Four Temples and An Academic Experience of Aesthetics and Asian Religions

“The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

I realized this after our tour to different temples last year. This paved way for me to a broader perspective about some of the major religions in the world. It gave such enlightenment about the very essence of all religions, be it Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism or the Bahai Faith.

When I first set foot on Ocean Sky Monastery, Hindu Temple, Sikh Temple and Bahai faith, I realized that my mindset was indeed wrong that my Born-Again Christian religion must be the best- and that other faiths were somehow inferior. Now I see how naive I was. I became enlightened how other religions come as one, that they are all God-given, that they are branches of the same majestic tree. Despite their differences, a religion has its own fundamental truths with mutual love, fellow feeling and surrender to the Almighty.

This temple tour gave me the opportunity to experience and to appreciate the beauty of Buddhism meditation, known as Zen Meditation. We were thought that Buddhism cannot be practice without mindfulness. It has three overarching purposes. First is to know the mind, to train the mind and finally to free the mind, to completely free yourself from any affliction. After doing the meditation, I was so blithe in particular ways: more appreciative of beauty, feeling more distance from ordinary anxieties, feeling more kinship with other humans and with other forms of life. The scene had morphed magically from a source of sadness to a pleasure to behold. I let go of this melancholy feeling which I got from the physical world and as I examined this melancholy while my eyes were closed, suddenly it just seemed like physical waves moving slowly through my body- nothing more, nothing less, not even good or bad; now its emotional content disappeared. Transient and superficial feelings are stripped away. One thing I feel pretty sure of is that, if more people did meditation like this, there would be more happiness, and more peace of mind.

Ocean Sky Monastery, San Juan, Manila

Ocean Sky Monastery, San Juan, Manila

TENETS. I memorized this; one of my guiding principles in life.

TENETS. I memorized this; one of my guiding principles in life.

Students were listening to   a brief lecture on Zen Meditation.

Students were listening to a brief lecture on Zen Meditation.

While a tour in Ocean Sky Monastery has given me so much peace and calm through meditation, a visit to Khalsa Diwan Indian Temple was what I appreciated and liked the most. It is the oldest Sikh Temple in the Philippines near the corner of Pancho Villa and U.N. Avenue Streets in Paco, Manila. This Indian Sikh Temple in Paco is covered by tall vegetation and humble in appearance- which reflects mainly about one of the Sikh religion’s basic tenets: humility.

I would say that it was very fascinating to learn about Sikhism and eventually my fear of the turbaned Bumbay turned into one of admiration and respect. Their philosophies and beliefs such as treat everyone equally and worship one God retained in my mind and I must say that I share with them the same beliefs that my religion has taught me for many years.

The visit was a memorable one, highlighted by meeting with several of the Sikh elders and faithfuls. Prior to entering the temple, I removed my shoes and wear a veil or a handkerchief as a sign of piety. A faucet and soap is also provided at the base of the marble stairs. We were obliged to wash and clean our hands and feet before going up to the worship hall and I felt like that it is a proper thing to do when entering a holy place.

After a not so long discussion in the worship hall, we headed back to the first floor particulary in the langar to get a free meal. Langar is the temple’s free kitchen. Here, anyone is free to partake of the kitchen’s cooked food like curry, pita bread and the champorado which I personally called “white champorado”.

First time to eat "white" champorado.

First time to eat “white” champorado.

Going on a fieldtrip like this is a great way to take a break from studying so hard and much importantly to immerse ourselves to the real thing. This temple tour gave me a full understanding that we do really have different and overlapping beliefs because of the faith we profess. But then, we use these beliefs to guide personal relationships and behaviour and to help explain reasons for human existence as well.

With Kasaysayan 2 classmates at Sikh Temple.

With Kasaysayan 2 classmates at Sikh Temple.

Buddhist Monk.

Buddhist Monk.

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