#6 of 49 Things to do Before I Turn 49

Since the weather cancelled my pre-planned 6th adventure which had to do with being up in the sky, I decided today to go for a totally grounding adventure.  And I’m glad I did.  For months now I’ve been waiting to visit the Thai Temple of Tampa.  I’ve heard many great things from the nice view, the delicious food, the peaceful energy, and the calming environment.  I can attest, their reputation is accurate.  It was all of those things and more.  Today was especially unique as it is Visakha Puja, otherwise known as “Buddha’s Birthday”  (Although strangely, they have another holiday referred to as Buddha’s Birthday called, Hanamatsuri and that is celebrated April 8th – lucky dude gets 2 birthdays!)

Visakha Puja Day marks the Buddhism Trinity or three important incidents occurred in the life of Lord Buddha on the same day. They happened on the same day on full moon of the sixth lunar month.

The three significant separate events are:

  • The Buddha was born on this day. Buddha was born into a royal family in what is now Nepal.
  • The Buddha achieved “The Enlightenment” (NIRVANA) on the same day
  • He passed away at age 80 in India.

In his early years he lived a life of luxury and was shielded from the life of misery that most of the kingdom’s people lived in. At the age of 29 he left this life of luxury and studied the practices of Brahmin ascetics who denied themselves all but the most vital essentials of life. Eventually he rejected this practice and practiced the “middle way” – a simple rational life of moderation.

Today, I did not practice moderation… I honored Buddha by eating as much Thai food as I could possibly endure.  Then purchased more to take home.

The Temple is open every day, but on Sundays they have a market where visitors can purchase prepared authentic Thai food, fresh produce, and the most beautiful selections of plants and flowers.  (Orchid fans, you can get them at the temple from $15 – $20 donations.)

The Temple is located just 10 minutes outside of downtown Tampa, so it’s easy access for those times you need to get away, if only for a moment, from the day to day hectic life we all tend to live.

The people working there, as you could imagine, are very friendly, but surprisingly, they welcome visitors to take as many pictures as they like – even inside the Temple.  I called ahead to see if Macie was welcome and their response was very zen like: “Dogs are not allowed, but please keep them on a leash and make sure they are friendly when you bring them.”  I opted to leave Macie at home to respect their rules.  Many people do not, and there are lots of dogs there.

Fun Fact:  Buddhist monks are not allowed to prepare their own food.  Ever.

So how do they eat?  We (non monks) prepare their food for them.  At first, this may seem very elitist, but when you find out why, you’ll have a completely different perspective.  It’s for balance.  We rely on the monks for spiritual nourishment; they rely on us for physical nourishment.

This represents a 3 course meal for 6 monks

If you wish, you may purchase a donation of food for the monks.  As well, you can donate flowers, and clothing for them since monks are never paid and have no money, their physical needs – clothing, food, & shelter, are provided by everyday people.

It’s a beautiful experience.  You sit at a table, preparing your donation.  Then, after they have finished their morning chants, they walk outside and down the aisle.  Humbly holding out a silver pot for you to place your donation.  They all say a quiet, “thank you” and when the pot is filled, turn around and poor the contents into a laundry basket that the people accompany them are holding.  There isn’t a basket for each monk.  They don’t separate their individual donations; all of the monks share the gifts equally.  Which is a stark contrast, and wonderful reminder to us that we shouldn’t be as addicted to our individual possessions as we all so are.

I’ll definitely be back, if not for the food, for the wonderfully peaceful environment to unwind.  They have a beautiful view of the Hillsborough River and mighty oaks for plenty of shade.  To learn more about the Thai Temple, click here:

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