Modern Buddhism in the Inland Empire

By Jordan Ortega |Staff Writer|

Every day, the Thien Vien Chan Nguyen Buddhist Meditation Center allows the public, regardless of religious faith, to come and visit the monastery.

This past weekend Thein Vien Chan Nguyen Buddhist Meditation Center offered a vegetarian meal to members of the community. 

People of all faiths are welcomed to come an enjoy a complimentary meal with the members of the monastery. 

Everyone eats at the same time in a community style. If you choose to attend you need be respectful and stay for the entire event.

The event runs Sunday starting with preparation at noon, and the meal is served promptly at 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.

The Thien Vien Chan Nguyen Buddhist Meditation Center is considered a monastery and not a Buddhist Temple.

“The reason is that temples you come and visit, then you leave,” said monk Kevin White. 

“Monks live on the premises which makes this a monastery,” said another monk Robert Smith.

The particular Buddhism they practice is called “pure land Buddhism.”  

Just like the name expresses, this Buddhism is “pure” and strict form of Buddhism, which is geared more toward Buddhists from Asian countries.

“People come here [for us monks] to teach them [how to deal with] their lifestyle and time [management],” said monk Kevin White. 

Another reason for the majority of people is “they come here for curiosity.”

Many visitors do not understand the teaching of Buddhism, but potential Buddhist followers can accept their religion and follow the teachings.

For example, “Buddhist followers do not have to be vegetarian or meditate unless they want to be a monk,” said monk Robert Smith.

Monks unlike Buddhist followers have to “live with nothing. [Even though] they are used to having everything. You [as a monk] have to be willing to give up what you obsess over.”

Living as a Buddhist monk is a very difficult life for some because of the rules they follow.

“Monks do not like to beat around the bush.”

The monks will be straightforward and concise with you.

For example, visitors need to dress appropriately.

“Visitors need to cover as much skin as possible to be respectful of the monastery,” said Monk Kevin White. Monks have to wear a robe in all weather. In the hot summer or the cold winter. Everyone can wear appropriate attire like monks do daily.”

Monks have to obey many rules such as their clothing.

“We cannot own anything it is attachment,” said White. “Monks are forbidden to accept income.”

However, in certain circumstances they can if they are not receiving enough donations.

If you are donating to a group of monks you are supposed to place them inside the donation box which would be enough for everyone.

If you want to donate to one monk you have to present the donation off the premises, unless you plan on donating the same item to every monk on the premises.

The biggest question from outsiders is “why do people choose to live like that?”

Monks and Buddhist followers both want to reach nirvana or “enlightenment.”

The monastery is there to serve the community and what the community needs.