On Nov. 29, the Buddhist Abbey in Trout Lake welcomed some new arrivals — handcrafted statues and a large bell — all the way from Vietnam.
The statues, save for the Buddha, will provide aesthetics for the new temple, which will be built on the property in the shadow of Mt. Adams in spring 2019. The temple itself will be built around the Buddha statue once it is placed on its foundation.
“We are working with several people on the final design now and hope to have the county’s building department review the plans in February,” said Venerable Thay Kozen, the leader of the Trout Lake Buddhists.
The Buddha statue weighs about 5,000 pounds. Once it is in place it will not be moved again. The new temple was approved several years ago and the Buddhists are starting a capital fundraising project this month. The current temple is on the second floor of a 100-year-old barn which was converted into an apartment when the Buddhists first purchased the property.
“Since many of us are getting older the new temple will be handicapped accessible as well and a single story. We’ll keep the temple in the barn as a meditation practice area. We hope to also construct a larger commercial kitchen to replace our current one and an indoor dining area. Those will be in phases two and three of our building plan,” said Kozen
While the new temple will be built around the Buddha, the other statues will play an important role.
“In our tradition, the statues remind us of great teachers and/or teachings and encourage us to embody those teachings,” said Kozen.
One of the statues is of Bodhisattva, a person who can reach nirvana but delays doing so out of compassion in order to save suffering beings.
“When we look upon this carving, we are reminded of the inherent loving nature that we can manifest into our lives. Our faith asks us to look inside and become the best person that we can become,” said Kozen.
The word Buddha means the awakened one, an occurrence that anyone of any faith can experience. The awakening can be described as the loving and peaceful awareness of inner wisdom of the connected-ness of all beings. These statues encourage those who practice Buddhism to look within their own minds and find peace.
In April 2018, Kozen traveled to multiple countries as part of a pilgrimage to visit Buddhist temples around the world. He visited temples in Japan, where he was ordained, as well as temples in Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.
In addition to visiting temples, Kozen traveled to a factory in Hue, Vietnam where the statues were carved from several different types of stone.
“Quite a few people donated funds directly to the statue makers to help pay for these statues to be carved and then shipped to the USA. We are grateful to have such kind community support,” said Kozen
In total, the creating and shipping of the statues cost an estimated $39,500. The statues traveled from Vietnam to Singapore, to China, and then to Trout Lake.
Accompanying Kozen on this trip was Venerable Mingh, a native of Vietnam. He helped coordinate the whole effort to buy, oversee the creation of, consolidate, and ship the statues. Mingh will be living at the Mt. Adams temple for the next two years on a religious worker visa.