Somewhat off the beaten path but popular among tourists, photographers and, of course, local and visiting worshippers, is the Vietnamese Buddhist Center in Sugar Land, TX.
Fort Bend County in Texas has one of the most diverse cultural communities in America. A Buddhist Temple and its congregation deserves to be treated with dignity and respect so I don’t want to list a place of worship merely as a tourist attraction. However, what first peaked my interest was the very large statue of Quan The Am Bo Tat, also referred to as Quan Am. Rising gracefully above a foot bridge crossing a serene pond, the statue is famous both as a work of art and for being such a large statue in a suburban area.
Quan Am is an important protective figure in the Buddhist culture. In China, Quan Am is referred to as Guan Yin.
One finds many sculptures in the gardens upon driving onto the grounds. The Center is visitor-friendly but I was still very careful not to wander anywhere I shouldn’t. I navigated my way through the gardens, over the bridge and near the temple enjoying the monuments and other scenery. Several lions adorn and protect the grounds as well as the large sculpted depiction of Buddha passing into Nirvana. On this monument, contributed by Dr. Hop Nguyen and Family, one finds the following inscription:
IN COMMEMORATING THE BUDDHA’S PASSING INTO NIRVANA
After forty-five years of continuous and tireless teachings of the Dharma to deliver all beings from suffering, The Buddha rested peacefully in a grove of shala trees at Kusinara and serenely passed into Nirvana. His last words were:
“All phenomena are impermanent and are subject to decay and death. Work out your salvation with diligence.”
The Vietnamese Buddhist Center is located approximately 19 miles Southwest of Downtown Houston. For more photos and information visit www.vnbc.com
A Wikipedia entry about Quan Am / Guan Yin: http://vi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quan_%C3%82m
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