdom is the best wealth – our best friend. Wisdom is the best wealth because it can be used in any situation, in any country. There is no danger of it being stolen by thieves. Wisdom can be used in any situation. Wisdom is the best friend to help you. It tells you everything that you should and should not do. If you have inner wisdom you don’t need to seek advice from other people; your wisdom tells you everything, your direction, where you go, and so forth.
So the vase symbolizes wealth and teaches us that we should always enjoy inner wealth such as faith and wisdom. We should not grasp too much, hoping for external enjoyments, because we don’t know if these will make us happy or make us suffer. Of course we need human happiness but we also need less grasping, less attachment. Instead, enjoy inner wealth and then there is no danger – you will always be happy.
4 The precious flower
The lotus flower symbolizes purity, which indicates that we need to put great effort into becoming a pure being by practicing the Bodhisattva’s way of life – cultivating and maintaining a good heart and then trying to engage in actions that are similar to those of Bodhisattva. In other words, the lotus reminds us that we should not remain always as an impure, ignorant being, but strive to become a pure being by practicing the Bodhisattva’s way of life.
5 The precious conch
The conch shell symbolizes the Dharma Jewel and teaches us that we should accomplish the Dharma Jewel, the realization of the stages of the path to enlightenment, within our mind. These realizations directly protect us from suffering and problems.
6 & 7 The precious knot & precious victory banner
The knot of eternity symbolizes an uncommon quality of Buddha’s realizations – his realization of omniscient wisdom – and the victory banner symbolizes an uncommon quality of Buddha’s abandonment – his abandonment of delusions and mistaken appearance.
These last two signs together, the knot of eternity and the victory banner, indicate that through gaining the Dharma Jewel, the realization of the stages of the path to enlightenment, we shall attain these two uncommon qualities of Buddha.
8 The precious wheel
The Dharma Wheel indicates that having attained these two uncommon qualities of Buddha we now have the ability to lead all living beings to permanent liberation from suffering, principally by turning the Wheel of Dharma, that is, by giving Dharma teachings. This is our final goal.
So the eight auspicious signs show how to begin, progress along, and complete the spiritual path. First we need to gain the realization of the stages of the path. Through this we shall attain the two uncommon qualities of Buddha; and through this we have the ability to lead all beings to permanent liberation from suffering by giving Dharma teachings, which is our final goal.
Therefore the symbolism of This Temple being surrounded by these eight auspicious signs reminds you that you should put the meaning of these signs into practice and integrate them into your daily life.
About Kadampa Meditation Center NYC
Located in the heart of Chelsea, Kadampa Meditation Center NYC provides meditation classes and teachings throughout NYC and the greater New York area.
We offer evening classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and morning classes on Tuesdays, and Sundays that are suitable for newcomers. Our lunchtime meditations and after-work meditations are only a half-hour long and a great way to get a taste of meditation. We also have monthly introductory classes, Awakening the Heart and How to Meditate, as well as regular day and weekend meditation courses and retreats.