One of my favorite parts of the Blue Lotus Temple has nothing to do with Buddhism. I am so happy that we inherited tall, beautiful stained glass windows depicting Jesus and his good works.
Believe it or not, this temple started out in 1866 as a Puritan Worship Center.
I am sitting in the brick building that was built in 1906 when they changed over to a Christian church. The stained glass windows represent the first break with the strict Puritan ways, which would not have allowed for colorful windows.
I like to remember this. These windows mean freedom. My mission is to teach Americans about the benefits of meditation and loving kindness. I want people to know that they can come into the temple and meditate; they don’t need to be a Buddhist, or even want to be a Buddhist. These windows remind everyone about that.
People ask me frequently, “don’t you want to take down those stained glass pictures of Jesus?” and I say, “no, they are beautiful and Jesus and the Buddha would be good friends.” One of my best friends followed me to Sri Lanka and became a Buddhist monk, but realized later that he really wanted to reconnect with his Christian faith. I supported him 100 percent in this, and now he is an Anglican Priest in Canada. So I know something about Jesus and the Buddha.
Both of them taught that there is a way out of suffering. Both of them believed that while pain might not be optional, suffering is always a choice.
When Christians come to my temple, they are sometimes uncomfortable with the tall Buddha statue in the front of the temple. I tell them that they can turn and face Jesus in the beautiful stained glass windows. This comforts many people who might not have learned about the benefits of meditation any another way.
Now, these beautiful stained glass windows are aging. It will cost 25 thousand dollars to preserve them properly. I know this seems impossible, but I refuse to give up, just like I refused to give up my dream of this temple so many years ago. Together we can save these beautiful windows, which have been shining the love of Jesus for more than 100 years.
I want to save these windows to pay my respects and express my gratitude to the Christians that built this beautiful building. We can all be so proud that this temple is here in Woodstock. I want to let the community know that I appreciate their kindness and acceptance.
I always remember that the Buddha taught us not to come and believe, but to come and see. So if you can, come and see. Jesus and the Buddha. Feel the warm sunlight streaming through the pictures of Jesus, and smile.
If you have time, sit and meditate and feel my love, and the appreciation of all the people that call this temple their spiritual home.
Please help us preserve these beautiful testaments to Jesus and his love.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.