Redefining a cultural experience with The Art of Ch’an






When In Manila who would have thought that in the middle of busy and noisy streets of Malate you’ll be able to find a place of peace and tranquility?



That’s right. Visit the Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple at Malate, Manila to get your sense of calm.



The FGS-International group is formed to support the temple in sharing the teachings of the Buddha to the Filipino community. The temple offers various activities which were patterned on the Three Acts of Goodness (Do Good Deeds, Speak Good Words, Think Good Thoughts) framework.

Upon entering the venue, we really felt the peacefulness of the place. It was quiet and the ambiance was very calming. But you would also notice how the structure and design of the building shifts from traditional to contemporary.







We were welcomed by the Head Abbess. She gave a brief background as to the history of FGS here in the Philippines and also a short introduction to the Art of Ch’an. The Art of Ch’an, as explained by Head Abbess Ven. Miao Jing, is something that can neither be talked about or explained; it can only be experienced. Thus, we were given the chance to experience the Art of Ch’an when we were invited to visit the Mabuhay temple last July 14, 2012 for The Art of Ch’an: A Cultural and Spiritual Immersion.







To start the Ch’an experience, we were introduced to Sutra Calligraphy. Its actually a meditation art form because you are to focus all your attention on perfectly copying out the characters in the paper which translates to a quote or mantra.




Shigu Esther teaching us about the proper way of holding the brush pen which is specifically made for calligraphy.










My finished Sutra Calligraphy.




The founder of the Fo Guang Shan order, Venerable Master Hsing Yun practices this art form of meditation as well. Despite his age, he performs this art of calligraphy and write inscriptions of instruction and inspiration everyday. Yes, everyday. You can only imagine how many calligraphy he has! Most of which became items for art collectors all over the world. And for the first time, since the construction of the Mabuhay temple Master Hsing Yun’s works will be placed on exhibit from July 28 to August 31, 2012. Proceeds of the exhibit will benefit the Budhi Learning Institute, a ten-month learning program designed for high school graduates all over the Philippines who don’t have the means to get higher education.

After Sutra Calligraphy, we were invited to take part in the more common form of meditation. To sit crossed-legged on the meditation area and just breathe in and out for a few minutes. Contrary to popular belief, you’re not supposed to think about anything during meditation. Meditation is mainly for cleansing and just clearing out all thoughts to let our senses guide us, to leave our worries and create a new experience everyday.




Jasmine Tea Leaves Ready for brewing.







To hypen up the experience, we had a demo of a tea ceremony. We were shown a brief process of how tea was brewed and how a tea ceremony goes. We were also told that you must first smell the aroma of the tea before drinking it to fully envibe the experience and engage the senses. The tea, I must say, was perfect!




With the tea shops becoming a trend these days, we were also informed that if you want to have cold tea, you need to wait for 10 hours to achieve the perfect cold tea!

We also had the English Buddhist Prayer, which is usually held every 2nd Sunday of the month at 10:00pm, and prayed for peace and love for the Philippines.


One of the Masters leading the English Buddhist Prayer.




After the prayer, some of the students straight from Thailand performed with the traditional Chinese yo-yo and a victory dance for the crowd as well.

A student performing with the traditional chinese yo-yo.







Students from Thailand performing the victory dance.




Before calling it a day, we were given a tour of the temple. The Mabuhay temple coincides well with the objectives of the FGS and Humanistic Buddhism which presents the temple as a place for more than just prayers and rituals. This temple serves as a multi-functional building that has facilities for education, accommodation and other cultural activities apart from the religious ones.




An image of Buddha in the lobby of the temple.









They also have a gift shop where you can purchase souvenir items of all sorts.




What better way to end this experience than to feast on some of the food made especially for us by the Waterdrop Teahouse. The teahouse serves vegetarian dishes, snack items and beverages at a very affordable price. These were some of the food that they served us.












Having a sweet tooth, I was especially fond of their home made mochi.







Apart from the activities mentioned above, they also have their regular activities. A Dharma Cinema Circle that features film in spirituality and Buddhism every 4th Sunday of the month. An Open Mic Night that provides an opportunity for sharing of various talents in life and the arts held every 2nd Friday of the month. A Wellness Program which is to be launched in August, that offers refuge and renewal of the weary body and mind.




Thank you very much to Allen Quintos for the temple tour.




True to the words of Head Abbess Ven. Miao Jing, this experience was indeed different but fruitful.
” Life can be very beautiful, we just have to appreciate it.
Life can be very beautiful, we just have to share it with others.
Life can be very beautiful, we just have to define life and redefine our experience.”







When In Manila and you want to redefine your experience make sure to pay a visit to the Mabuhay Temple.

For further information about the Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple and all the other activities that they have there you may visit
Or contact the International Group (IG)
Tel No: 02-559-9540.
The Mabuhay temple is located in 656 Pablo Ocampo Street, Malate Manila.

Redefining a cultural experience with The Art of Ch’an


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