Buddhism and Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll—Part 2

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Guan Her Ng

xyHe Hua Temple’s name was bestowed personally by Master Hsing Yun. The Chinese characters, “荷華,” symbolize the Netherlands and its most famous floral motif, the tulip. In addition, it also represents a lotus flower in a river. The temple’s mission is not only to give the neighborhood color and joy, but more importantly cultivate the Bodhi mind within all sentient beings in Dutch society.

Amsterdam hasn’t completely shaken off its baggage and stereotypes. We must not forget that even though there are unwholesome deeds being done by people in this area, they are sentient beings who simply desire happiness and, from the perspective of Buddhist anthropology, have the inherent capability to attain enlightenment. We need to open our arms and doors to them, but at the same time it’s not an easy task for the temple to persuade them to walk a path of self-cultivation and reflection.

At He Hua Temple, devotees gather on a weekly basis to participate in the Dharma functions guided by monks and nuns. There is a different sutra to be studied every week and occasionally there are meditation sessions too. Most devotees are from a Chinese background, but interestingly the number of local Dutch members is increasing. Master Hsing Yun once said that the temple should be managed by Dutch monastics and local devotees 100 years from now. Localization is the key to plant Bodhi seeds across all continents. Fo Guang Shan is keeping Buddhism simple by propagating the three acts of goodness: “Do good deeds, speak good words, and think good thoughts.”

Europe is incredibly diverse and much effort is required to master its languages and diffuse Buddhism through them. Besides the language-barrier, cultural differences pose yet more hurdles for our Chinese Venerables. Therefore, local Dutch devotees are essential when it comes to supporting the monastics with translation and interpretation, and to also help out with administrative and legal affairs. Some of the masters have learned the local language and don’t have any problems communicating. We can let Buddha’s disciple, the unmatched preacher Purna, to inspire us to acquire the best skills possible to disseminate the Dharma in the west.

Even in an environment where sex, drugs and rock & roll still captivate and seduce, the Dharma will be there to comfort and enlighten the hearts of sentient beings.

What are your thoughts?