Learning From South Phoenix




The Tranquil Haven in South Phoenix


For my first try at a freeze frame I was fortunate enough to be standing in the courtyard of the Buddhist Temple called Chua-Thon-Yen. The name translates into Calm-Village Buddhist Temple and it is a very accurate description of the complex. As soon as I stepped out of the car onto the gravel driveway, a sense of peacefulness washed over me. As I behold the view in my field of vision I am breathless, speechless. The beauty and splendor of this exotic Buddhist temple surrounds me and engulfs the five senses.


I looked around the courtyard and was amazed at the statues as well as the Great Awakening Bell.  The Great Awakening Bell was what I happened to be staring at when it was 1:00 and time to begin our freeze frame. It is rather an impressive sight to behold. It is really more of a sort of shrine with a giant bell in the center, raised up on a dais, which has three steps leading up to the platform. The bell is supported between two pillars with temple dogs etched into the wood on the side. Also, there is a large wooden pole held up by a very sturdy piece of red fabric and this is used to strike the bell at certain times of the day, I assume. There are also prayer flags encircling the entire roof of the shrine.  

As I zoom out a bit, I notice that the serenity of the complex is somewhat tainted with a chain-linked fence and barbed wire. The peaceful tranquility of the compound is invaded by the sounds of honking horns and cars whizzing by begin to quickly destroy my private little world. I whirl around to scowl at the intruders and I am stunned to see an ugly, oversized Circle K sign glaring at me through the beautiful trees of the temple grounds. As I look through the fence I see several cars in the lot being filled with gasoline.  The orange red monstrosity is just another sign of the conflicting interests that are running rampant in South Phoenix.

There is also a lot of construction going on all around the temple.  There was also a car accident in this period of time as well.  Zooming out yet further I see some sort of factory.  I am not sure what kind it is, as I have no knowledge of such things.  It may possibly even be a processing plant of some kind. 

The Temple is not the typical religious sight one would imagine seeing in such a place as South Phoenix as most often a person would see shrines to various Catholic saints just about everywhere.  One can find these shrines honoring many different saints in many yards and storefronts in this area of the Valley.         

This makes me wonder why the Buddhist monks chose this particular location for their temple.  Perhaps they know that in a world as chaotic as the one in which we live today, it does not matter what religion one follows.  Everyone needs to have a place to go for relaxation and to center oneself.  That is what Chua-Thon-Yen is here for I believe.



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