Chinatown Temple Tour + Dharma Talk/Q&A and Veg Dim Sum Brunch
*** I know this is very short noticed and a very cold month but Venerable Benkong Shi will be out of the country for many months. So if you're willing to brave the February chill, join us.
This is one of our favorite events! Like last year, we've added an extra good twist, we've ask the resident American monk of Grace Gratitude Buddhist Temple, Venerable Benkong Shi, to give us a quick intro plus Q&A. (His bio below)
For brunch we're headed to Buddha Bodhai on 77 Mulberry, it is Vegan and Kosher Dim Sum, wow! The estimated cost is $12-$15 per person, you can share or attempt to get your own check with the wait staff.
11:00 AM - arrive at Grace Gratitude Buddhist Temple
12:30 PM - brunch at Buddha Bodai
1:30 PM - leave brunch for other temples.
3:00 PM - finish the temple tour
Depending on the time available, we plan to visit four (or five) Buddhist temples, including oldest Buddhist temple in the East Coast, a temple with a statue of Eleven-Head Thousand-Arm Bodhisattva of Compassion or Avalokitesvara. These temples have served the local community for nearly half a century.
We'll go inside the temple if we can, however if there are any service at the temples, we will stay outside. Remember to wear a warm jacket and comfortable walking shoes.
American Society of Buddhist Studies (Chan, 1974)
Grace Gratitude Buddhist Temple (Chan & Pureland, 1974)
Eastern Buddhist Association (Chan & Pureland, 1973)
The Eastern States Buddhist Temple (Pureland, 1962)
See you soon,
-- Venerable Benkong's Bio ---
Venerable Benkong Shi
Ven. Benkong has been a resident monk at Grace Gratitude Buddhist Temple 佛恩寺, 48 East Broadway, New York City, Manhattan Chinatown, since November 2005. He is presently training interpreters and translators of Buddhism in his workshops called Buddha Dharma Translation Teams (BDTT) 佛法翻譯同好會. He is a volunteer Chinese Medical Interpreter at New York Presbyterian Hospital-New York Weill Cornell Medical Center. He is also working with health organizations to screen people in Chinatown for Hepatitis B and C and offers them case management and support. He provides Buddhist services at a local federal prison.
Ven. Benkong has been a monk since June, 2001. He became a monk in Africa where he lived for 12 years prior to returning to NYC. In 1993, he established an NGO, non-government organization (non-profit) in South Africa, called Center for Positive Care (www.posicare.co.za), which offers HIV/AIDS programs and services to the HIV+ community in Limpopo Province of South Africa. Ven. Benkong believes that his work in AIDS led him to a spiritual life and finally becoming a monk. He practices Chinese Mahayana Maitreya Pure Land Buddhism emphasizing the Bodhisattva Path, which is cultivating oneself by helping others.
Ven. Benkong was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, USA, in 1952. He began studying Chinese at the age of 16 at a Seton Hall University summer program for high school students, and went to Taiwan 17 in 1969. He then studied in the Asian Studies Department at Seton Hall University, and then Fu Jen University in Taiwan where he studied Chinese history and philosophy.
Ven. Benkong returned to the USA in 1986 and first worked in the San Francisco with children of Chinese immigrants in youth homes for severely emotionally disturbed children and adolescents. At this time he was also caring for a friend’s partner of who had AIDS. This was his first experience with HIV/AIDS.
At the height of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, AIDS was impacting new immigrant Mandarin speaking Chinese population in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ven. Benkong became one of the first Mandarin speaking HIV educators. He worked at the University of California, San Francisco, AIDS Health Project beginning in 1990. During this time he also acquired an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from the Professional School of Psychology.
A return visit to South Africa in 1989 convinced him that his mission was to set up an HIV/AIDS NGO there. While on his mission in South Africa he became convinced that Buddhism offers solutions to the suffering we experience in the human realm. He then dedicated himself to Buddhist practice along with his AIDS work.
After spending 27 years in Africa and Asia, Ven. Benkong was accepted by the abbess of Grace Gratitude Buddhist Temple to concentrate on his Buddhist practice and as well as training translators and interpreters of Buddhism. His training sessions are available in the USA, Taiwan, South Africa, Malawi and Scotland via the internet. He is active in Chinese immigrant HIV education, Hepatitis B programs, outreach and advocacy. He continues to support the work of AIDS organizations in Africa.