Buddhist Temples

Posted on March 31st, 2014 by

Throughout our tour of several Buddhist temples, we witnessed both the cultural and philosophical practices of Buddhism, which we had spent prior weeks learning about in class. We started our morning off at the Mahindarama Buddhist Temple, which is rooted in Sri Lankan heritage. There we enjoyed the elaborate decorations, art, statues, and Buddhist stories depicted in a series of figurines.


A reclining Buddha at the Mahindarama Temple

       Our next destination was the famous Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist Temple in South East Asia! Located on a hillside, once you reach the various level of temples you can see fantastic views of Penang.


Inside one of the lower temples at Kek Lok Si

We eventually (after many, many staircases)  made our way higher and higher into the various segments of the Kek Lok Si Temple. One of my personal favorite moments was once we reached the Pagoda.


The Pagoda!


Haley and Jen at the top… they were a bit faster than me with that last flight of stairs.



Liz, Visha, Joey, Jena, and Kris at the top level of the Pagoda.

After the Pagoda we took a cable car to the very top of Kek Lok Si to the statue of Kuan Yin. Unfortunately the statue was under construction during our visit. Nevertheless, the view from the top was incredible.


Our final view at Kek Lok Si!

Our last destination for that morning was the Bodhi Heart Sanctuary. After a rather bumpy car ride down a dirt road, we finally arrived at the sanctuary where our Buddhist professor works. Much more secluded than the other temples, the Bodhi Heart Sanctuary definitely focused more on the philosophical practices of Buddhism rather than the heritage. This sanctuary, although simpler than the previous temples we had encountered, still was just as beautiful in its own way. Adjacent to a jungle, the sanctuary offered its space to various groups for retreats, meditations, community events, and even two children’s homes for impoverished youth. One could definitely get a strong sense of community that this place had fostered for many people.

Ficus religiosa at the Mahindarama Buddhist Temple in Penang.

Ficus religiosa at the Mahindarama Buddhist Temple in Penang.

Earlier that morning at the Mahindarama Temple we had come across the Ficus religiosa, or Bohdi Tree. “Bohdi”, which translates to “awakening”, signifies the historical importance of this particular type of tree, which is where the Buddha supposedly reached enlightenment. What makes this tree distinct are the veins that surface on the top of the leaves. While having a conversation with our Buddhist professor, he explained that the veins on the Bohdi Tree leaf represent the channels of love and peace. These channels create the connections of joy and compassion that are available to all of us. Connecting the Bodhi Tree that we saw at the first temple to the end of our morning at the Bodhi Heart Sanctuary, I felt that the significance of the Bodhi leaf had been very much incorporated at this last institute.



One Comment

  1. Kay King says:

    What a great day you all had! :)