If you’ve not been to the Blue Lotus Temple, you are missing out. I first showed up in this cool old building when it was a Unitarian Church what feels like a million years ago. I loved it’s old doors and soulful woodwork and the awesome church pews. I would sit for hours and think of all the people who’d worshiped there and I longed to be connected to them all.
When Bhante Sujatha and the board of the Blue Lotus Temple bought the place, truth is, I was mad as hell. Not because it was them, I love them more than I love anything.. but what they did to the place broke my heart. They ripped out a bunch of the old soulful stuff, the amazing pews and the wonderful old plank floors and the cool old doors with the doorknobs that opened so many literal and figurative doors for people. But I also understood that the use we’d need it for required changes.. and what’s more central to Buddhist teaching anyway than the concept of change itself. The pews didn’t make sense anymore, we sit on the floor now mostly.. and the awesome wood plank floors were all on a slop to the main alter… so sitting on the floor sliding towards the Buddha wouldn’t exactly work either. The old doors that were so full of soul and stories were also the draftiest old rickety things you’ve ever seen and even their beauty couldn’t keep the cold out as we tried to meditate.
It was easy to tolerate all this change because the holy grail of this building was not the doors or the floors, it’s the incredible giant stained glass that encompasses the entire dharma hall ( previously the church sanctuary ). Nobody was messing with that stained glass, it’s priceless by any standards and the pictures of Jesus and the history of this church can never be erased— and luckily the monks and the rest of the amazing people who came together to save this old place and turn it into this mediation refuge felt the same way.
Find another place that you can hang with Jesus and Buddha together— I’ve been around, ( as in literally all around the world ) and I can’t think of another place of worship that’s this inclusive. I’m humbled and honored to practice in this sacred beauty often.
I almost never fundraise on this website and I promise I’m not gonna start doing it often now, however I really do want to give Jesus a helping hand. Read the note below from Bhante Sujatha telling the story perfectly and then see if you an help preserve Jesus even with just a few bucks.
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.