Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wood Valley Temple

In viewing the imagery of Tibetan Buddhist temples as well as visiting their spaces when possible, I am occasionally reminded of famous Swedish author Astrid Lindgren's popular red haired child character- Pippi Longstocking. More specifically, I am reminded of Villa Villekula, the house that Pippi inhabited- a charming, chaotic and color bursting scene of love, open hearts and a child's sense of keeping space.

The energy on the scene of a Tibetan Buddhist temple or monastery is certainly more decidedly infused with matters of spirit and ritual- but there too is a playfulness, a bright quirk and twinkle in the eye.

Not to mention, the color schemes bear striking parallels.

All photos by Annika A. Lundkvist

My memories of visiting Wood Valley Temple, Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling, are infused with the memory of road tripping southward on the island of Hawai'i. First upward and over, past Pele's domain, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, and onward towards the verdant and peaceful environs of the town of Pahala. Always a sense of calm, active excitement as I rounded the bend, nearing Wood Valley Temple- this bright, active little node tucked discreetly into the rainforest.
I never saw many people there. Sometimes I saw the monks, or caretakers, or a peacock or two.

A friend and I happened to make the "pilgrimage" on a day that was also a Lunar Festival. Our visit was spent mostly sitting quietly in the shrine room until a small group of monks appeared on the scene, at which point we became active witnesses to ceremony, followed by a feast of the offerings that visitors had left over the weeks on the altar. Oreos, gummi bears and such.

Delightful. Not to mention my introduction to ceremony in the Tibetan Buddhist sphere. My next ceremonial experience (just as rich but more solemn) would not occur for another five years or so, back in the continental U.S., in upstate New York.
Aptly named Nechung Dorge Drayang Ling, meaning Immutable Island of Melodious Sound, this Tibetan Buddhist temple runs in the Geluk tradition, with H.H. the Dalai Lama as spiritual director. The center was established in 1973 and while I don't have the history of the center at my fingertips, I am guessing that there is a hearty tradition of local residents that have served as caretakers of this small but spacious, beautiful space.

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