A Visit to Dae Yen Sa Temple
A welcoming sign.
This article was written awhile ago. Some things have changed a little over time and many other activities have remained the same. Yoga is sometimes an independent experience during open temple time. During certain times of the year Master Dae San offers Dharma talks on Saturdays complete with an interpreter. This writing was originally done to provide information to those wondering about visiting the temple.
Life is crazy, frantic, wonderful, and even darn hard at times. Saturday, however, is a wonderfully warm day in Connecticut. Pushing towards the middle of November, that is a treat where I live. Today is a day to go out and let all that warm sunshine in. Since I have nothing scheduled for a change, and am more free than usual, I do something special. All my usual work gets pushed aside. That is special for me in itself. I decide to visit Dae Yen Sa Temple in New Hartford, Connecticut. Friends have invited me there in the past always emphasizing how it is, "...a real Buddhist temple."
Learning and expanding ones experiences are often wonderful opportunities. At times, they are definitely character building "difficult," causing blushing and making a person feel three times too small. Today my visit keeps pace with the wonderfully, sunny day and I feel just a little taller for it. Prior to going, I do my homework for the people who are asking me about the Buddhist experience. My brother often attends Buddhist temples, so I ask how does one go about doing this? My brother is quite a talker and an even bigger writer and I figure he can make it easy. His only response is, "Be sure to take your shoes off." I read a chapter in a book that informs concerned people about how to go about respecting religions and their ceremonies, but it is more background rather than the actual process. I really don't think it even mentions shoes. I obtain the temple schedule from the internet. Sunday is the special day for Korean services. Korean services are actually performed every day in Korean language. Saturday and Wednesday is the "American Buddhist" schedule.
Armed with the schedule and other information from the site I set off on my journey in my car, "The Little White Bull." (For anyone who does not know me well, I name all my cars.) Despite my best intentions to be a perfect visitor, I do probably what a lot of people do when they are trying to be so precise... I goof up. I miss the turn because the sign near the main road falls down. I am half-an-hour late for the first class, driving in past the beautiful stone sign for the temple, and the classic Asian rock structures. I am not paying attention to my second error-- blasting the radio. "Oooops!" I say to myself as a turn off the thumping rock song whining about "no huggy, no kissy until I get a wedding band..." I jump out of my car and slam the door. Oops again, I sure hope that temple has some descent sound proofing. Quickly looking through the glass as I go along towards the main building, I see everyone is in the large temple and not the other smaller structures. After all this, I do at least remember to take off my shoes and quietly tiptoe in. I am still under the impression that shoes are important. Diamond mind is probably important for large gatherings, so you can find your shoes again too. Thankfully, there will be no problem here. It is a nice small gathering inside.
Perhaps I am not yet the greatest guest. The yoga teacher is the perfect hostess allowing me that gentle space to recover rather than start off with a wilt. She kindly invites me right into the class despite my lateness. This is truth in advertising. Their website states, "You can come in at any time; don’t ever think you’re late. You can only be on time at our temple." How wonderful is that!?
One of my burning questions about attending the Buddhist temple is, "What do I need to bring." This question starts to receive answers at the first class too. I go to where the mats are in the closet for the yoga class. Of course the best part is that the class itself is wonderful! I have some past exposure to yoga and this time, I realize that each teacher has a special energy that they add to their teaching. Some classes are very technical, others are fun, some are happy. Leonora, whose spiritual name is Ji Yen Sunim, has a class that "sings" with warmth. (The people serving at the temple receive a special name followed by Sunim which means monk.) It is not one of those "way too easy" classes either, since a person can perform to their own ability and flexibility. There is intoning of a syllable together, rubbing our hands and releasing energy in prayer. They refer to what we do as a "Cooking" or Karma yoga. It has been so long since I have held a syllable like that with others, I realize I miss that wonderful harmonizing experience and all the chi heat in my hands. Our voices together remind me of my new singing bowl.
The area where walking meditation is performed. The structure itself contains special relics.
Sue Yen Sunim busy working away. I thought I would like a better photo, then I realize that she is captured in her finest form of taking care of us in this one. After getting to know her better, I realize she is a wonderful example of feminine power.
Dae San Sunim is the Master at Dae Yen Sa Temple. He is holding the meditation posture we use today.
The classic rock structures.
'Jesus Would Support Palestinian Statehood' - *Jesus Would Support Palestinian Statehood* Editor's Note: Carl Medearis is an international expert in Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations and is...
5 years ago