Introduction to the City of Dharma Realm Jeweled Palace
The founder of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, brought Buddhadharma to the West in 1962, and established numerous temples in the United States and around the world. The exterior and architecture of these temples typically are built using materials available locally but not limited to such. The Venerable Master himself designed a towering structure bodhimandala to be built at the heart of the West Sacramento city center, adjacent to the capital of California, Sacramento. This is the first building of its kind, designed using the elements of ancient Buddhist stupas and pagodas of the past. As soon as any Buddhist disciples see such a jeweled stupa, they would know that it houses the three jewels of the Buddhas, the Dharma, and Sangha, so people would naturally bring forth an awe-inspiring, sublime respect and reverent mind. The jeweled palace facing the offices of the Capitol of California would be the symbol of California and the landmark for West Sacramento.
The main architectural feature of a Buddhist building is the pagoda. There are many ancient pagodas in India, such as the famous Bodhi Gaya and Nanda ruins, all of which are quite large in their capacity. There are also similar constructions in many countries in southeast Asia, which are similarly magnificent and awe-inspiring. The Borobudur Temple in Indonesia, the Angkor Watt in Cambodia, the Shwedagon Pagoda in Burma, and the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan which are all are well-known Buddhist structures in the world. The currently proposed Jeweled Palace at The City of Dharma Realm should be the very first building of its kind in California; therefore, one can imagine the importance and signification of the construction.
Building Design and Structure
The Jeweled Palace of The City of Dharma Realm is a three-storied pagoda, with the Sky Bridge and the Mountain Gate completing its overall structure modeled after the ancient Buddhist building architecture.
First Level Dinning Hall
The basic principle of Buddhism is that “all living beings have Buddha nature, and all can become Buddhas. But because of false (delusive) thoughts and attachments, they are unable to attain the Thus Come One’s (Buddha’s) wisdom and virtuous appearance.” Buddhist disciples view all living beings as equal, that they are all equally important and have the right to live. Buddhist do not kill; they protect and liberate lives. We can provide pure, clean vegetables dishes without killing karma as our source of food to nourish our physical body. Having compassion as our foundation, we do not wish death upon others—this is the manifestation of compassion. Vegetarianism can help grow our compassionate mind and is also a method or returning to our pure original nature. As the saying goes,
For hundreds of thousands of years, the stew in the pot
Has boiled up a resentment very hard to level.
If you want to know why there are calamities and wars in the world,
Just listen to the sounds from a slaughterhouse at midnight.
In the West, a similar phrase goes, “wars stop on the dining table”. Ending wars is to stop the causes for killing, the conditions for killing, and the methods and karma of killing. Therefore, we encourage protecting our planet and encourage vegetarianism for life’s nourishment.
Second Level Dharma Hall
“Because of false (delusive) thoughts and attachments, they are unable to attain the Thus Come One’s (Buddha’s) wisdom and virtuous appearance.” How do we rid ourselves of false thinking and attachments? We should listen to more sutras and dharma instructional talks, and learn the cultivation experience and methods of the Buddha to advance on our progress. Buddhist disciples follow the steps of the Buddha’s cultivation, step by step, using the Buddha’s dharma teachings to remind oneself and address and correct one’s three karmas of the body, mouth, and mind with appropriate thoughts. We should get rid of fighting, greed, selfishness, self-benefiting, and lying to allow one’s wisdom to develop, culminating in enlightenment, using the “dharma-joy food” to nourish one’s wisdom life.
Third Level Buddha Hall
The palace of the dharma king is the jeweled hall of the Thus Come One. Thus Come One is one of the ten names of the Buddha. The Dharma Flower Sutra states, “The Thus Come One’s room is the mind of great compassion toward all living beings”. The Great Expansive Flower Adornment Sutra states, “All Buddhas, Thus Come Ones, take the mind of great compassion as their substance. Because of living beings, they bring forth great compassion. From great compassion, the Bodhi mind is born, and because of the resolve for Bodhi, they accomplish Equal and Proper Enlightenment.” Coming in the Buddha Hall is to perfect one’s compassionate mind, allowing one to return to one’s original pure Buddha nature and compassionate substance. The dais of the Buddhas of the Five Directions orients southward with their backs to the north. According to the principles of Chinese Feng-Shui, this is the proper setting, as it allows for warm winters and cool summers. In ancient Chinese history, the supreme emperors of China also sat facing south with their backs to the north. Similarly, the dais of the regal dharma king Buddha also has the same orientation, allowing sincere Buddhist disciples who pilgrimage toward north, facing the dharma king, to express their sincere reverence.
On the first floor, we will promote not eating living beings’ flesh in the vegetarian dining hall as the start for learning Buddhism. Then one climbs up to the second floor lecture hall where one can listens to dharma instructional talks and sutra lectures to improve one’s behaviors and thoughts. Through these practices, one can reflect on and check the three karmas of body, mouth, and mind to constantly reform oneself and practice compassion to oneself and others. Finally, when one ascends to the third floor Buddha Hall and enters the chamber of the Thus Come One, one can cultivate the Bodhisattva path of six perfections and ten thousand practices of giving, holding precepts, patience, vigor, samadhi, and wisdom, and perfect the mind of compassion.