First Posted on 10/15/2018

“May all beings have happiness…”, is part of a traditional Buddhist prayer. I’m not a Buddhist but I assume this prayer is a way for devotees to send positive energy out into the universe. This act is so important for spiritual health, to wish well for our fellow beings in a sincere and selfless manner. Giving selflessly benefits all.

The largest Buddhist temple in the United States is right here in the Southern California city of Hacinda Heights. Hsi Lai Temple is a massive complex filled with treasure upon treasure, golden art and architecture converging. But much more, this is a quiet place for sacred and personal reflection. I felt uplifted from the start.

I wound my way up the one-way drive to the temple parking lot. The hillside garden below is beautifully manicured. I decided to start there.

This entrance garden is populated by an array of whimsical statutes.

The greenery, with it’s twisted trees and flowing hedges, has been shaped by a gentle artist’s hand.

I walked softly up the the stairs to the first building, Bodhisattva Hall.

Standing Guard – the grounds are protected by the effigies of fierce creatures and mythical warriors.

I toured around outside. There were more delightful little wonders awaiting discovery.

Pikachu?!

I passed through the first building, which is lovely. (Take note, photography is forbidden inside the buildings). I stepped into a courtyard, quite large with a green, geometrical pattern underfoot. Before me stood the magnificent Main Temple.

I took my time and explored the courtyard. The walkways are lined with sculpture, piece upon piece.

Buddha with Swastika on his chest. I’ve seen the symbol used before in art predating Nazi Germany.

One of the highlights are these colorful dioramas depicting famous scenes from Buddhist lore.

Guy Rides Tiger, Guy Sits on Deer

I made my way up the steps in front of the Main Temple, admiring the architectural details of these buildings. Does it really take all of those beams to make the roof corners curve up like they do, or are they just decorative? Whatever the answer, they look amazingly complicated.

Looking down at Bodhisattva Hall and then up to the Main Shrine.

In front of the Main Shrine is this large incense burner. Sweet smoke carried my spirit higher. I lit a stick and placed it inside the burner – an offering, with respect to the traditions practiced here, and a prayer for a more harmonious World.

Camera off, I entered the Main Shrine. Thousands of small golden lights bathed the room in a serene glow. It felt like I was sitting in a giant jewelry box. Followers, bowed, chanted and prayed. I closed my eyes and tapped into the power of this place and this moment in time. Thanks for the hospitality, Hsi Lai Temple.

While in the area, I dropped in on three roadside attractions, coincidentally all food related. The first, two fake McDonald’s used as sets to film TV commercials. The buildings are not open to the public but I was still able to get a pretty good look. To hit different target audiences, one restaurant is in an urban setting and the other suburban.

My next stop was the Donut Hole. I love stuff like this. Customers get to drive through the giant doughnut when they pick-up their order. A (w)hole lot of fun!

My final stop was in Baldwin Park – the Mecca for In-N-Out Burger fanatics. There is a modern restaurant, a store where they sell In-N-Out merchandise, and a building labeled In-N-Out University. But the best is this replica of the very first restaurant, a tiny stand that blossomed into a Southern California fast food institution.

The display was actually closed on this day. At first I took pictures from behind a fence. A man walked into the display followed shortly by a group of young people wearing In-N-Out T-shirts. As the the group entered the gate the man waved me in as well. He didn’t have to do that. What a great guy! All the kids were cool as well. None of this really surprises me. I’ve sometimes wondered how In-N-Out gets their employees to be so darn nice! Photo 2 -Vintage washing machine they used to wash the French fries. Photo 3 – Inside the tiny workspace.

Thanks In-N-Out! Love Ya!

The post Peaceful Tourist Presents: May All Beings Have Happiness: Hsi Lai Temple first appeared on Silent Hiker.