Varieties of Buddhist Healing in Multiethnic Philadelphia
This project explores the role of Buddhist institutions, practices, and cultural orientations in the health landscape of Greater Philadelphia. Our website seeks to bring more diverse voices into the contemporary conversation about Buddhism and wellbeing. We hope it will be a useful resource for teaching and research projects related to American Buddhism, religious pluralism, and the intersections between religion and healthcare in the contemporary U.S.
We invite you to begin by exploring one of the following themes, or jump straight to the Temple Finder.
Buddhists, particularly those affiliated with various forms of Mahayana, have long engaged in prayer and chanting as healing practices. Through chanting, buddhas and bodhisattvas are called upon to help prevent or cure illness, disasters, and bad luck. These incantations are often accompanied by incense burning, the giving of offerings, and other common forms of ritual devotion, and can be performed privately or in large communal rites. Texts often chanted for healing purposes by Mahayana practitioners include the Bhaiṣajyaguru Sūtra, the Great Compassion Mantra, and portions of the Lotus Sūtra. A wide range of other sūtras, dhāraṇīs, and/or mantras may be used in other forms of Buddhism.
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Featured Video: Montage of various temples in Philadelphia city
Buddhist temples thrive in all kinds of environments. While American popular media stereotypically depict temples in serene scenes and quiet rural environments, most Buddhist institutions in this country are located in densely populated urban areas. Many temples in Philadelphia are highly visible due to their use of traditional Asian aesthetics and architectural elements. Others are located within renovated or repurposed churches, or are hidden away inside nondescript row houses. In whatever form they take, however, Buddhist temples are common features of the urban landscape of modern Philadelphia, and are integrated visually and socially into the neighborhoods that they serve.