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Gate/Main Hall Composite, Hsi Lai Temple, Hacienda Heights, CA, USA

A Pilgrimage



After five years in Japan, two years in a Buddhist college, and a few months in China, there is one thing this Barefoot Fool of a Laughing Buddha knows for sure: you can't learn much about Buddhism by just reading. Yet millions of words have been written, and--used correctly--they can function like "fingers pointing at the moon," as long as we don't mistake them for the Moon itself.

Even so, one of the best ways to learn about Buddhism (or anything) is to be there. So instead of telling you about Buddhism, I am going to take you on an extended tour of Hsi Lai Temple in Southern California. Hsi Lai has its own tour on line, with an excellent clickable map. I highly recommend that you visit it for a "bird's eye view" (and, what's more, if you're in SoCal I recommend an in-person visit). But what I offer here is background and stories from my personal studies. (This material originated as a paper written for an "independent study" class at Hsi Lai University, under the supervision of Dr. J. Bruce Long.)

Each page in this pilgrimage offers two kinds of information. The first is background and stories about the area and the figures found there; the second provides support for those who would like to perform a pilgrimage at the temple (or perform devotional activities at home).

You may choose to start at the beginning, and follow the "path" all the way through.

Or you may use the list below to visit selected areas on the path. The choice is yours. Either way, I hope you will find this an enriching experience. 

I have also provided a one-page version of the devotional section for those who are planning to visit the Temple in person.



An Ascent of Hsi Lai Temple: A Pilgrimage

Preparation, Approach, and Arrival

Ascent #1: From the Street to the Gate of the Universal Vows

The Gate of the Universal Vows

Ascent #2: From the Gate of the Universal Vows to the Bodhisattva Hall

The Temple Guardians: Wei Tuo and Chien Lun (Kuan Ti)

In the Hall of the Bodhisattvas



The Diamond Sutra (Emptiness)

Buddhas of Five Mudras

The Garden of Wisdom (The Arhat Garden)

The Garden of Compassion (The Kuan Yin/Avalokitesvara Garden)

Ascent #3: From the Courtyard to the Hall of the Buddhas

In the Hall of the Buddhas

Mantras and Intentions for use on the Pilgrimage path 



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