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Hsi Lai Temple, Hacienda Heights, LA County, USA

October 2nd, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Hsi Lai Temple (TC: 西來寺; PY: Xīlái Sì) (approximate pronunciation She Lye) is a traditional Chinese Buddhist mountain monastery. It is located on the foothill region of Hacienda Heights, California, USA, a suburb of Los Angeles. The name "Hsi Lai" means Coming West, by which they mean the "Great Buddhadharma Coming West."

The temple is one of the first branch temples of Taiwan's largest charity and religious organization, Fo Guang Shan, founded by Venerable Master Hsing Yun. This temple is also the site of the founding of Buddha's Light International Association, which was established in 1991. The temple, like its mother temple in Taiwan, follows the Rinzai Zen school of Buddhism, and also follows the Pure Land School.

The current abbot of the temple is Venerable Hui Chi, and the current deputy abbot is Venerable Hui Sheng.

In 1976, Master Hsing Yun represented a Buddhist group from Taiwan to participate in America's bicentennial celebration. Many American friends asked Master Hsing Yun to build a monastery in the US. Therefore, Fo Guang Shan asked the Venerable Tzu Chuang (Upon the inception of the temple, became the founding and first abbess of Hsi Lai Temple) and Yi Heng to plan and organize the construction of the temple in the Greater Los Angeles area. It was officially registered under the name of International Buddhist Progress Society. Until the temple was complete, Ven. Tzu Chuang bought an old church building, which was to be Hsi Lai's temporary headquarters. The original temple, located in the city of Maywood was called Bai Ta (White Pagoda) Temple.

The building of the temple survived six public hearings and 165 explanatory sessions. The planning and construction of the temple, in the 1980s, were met with suspicion and resistance from local residents outside of the Asian/Buddhist community, many of whom knew little about Buddhism or had negative attitudes. In 1985, the temple was finally granted a building permit. The groundbreaking ceremony was held the following year, and was completed on November 26th, 1988.

The temple was finished at a cost of $10 million. Such negative feelings about the building of Hsi Lai have diminished as the general level of awareness has been raised and as the temple and its residents have proven to be good neighbors. In addition, when the temple opened, the Master blessed the land from the highest point on the property, and some believe that the blessing brings good fortune and will raise property values.

Immediately after its opening, Hsi Lai was the venue of many important events. The 16th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists and the 7th conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth was held from November 19th to the 26th, an international Triple Platform Full Ordination Ceremony for monastics was held for over a month, and a Liberation Rite of Water and Land, the first of its kind in North America, was held prior to the temple's opening.

In 1990, in conjunction to the completion of Hsi Lai Temple, Master Hsing Yun founded Hsi Lai University, one of sixteen Buddhist colleges and universities operated by Fo Guang Shan. The university was relocated in Rosemead, California in 1996. It is one of the first Buddhist colleges in the United States.

There are departments for Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Buddhist studies, comparative religious studies, and a Master of Business Administration program is also offered.

In 2004, the university changed its name to the University of the West and appointed Dr. Lewis Lancaster, a religion professor at UC Berkeley and longtime member of Fo Guang Shan, as president.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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