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Preah Buddha Rangsey Temple

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Basic information
Address:
2400 S 6th St, Philadelphia, PA 19148, USA
Sectarian affiliation(s):
  • Theravada
Cultural, linguistic, ethnic affiliation(s):
  • Cambodian
Geographic Origins of Institution or Founder:
  • Cambodia
Best time to visit:

Daily food offerings at 11. Uposatha at 6pm, once per week according to the lunar calendar.

Date last visited: March 22, 2016
Currently active?: As of the last time it was visited by our research team, this location was open.
Other Basic Information:

Cambodian Theravada temple. Established in 2003 on 5th St., moved to current location in 2005. It now occupies two buildings across the street from each other. Eight monks currently in residence and official membership list of 3,500 people, making it the largest temple within Philadelphia city. The temple is planning to move to Vorhees, NJ, where a new location is currently under construction.

Local setting, neighborhood, demographics

Mostly Cambodian, but occasional Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, and Caucasian participants. Ceremonies can attract up to 100 attendees.

Connections with medicine, healing, wellness

Interviewee (a monk) mentioned the temple's role in helping members who do not speak English to understand the US healthcare system (Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) and to connect with the right resources (doctors, hospital, etc.). They also help with medical translation. The monk states that this is especially important for the elderly. The temple is also the headquarters of the Khmer Buddhist Humanitarian Association, a community services organization for Cambodian Philadelphians.

Interviewee mentioned the role of the temple in addressing the collective trauma of Cambodian immigrants who have suffered under the Khmer Rouge, and who may have ongoing mental and physical problems from this traumatic experience. He stresses the temple's role in building community, in providing "social healing," and in "preserving cultural identity." He states that the Buddhist teachings of peacefulness and forgiveness are especially important in overcoming stress and trauma, but that meditation is the practice that is most helpful in the process of mental, emotional and social healing. In addition, cultivating loving-kindness and following the five percepts together as a community helps everyone to achieve good karma and a good life in the present, which in turn helps prevent mental disturbances, illnesses, and other problems.

Interviewee says that when the monks get ill, they go to the hospital or use conventional medicines. However, he stresses that the mind and body are connected, and they need to be approached simultaneously. How the mind can best be treated is completely dependent on culture. The monk acknowledges that some rituals and ceremonies are done in the temple, but describes this as "cultural practices" that are done to make the members happy and comfortable. He denies the existence of supernatural beings or ghosts, and stresses the need to understand the human origins of unhappiness.

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