Richmond Buddhist Association / Hue Quang Temple

This profile was last updated in 2004

History

The Richmond Buddhist Association is one of the largest and oldest Buddhist temples in the Richmond area. It was founded in 1987. The group originally met at Ekoji Buddhist Sangha, where that temple’s founder, Rev. Tsuji, invited the Vietnamese community to establish itself. For three years they used the upstairs space at Ekoji, until they grew large enough to buy their own land and found a temple of their own. At first they used a small house that had been turned into a temple. In March of 2002 they began construction on an original temple, Hue Quang (meaning “Buddha’s Light,” the same as Ekoji), which opened in April of 2003.

A second source of the Richmond Buddhist Association’s past is a Vietnamese-style Zen group that met at Ekoji from 1998-2001. That group was invited to join with the RBA, so they disbanded and became members of the larger temple.
A succession of monastics have led the temple over the years. One of these monks, Thich Tue Chieu, left to found his own rival temple in Richmond last year. The current abbot of the Richmond Buddhist Association is Thich Hue Tam, who joined the temple in April of 2003. A nun, Thich Nhu Thao, has also served the temple part-time for many years.

Activities and Schedule

Regular services are held on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. They begin with 30 minutes of meditation, followed by Vietnamese chanting of the Heart Sutra, Mantra of Compassion, and the names of various Buddhas and bodhisattvas. This is followed by a dharma talk of 30-45 minutes, delivered by the abbot. Afterward, a vegetarian lunch is served. These services attract about 25-30 participants on average.

The former Zen group also holds its own services at the temple on Saturday afternoons, from 4-7 p.m. They begin by chanting the repentence verse, then meditate for an hour. This is followed by a Dharma talk, either by the abbot or on tape. The session ends with a discussion of the talk. These sessions draw about six people on average.
In addition, the temple hosts a range of other activities. On weekdays there is an hour-long meditation and chanting service at 6 a.m., and a 45 minute chanting service at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday afternoons there is a Vietnamese-language school for the community’s children, and a youth group meets late on Sunday afternoon.
Holidays and festivals are an important part of the temple’s life. Celebrations such as Ullambana, dedicated to mothers and the deceased, draw 200-300 people for a full day of chanting, performances, dharma talks, and lots of vegetarian food.

Demographics

The Richmond Buddhist Association has about 80 families, roughly 500 total members. Most are Vietnamese-American, but 25 percent are of Chinese-Vietnamese ancestry. A small number of European-Americans (less than 20) also attend the temple from time to time. Members from several other Buddhist groups, such as Ekoji and the Cambodian Buddhist Association of Richmond, occassionally come to events, and sometimes RBA members visit these temples in turn.

Description

The new Hue Quang temple is Richmond’s only structure originally built as a Buddhist temple. Emulating traditional Vietnamese temple architecture in appearance, it has a large main shrine room with statues of Buddha and various bodhisattvas. In the back is a curtained area with two altars dedicated to deceased temple members, a dining room/classroom, quarters for the monastics, and a kitchen.