laughing buddhaSomehow, the idea of having 2,000 Buddhist temples in the U.S. doesn’t bother me at all – in fact, I rather like it (so far). I have been to a number of Buddhist temples and monasteries, and I find their color and joy far superior to the atmosphere of other houses of worship. Buddhist monks and nuns take themselves too seriously, not realizing that, in my opinion, such seriousness is the opposite of enlightenment. What happened to the laughing Buddha?

Still, if religion there must be – and I am not “anti-religion” per se – Buddhism is on the top of the heap, especially when it is refined by the egalitarian reforms of the American Constitution. In other words, the Buddhism we find in the U.S. (and the Hinduism, for that matter) are relatively free of the sexism and other troubling aspects found in Buddhist communities in other countries.  Buddhist also are not attempting to force their religion on others, with obnoxious proselytizing.

First Nepalese-Buddhist temple in US consecrated

The first Nepalese Buddhist temple in the United States has been consecrated in Portland, Oregon recently.

Of the 2,000 Buddhist temples and centers in the country, this is the first one devoted to a form of Buddhism practiced in Nepal. Kathmandu native Prajwal Ratna Vajracharya and American-born Helen Appell, along with two Nepalese priests traveling from Kathmandu, jointly inaugurated the Nritya Mandala Mahavihara.

Though local building and city codes required some design alterations, use of woodcarving, coloration and symbolic elements made it as close as a traditional Newar temple.

The consecration event opened with a procession of the Buddha statue in a festive palanquin on a two-mile route through Portland, complete with drums, cymbals, chanting and banners and more than a hundred participants…..