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Chua Phap Bao

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Basic information
Address:
7501 Oak Lane Rd, Elkins Park, PA 19027, USA
Sectarian affiliation(s):
  • Mahayana
Cultural, linguistic, ethnic affiliation(s):
  • Vietnamese
Geographic Origins of Institution or Founder:
  • Vietnam
Best time to visit:

Every evening 8:30–10pm, Sundays 11–2.

Date last visited: February 28, 2017
Currently active?: As of the last time it was visited by our research team, this location was open.
Other Basic Information:

Vietnamese Mahayana (Pure Land) temple. Affiliated with a temple of the same name in Vietnam. Two monks in residence, and a third regularly visits.

Local setting, neighborhood, demographics

The temple is located in suburban Elkins Park. The temple can expect about a hundred attendees for service, with a wide age range. The majority are Vietnamese, and the language of the service is Vietnamese. The temple is a converted Christian church building that has a statue of Avalokiteśvara (Quan Âm) outside the main entrance. Inside there are many different rooms, each with their own purpose. There is the main temple space for chanting that has an altar with a range of deities, a room for honoring the dead with incense, a hallway full of Buddhist texts, and a basement fitted for community lunches and recreational activities for the youth.

Connections with medicine, healing, wellness

The temple offers meditation to clear the mind of troubles and inconveniences, as well as cau sieu, chants to free the deceased from the physical world and help them move onto the afterlife. Healing prayers focus on the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Quan Âm), who can heals the sick and injured, and aids people with all troubles. In order to for the chant to be successful, one must believe in her abilities and authority. The temple is also socially active in the aid they provide to the poor.

Traditional Vietnamese herbal medicine (thuoc nam) is utilized for those who are suffering from various diseases (in the interview, apoplexy, a series of stroke, cerebral hemorrhages, unconsciousness, and dizziness were specifically mentioned). The body might be scraped with a nickel coin (cao gio) to release illness. The temple also emphasizes vegetarianism for health and ethical reasons. A vegetarian diet helps digest easier and prevents meat-related illnesses.

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