Center Profile

Archived: Greater Boston Buddhist Cultural Center (2014)

Chinese (Buddhism)

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About

GBBCC strive to introduce the values and philosophy of Humanistic Buddhism to our congregation and our community, by providing educational opportunities, sponsoring cultural events, engaging in charity work, and conducting religious and meditation services.

Description

History

The Greater Boston Buddhist Cultural Center (GBBCC) was established in 1999 as a branch temple of Fo Guang Shan—the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. Fo Guang Shan (Buddha’s Light Mountain), founded in 1967 by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, is a Chinese Mahayana monastic order that promotes a modern form of Chinese Humanistic Buddhism. Fo Guang Shan seeks to make Buddhist teachings relevant to all people in the 21st century, promote peace and harmony among all and create a Pure Land on Earth. Fo Guang Shan’s international lay organization, Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA), enables lay members to volunteer at temples and participate in social service. With over 140 branch temples worldwide, Fo Guang Shan is a monastic order with a global presence. As a branch temple of Fo Guang Shan, GBBCC opened its doors in Cambridge in 1999. The Center serves the Greater Boston community and carries out the objectives of Fo Guang Shan to “propagate Buddhist teachings through cultural activities, foster talent through education, benefit society through charitable programs and to purify human hearts and minds through Buddhist practice.” To learn more about Fo Guang Shan, please click here

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Description

Located on Massachusetts Avenue between Central Square and Harvard Square, GBBCC is in the throes of urban life. Nonetheless, the center provides a haven of calm and an opportunity for visitors to learn and practice. Located in a commercial area and housed in a building that was previously a restaurant, GBBCC has effectively utilized their space. There is a reception desk in the entrance area with information in English and Chinese about the temple’s programs, pamphlets detailing local activities for the Chinese community and glass shelves with Buddhist and cultural items for sale including Buddha figures, incense, prayer beads, tea and tea sets. Facing the entrance area is the temple’s modest bookstore with books in English and Chinese on Buddhism, Asian culture, vegetarian cooking and wellness. To the left of the entrance is the meditation hall. The perimeter of the carpeted hall is lined with raised wooden meditation benches with meditation cushions. A large altar with three Buddha statues at the front of the hall serves as the focal point for worship. As a multi-purpose room, the meditation hall is utilized for Sunday devotional practices and services, individual meditation and cultural classes offered by the center. To the right of the entrance, there is a teahouse/vegetarian dining room that serves Chinese vegetarian cuisine. The teahouse is open for lunch Tuesday-Sunday, 11 am-6 pm. In addition, the dining area is used for group dinners, meetings, classes, art exhibitions and fundraising events.

Activities and Schedule

The center boasts a great number of activities for visitors and members of all ages and backgrounds. For the Chinese-speaking community, full services are held in Chinese each Sunday and include bowing, chanting and mediation. For the English-speaking community, there is a ‘Dinner with Dharma’ program held on the second and fourth Friday of each month. With meditation, dinner, a dharma talk and discussion, this program teaches locals about Buddhism and meditation in an informal and community-oriented environment. The center also offers a variety of other classes throughout the year including children’s meditation, tai chi, yoga, vegetarian cooking, Chinese watercolor painting and calligraphy. GBBCC hosts a number of annual celebrations including the Buddha’s birthday, a five-day repentance ceremony over Thanksgiving and a Chinese New Year celebration. GBBCC also participates in a number of cultural events and interfaith activities. With education as a focal point of the center’s mission, the nuns frequently participate in outreach programs to local elementary, middle and high schools to teach students about Buddhism and also offer a Secondary School tour program to enable students to visit the center. Children who are members of the temple are also welcomed to participate in a regional summer camp hosted in Orange County in upstate New York. The center maintains very hospitable relations with their neighbors in the area. The nuns host open houses and lend out furnishings for neighborhood events. GBBCC strongly advocates community participation and outreach and often donates vegetarian food to the homeless and canned food to churches. The center is open to the public Tuesday-Sunday, 11 am-6 pm. The meditation hall is open for individual meditation Tuesday-Sunday, 3-5 pm. For further information and specific dates and times, please contact Venerable Man Kuang at 617-547-6670 or stop by the center.

Temple Leadership

Two nuns act as the spiritual directors of the temple and run the daily operations. Additionally, the two nuns receive help from approximately 20 local volunteers who are members of the lay organization, Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA).

Demographics

There are approximately 40-50 Chinese members and 30 others that are primarily Euro-American and also representative of the diversity of the Cambridge and Greater Boston area.

Date Center Founded
1999

Religious Leader and Title
Venerable Man Guang & Venerable Man Ching

Membership
40-50 Chinese members, 30 others

Ethnic Composition
multi-ethnic

Affiliation with Other Communities/Organizations
Fo Guang Shan