No Insanity here! Love Your World!
Locked in place, how do you cope? Tom and I decided that we were going to pretend that we were in another country. As tourists and explorers, we tooled around the outskirts of the great Disney Kingdom and the Space Coast.
One of Tom’s new found friends told us about White Sands Buddhist Center in Mims. We were skeptical that something so wonderful could be found in Mims. Then, we were totally amazed at the serenity and beauty of the place when we found it. The buildings were closed but the grounds were open to the public. We were the only public visiting.
White Sands is sponsored by the Vietnamese government. We have visited many temples in Vietnam but I did not know what division of Buddhism the Vietnamese followed. White Sands seems to be a mixture of Mahayana and Pure Land Buddhism. Mahayana looks to bodhisattvas (sort of living buddhas) to help them reach nirvana. Pure Land Buddhism, founded in Japan, is modeled after Christianity with a hope for a heavenly life. I think both of these strains were found on the grounds of White Sands.
White Sands was a welcome relief to the craziness in the news and grocery stores. Walking the grounds and viewing the statues put your mind at ease. What a great find!
Here is a quote from their website,”When we close our mind, it is as if we voluntarily imprison ourselves in a tight and narrow world.”
Check out the article in Wikipedia, “Buddhism in the United States.”
Religious Structures are Often Hidden
Local governments often write building codes with the express purpose of keeping out faiths unfamiliar to them. Sometimes they put limits on a dome or how a building can be designed or redesigned. This forces religions that create unusual architectures to become even more creative. Sometimes they go underground to create the religious space that meets their needs. Often they purchase unwanted land, defunct warehouses, or production sites, and build their beautiful buildings inside. From the outside their property looks like it is falling down. From the inside it can be a glorious golden dome of light. White Sands is hidden in a great forest.
Most of the religious properties we visited were not on main streets. The Hindu Temple was built next to an old car dump. Behind a wall of apartments and fences stood the Sikh Temple. And the Jewish Synagogue, from the street, looked like an office building. Of course, no religious structure is safe these days.
The Sikh Temple
Sikhs are monotheistic and resist the caste system found within Hinduism in India. The parking lot was empty when we arrived at the temple. Soon, Mr. Singh was greeting us and inviting us for a tour, or at the very least a bite to eat. He was so welcoming. Declining the invitation, we promised we would return.
Hindu Temple in Melbourne
What a treat! We snuck by the “No Trespassing” sign because the gate was open. It was like an invitation. Hindus are often polytheistic. Stories about their gods and goddesses are very entertaining. Many Indians prefer to call themselves “monotheistic” because they follow the One, Supreme God from which all other emanate. Some follow only Shiva or a favorite god or goddess. One of our favorite gods is Ganesh(a), bringer of good luck. And what do you know–greeting us on that beautiful day was Ganesh.
We also tried to visit another Buddhist site south of Orlando that houses monks but we were not allowed to enter. We will go back after the virus settles down in the fall. I am going to include just a few pictures. One of them is from the net.
I chose this synagogue because of the architecture. We drove right by it because we did not recognize that it was a synagogue.
“Ohev” means, “he loves.” And, of course, shalom means “peace.” Below is a photo of the building. Today, trees hide it from view.
Holy Land Experience
Have you traveled to Israel? If you have, one of places that most tourists visit is a replica of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus, or the second temple period. It is right behind the Holy Land Hotel. In Orlando, the Holy Land Experience complex tries to replicate this small replica of Jerusalem on a grand scale. The gates were locked so we were limited on picture taking. At the front gate stood a handsome soldier.
Inside you could see the temple and other historic sites found at the Holy Land Hotel in Jerusalem. The following two photos were taken from their website. It is a place where the Bible and Christianity is centerstage. But, some say that it is failing economically and will soon go out of business.
Explore Your City
This is no time to be hunkered down. We met only one person on our religious treks, so we were practicing extreme-social-distancing. Make a plan and visit places that you have never been that are near you. We tried not to stop at public restrooms, so your treks could be about an hour long. We also stopped by a Masjid (mosque) in Titusville but it was in a small house and not so interesting. What is interesting is that there are Muslims in Titusville.
Today, as we walked along the Indian river, people were holding exercise classes outside. Some were boxing. Many were walking their dogs. There was plenty of space for everyone. So get out that bicycle, or tricycle, or motorcycle, or …. and explore your world.
I met a friend the other day!
Every morning I walk about 90 minutes. The Nature path is a small part of my exercise. In the past few months, there have been several sightings of snakes so I keep my eyes peeled. I have only seen three so far.
The other day I noticed horizontal tracks on the path and stopped because I thought it might be a big snake. I looked down and an alligator was right at my foot staring up at me. I was shocked. I looked at him. He looked at me and this looking went on for a few seconds. Then, I gently stepped away. He was not aggressive. I have never been this close to an alligator. (How lucky I was!)
This is not the end of our exploring. We have scoured the cities of Mims and Titusville and discovered historic and important sites. In my next blog, I will share them with you. So, avoid the alligators and get out there and enjoy and love the world.
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge