Purpose one: writing a travelogue to describe my various trips.

Purpose two: muse.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Serenity in Saigon Temples

I saw a couple of temples in Saigon today, and had the most serene experience so far. The temples in Hong Kong were impressive, more for their size and design than the peace and solemnity one would expect to find at a temple. The Taoist temples weren't full of tourists, but still bustling with locals that were visiting in a worshipping capacity. That seemed to involve as much hanging out as praying or meditating. Kind of like a modern American church.

I'm no expert, but I find buddhist worship confusing. As I understand buddhism, it's different from most other religions in that it preaches internal spirituality. A sort of extreme existentialism without a divinity. Yet the buddhists are clearly worshipping Buddha. If Buddha himself was a buddhist, surely he did not advocate this type of worldly behavior. Offering incense and other little items such as fruit seems not just orthogonal, but downright opposite to what he taught. I don't see how he could have condoned offerings, a direct execution of gain and loss.

There must be a wide-spread need to worship, since the buddhists seems adamant about worshipping Buddha, whether that is buddhism or not, as he himself taught it. It also seems that all religions suffer from perversion.

The inside of Vinh Nghiem was quite impressive. There was a ceremony going on, and I was not comfortable taking pictures. You can see some here.

The Vinh Nghiem temple and another I went to but didn't get the name

Inside the Jade Empress Pagoda. Small yet elaborate.

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