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Phat Bao Temple

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Basic information
Address:
6427 Large St, Philadelphia, PA 19149, USA
Sectarian affiliation(s):
  • Mahayana
Cultural, linguistic, ethnic affiliation(s):
  • Vietnamese
Geographic Origins of Institution or Founder:
  • Vietnam
Best time to visit:

Meditation practice daily at 7pm, main service Sun. 10:30am.

Date last visited: April 8, 2018
Currently active?: As of the last time it was visited by our research team, this location was open.
Other Basic Information:

Established 2009 in a repurposed Catholic church. Like many Vietnamese temples in the region, this temple has a prevalent statue of Avalokiteśvara (Quan Âm) in front of the entrance. Interior altars focus on the Buddha, Avalokiteśvara, Kṣitigarbha. There are two monks that are in residence here, and there are nuns that come here to visit from other temples but do not live there. One of the monks is a disciple of a prominent monk in Thailand.

Local setting, neighborhood, demographics

This family-focused temple caters to attendees of all ages. We are told about 90% of participants are of Vietnamese descent, and about 10% Chinese. According to census data, there has been a significant Vietnamese population in the surrounding neighborhoods since at least 1980.

Connections with medicine, healing, wellness

The temple teaches meditation on Sundays, which is said to help practitioners achieve inner peace by connecting the mind and body, leading to healthy thoughts and a healthy mind. The interviewees mentioned bowing to Quan Âm (Avalokiteśvara) as a health practice, and the idea that the energy exerted for each bow will be returned to help repair the body.

They also claim that the vegetarian food they serve has some health benefits, as they help to gain good karma and to prevent diseases and sickness. Some specific ingredients are claimed to help with digestion, help improve sleep, and so forth.

As many of the people who attend this temple work in health fields, the temple periodically operates a health clinic for the community offering blood pressure checks and other basic health exams. The temple also collects toys for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

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