How do you feel being here Jason? It’s like exotic but familiar I don’t know how to explain it It’s interesting I was just wondering how this temple came to the United States or to Southern California, how did this all begin? This temple is Wat Thai of Los Angeles Wat Thai of Los Angeles is the first Thai temple from Thailand to move to the United States in 1972, thats 47 years ago. The temple has grown by the community, by the people. Because the people moved from Thailand to the United States They needed some someplace to build the community for them, thats why we have the temple. To bring the traditions from Thailand About 95% of Thai people are Buddhist which is why we need the temple. They donated money, collected money to buy the land and then to buy the house and invite Monks to live here So I was noticing the like the physical aspects of the temple, is there anyway you can explain like what the gold on the outside is/signifies as well as the features All of the architecture of the building such as the statue Involve the story of Buddhism. The two giants, the two giants for us literally in our tradition, you have two giants to protect the Earth They cover The East, West, South, North, and the up and the down. These two are, are two giants who protect the East in that direction. What the giants are protecting the people from are from any evils coming inside the Main Temple, they protect that. I was wondering if those two guardians if they’re in any relation with Hinduism at all? Yes because Buddhism comes from India It’s from India, derives from India And then all the background (teachings) for Buddhist people is from Hinduism. So sometimes, for Thai people it’s very hard to explain to other people which one is Buddhism and which one is Hinduism because they are mixed together. I noticed two deer and I think it’s the Wheel of Dharma, is there any way you explain that? It’s on the front of the temple The forest contains this animal (deer) so it’s like a he (Buddha) took over the the place of the animal It symbolizes for to make the people, to pay gratitude for the environment, for the forest, and the animals, to teach people these things. Because for Buddhist people we teach people always Pay gratitude back and if payed back then it will return. If you took anything then you should give back. That’s why they have the the animal the deer to symbolize it. Like the park of the deer (Deer Park in Sarnath, land where first sermon was held) For the first sermons (first teachings of Buddha) Buddha talks here That was all during the first teachings? Yes the first teachings Yes such as the wheel teachings (of Dharma), and the Eight-fold Path. (leads to end of suffering) The Eight-fold Path and the Wheel of the Dharma teachings were told in the deer park. We should have anything to symbolize to make people to to feel like gratitude above all What is Buddhism to you, what does it mean to you? I feel like with Buddhism, the temple doors are always open everyone is welcome, do you feel the same way? Is that how Buddhism is to you? Buddhism is, I guess the difference is with other religions We don’t call on people to become Buddhist people, you come to prove by yourself. You believing in is ok, but for me why I became a Buddhist Monk because it’s my tradition, I’ve followed my tradition since I was a kid and then I followed my family is Buddhist and so I just followed them And then if you asked me if I believed in Buddhism but when I was a kid I didn’t know anything about the religion. I just followed as my family had practiced. I think that Buddhism is very simple. Very simple ways, depends on you Because everything goes back to yourself Moving by yourself This “atas oto” as we say ata, its moving by yourself and any religion is very important for for ALL the people, why? Religion talks about life talks about how life is going how to set everything or whatever that (may be) Some kid that say “Oh I don’t have any religion” this is sad because You don’t have to have a religion, but you should follow something your parents teach you. Anything! You should have something to follow at home to practice that But for me Buddhism is very simple. You prove by yourself You practice by yourself It comes down to practicing by yourself. Practicing enough or not enough depends on YOU. Want to come inside? Yes, thank you All statues here inside, are the Buddha, the Buddha image. Whether its a small or big one, its just one but they are in different positions. Standing, walking, sitting and sitting meditating. These are all Buddha the SAME Buddha the same statue. The different position depends on the story of the Buddha. He’s walking, he’s sitting, he takes a bowl See the bowl right here? He goes walking, takes the bowl and people donate anything here. This is the bowl for survival The Buddha, he is not God he is a human, a human 2,000 years ago That is why he is a simple, simple person When people come to pray, or to bow down to Buddha, it doesn’t mean that we are asking the Buddha to ” help me help me” No It’s just to follow what he taught you. What the teachings he taught you are, thats why It’s important in Buddhism to have three things The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha (Threefold Refuge) The Buddha is the example person and the Dharma is the national law he taught us and the Sangha is the group or the organization of the monks, and then he studied very very hard and then spread the teaching to the people So that’s why we bow down or we, have respect for the three things the Buddha, dharma, and the sangha For Buddhist people you make in your life, you you donate money if you can, or if you have the power to build a a temple, this turns into very good karma Then for sure after you die, you have a chance to go to heaven, you go to chant, you’ve become strong and a good person You do not want to go down Buddhist people believe that after people die you have a chance to go where you want to go but it depends on your karma, karma affects you immediately after you die It also may affect your life too In your life, karma also has an affect but when you die karma will affect where you go after you die (heaven or hell) Whether you go to hell or become a ghost or become an animal or back as a human again and to go to be in to go to heaven to go to be a deity be god if you have (lived) a purified life if you’re human you go to Nirvana. You’ll return to become, to get involved in Samsara or reincarnation To be in nirvana is the goal for Buddhist people Because we don’t want to come back to become human humans live too hefty of a life (you can say that again!) suffering, lots of suffering! You don’t want to come back to that You only want to get to Nirvana Because its Samsara (cycle of birth, death, rebirth) reincarnation I’d probably like to come back as a like a cat or an animal and just sleep all day Do you think every Thai man should join a temple for a couple months just so they can get a better understanding of the Buddhist ways? Is that something that’s necessary for most Thai men? For me it’s true For me it’s true because ok one thing all the parents, mom and dad if they have a son, he has to be accepted for the man ordination for Buddhism. We don’t accept female ordination in Thailand. So that’s why for Thai people, if you have a son the main goal is that for when your son grows up and at twenty years old (parents) “My son should be a monk” for the parent to be/make the parents heart feel FULL In your life, how many times will you make your parents proud of you?