One of my favorite things about Asia is the temples. I love how ancient each one feels and how the smell of the incense draws you in. Walking onto the grounds I am always calmed. There isn’t any other place that feels as peaceful and I remind myself to attune my mind to the divinity of that space.
On my trip to Beijing, I was lucky enough to visit Yonghe Temple. It is the largest Tibetan Buddhist Temple outside of Tibet. The grounds are extensive and each building is incredibly beautiful.
Walking into the temple felt as though we were transported in time. I couldn’t hear any of the noises from the city and it felt as though there was this protective shield around the temple grounds that blocked out all outside noises.
As we walked around the temple grounds we saw many devotees offering incense and their prayers to Buddha. Despite there being many people there each person looked as though they were in their own world. No amount of people there could distract them from their communion with Buddha. It made me wonder what each person was asking for. We all have different needs and experiences but what connected everyone there were our prayers.
There were many different buildings that housed different images of the Buddha. Each one a different aspect of Buddha. While each one had a different presence to me what felt the same was the sacredness. I felt the peace that Buddha offers. Being in each space made me feel as though nothing else mattered. All the things that I felt were important no longer mattered and felt trivial. It put into perspective what is really important. This helped me to come towards Buddha with a more sincere prayer. At first, I was going to ask for something that, on reflection, was superficial and worldly. But when I came towards the Buddha and made my offering of incense and my prayer cloth I knew I couldn’t just say anything. I knew I had to say something that mattered. I cleared my mind and my prayer came to me. I knew it was what I was being guided towards so I was able to say what I truly wanted for myself. When I left the building I didn’t worry about whether or not my prayer would be answered. I had already asked and I left the desire of what I had asked for behind.
As we were walking out of the temple we passed by the gift shop. Something that I always do when I visit a temple is to buy prayer beads or a bracelet. There were many beautiful pieces of jewelry there but none of them were calling to me. My partner saw a jade necklace that she thought was beautiful and I knew I wanted it. I put up a little resistance at first, but I couldn’t take my eyes away from it and I knew that this jade Buddha was supposed to be for me. Now, whenever I wear this necklace I feel as though a piece of the temple is with me wherever I go.
No matter what your beliefs are I think that you can still gain a lot from visiting a temple. Each one is unique and tells its own story. You can see the history of a place and where the people of that place have come and where they are now. Enter into this space with a willingness to learn and you will be blessed from your experience there.