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Watpaknam Michigan Opens Minds and Beliefs Through Buddhism

By Pamela Sosnowski

The religion of Buddhism dates back thousands of years and has its roots in India. Today, Buddhism is practiced all over the world, including in Sterling Heights where the Buddhist Meditation Center (also known as Watpaknam Michigan) is located. The temple was founded in 2009, and welcomes practicing Buddhists as well as those unfamiliar with its teachings from all over the world.

"Our temple is open to all," says Dr. Suchiraphon McKeithen-Polish, the BMS Officer. "We provide teaching of meditation and mindfulness. We respect all living things, and we understand that life is impermanent. Our culture follows the same philosophy. We are the people of the land of 'smile'?Thailand."

There is five core teachings at the heart of Buddhism: "No killing, no stealing, no adultery, no lies/gossips and no drinking alcohol or abusing alcohol or drugs of any kind," explains Dr. McKeithen-Polish. "Key point is mindfulness through following these five concepts and meditation. If we can follow them, our livelihood will benefit for not only for ourselves but for family and society."

The temple is open daily from 6AM to 8PM, with a daily morning chant and meditation offered as soon as the doors open. An evening chant and meditation takes place every evening at 7 PM and at 6 PM during the winter months. There are a few rules that all visitors must abide by: shoes must be removed when entering the building, and modest, comfortable clothing is encouraged.

For women, that means their shoulders, chest, and legs should be covered. No one is obligated to make a donation or any kind of offering to the temple and the resident monks must be greeted by bowing to them with the palms pressed together as if one is praying or giving thanks.

First time visitors and those new to Buddhism are encouraged to attend one of the English Dharma Nights that are offered several times throughout the year. These evening sessions are held in English and introduce attendees to the resident monks and provide a primer on Buddhism, including explaining the basic principles of the religion, chanting, bowing, and how to meditate. Guests then participate in a night chanting and meditation practice and listen to a dharma talk, or sermon, by one of the resident monks. The evening concludes with a question and answer session.

On November 20 the temple will host the annual Thanksgiving Community Gathering, which is being presented by community leaders in the Sterling Heights area. The evening will feature presentations from youth and interfaith community leaders, following by donuts & cider and appetizers.

"On Sunday, November 13th, we will have a "Loy Krathong Festifval". Loy Krathong is Thailand's very own 'festival of lights' and paying respect to Mother Earth/Water", says Polish. "It is the launching of a krathong ? a floating lotus floats, carrying candles and joss sticks, as well as all of your wishes. It represents floating away bad luck and brings back to you good luck. It will take place at 9:30am - 2:30pm, at the Buddhist Meditation Center. It is one of the most beautiful traditions in Thailand. Come and join us!"

Watpaknam strives to be a place where people can find peace during their hectic daily lives, and open their minds to exploring a new religion and way of life. Visitors can learn more about the temple and its services by visiting its website at www.watpaknam.com or by following them on Facebook.

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About The Author

Pamela Sosnowski is a freelance writer, social media manager, contributor for REBEAT...

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