The Chinese Buddhist Temple
The largest Chinese Buddhist temple in Europe is located in Amsterdam. Known as He Hua (or Lotus Flower Temple), it is situated in Chinatown, about a half hour’s walk from the Kushi Institute. It was completed in 2000.
The entrance has three gates symbolizing the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma (or teachings) and the Sangha (or community). The central shrine inside is dedicated to Kwan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. She has multiple hands that make symbolic gestures (mudras) and hold symbolic objects. She is flanked by two statues of Wei Tuo en Qie-Lan, legendary protectors of the Dharma and the temple. Visitors can purchase and offer incense or piece of fruit at the shrine.
Another shrine is dedicated to Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha. Nearby are two pagodas containing hundreds of small Buddha statues. These symbolize the universal Buddha nature that is present everywhere. Besides the main hall, a level below has a Jade Buddha Shrine, and the complex also includes a meditation hall, a hall for honoring ancestors, a meeting room, classrooms, a library, a dining room and bedrooms.
Situated on Zeedijk street, the temple is in the Nieuwmarkt section of the city. On Saturdays there is a street market, including sourdough bread and sugar- and dairy-free pastries from a macrobiotic bakery. Chinatown itself has many interesting shops and markets with fresh Chinese broccoli and other hard to find vegetables.
The temple is open Tues-Sat 12 - 5pm; Sun 10am - 5pm; closed Mondays and January 1. Admittance is free. Tours are available Saturdays at 2, 3 and 4pm for 30 minutes; no appointment needed. For further information see the temple website or phone 31.20.420 2357.
The Kushi Institute of Europe programs, including the Spiritual Training Programs, feature chants and mantras from various traditions and cultures, including some associated with Kuan Yin.
The Chant to Protect Children:
OM KAKAKABI SANMAEYI SOWAKA
This is the traditional mantra for spiritual guidance, nourishment, and protection of the earth. It is associated with Jizo, one of the most beloved of all Japanese gods. Jizo appears in various forms to eliminate suffering in the world. He is the guardian of the unborn, the aborted, miscarried, and stillborn babies and guides spirits from the next life to their parents on earth. He also protects travelers and pilgrims.
At the Kushi Institute in the United States, the Children’s Shrine in the forest featured annual ceremonies in which this mantra was chanted by parents who had lost their children at birth, through abortion, illness, or accident. It is also chanted by expectant mothers and fathers or anyone who wishes to have children.
To perform this chant, sit quietly in any comfortable position, with hands in your lap or the prayer position, and repeat aloud for several minutes. It may also be chanted silently. This chant and others are featured in selected programs at the Kushi Institute of Europe, including the Spiritual Training Seminar.