Cultural Pilgrimage: Reflections from our visit to a Buddhist Temple and Hindu Temple #learningisbigger #commentsforkids #denver

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My experience with the Hindu and Buddhist temples was good. All of the people we met showed great hospitality and shared amazing wisdom, and we can learn a lot from what they believe. From Buddhists, we can learn to persevere through the hardships of life. As the Buddha himself allegedly said, “Life is suffering”, and is believed to have risen above suffering and attained nirvana. Even if we may not believe this to be true, we can still learn perseverance, no matter what struggles we may face in our lives.

Now let’s see what Hindus bring to the table. At the Hindu temple, Ananda said that God’s forgiveness is greater than His justice, which goes to show that just as Christians believe that God is merciful, Hindus do too. We can also learn to be more loving and devoted to our God like Hindus do. When they give offerings to God, the point is not that God takes the offering, but rather accepts their love and devotion to Him. We struggle with that a lot, considering the temptations of this world.

The things I mentioned are few of many lessons to be learned from these people, but nonetheless important.   –Jackson

 
Going a second time to the Hindu and Buddhist temple has given me a new perspective. Buddhism is such a unique religion. After going a second time I still don’t fully understand it. One of my favorite concepts of this religion is “to live a simple but fulfilled life.” (Diana) I feel that sometimes my life is to crowded. I can’t live a fulfilled life. Another one of my favorite concepts is the lotus flower. It grows in dirt but comes out beautiful. We are all broken in some way but when we become enlightened we are glued back together. One thing I learned was that we all have differences but instead of looking at the flaws we should honor our differences. Hinduism is a fascinating religion. I learned that Hinduism revolves around hidden service and putting other before your self. “The nature of the sole is to serve.” (Tushta)  We should not serve in a boastful way. We should serve in a hidden way. I learned that when we serve it should be un motivated and we get more out of it if we give rather than take. Overall this was an incredible religious pilgrimage and I am so sad this is my last time.  — Alli

 

I live in a world of glass. It’s a world where reality lays just beyond the bend. It’s a world where sometimes I can feel like I can reach out and grasp God, but then that barrier of glass reality slaps me in the face. I realize how far I really am from grasping God. “No one is perfect.”(Diana Thompson). I may know that deep down in my heart that I am no where close to God, but I still reach out my hand to try and touch him. I realize that my world of glass is as clear as me. It is as blind and lost as me. When ever I get slap in the face with reality, God always lifts me up and tells me try again. Whether it is through yoga, enlightenment, or wishful thinking, he will always lift me back up. Right as I am about to give up and escape my world of glass to enter into hell, I remember. I remember how God is always there. I remember that with the remembrance of God there can never be hell. I remember that God will always lift me up and tell me to try again. So I try. I try with the little speck of energy that I have left to reach God. This time, instead of reaching out to try and grasp him, I close my eyes and fall. I fall right through the glass barriers into Gods waiting arms, and hear him say, “All you had to do was close your eyes and trust me.”  –Mak

 
Looking back on my experience going to the Buddhist and Hindu temple was really cool for me because I got to change my perspective even more on religion. What I could contribute to my life from the Buddhist temple was to be more enlightened with me and others. I also really like what Diana said about karma. If you do something good or bad it will come back to you, but if you spread happiness it will lead and chain reaction to others. (Diana). In the Hindu temple I felt peace and comfort through the song that Tushta and Ananda sang and what we were discussing. My favorite quote from the day was, “Every word is a song and every step is a dance” (Tushta).  What that meant to me was that everything we do is either worshiping God or going against him. Our body can be good and bad depending on our mind and actions. I really enjoyed going to the Buddhist and Hindu temple and stepping out of my comfort zone.  –Charleigh

 
Buddhism:
Look to find peace through different perspectives. “People see things in different ways.”(Diana Thompson). Everyone is not always going to agree on the same thing. God made us to think differently but unique. In the Buddhism religion there are three different kinds of peace, finding peace within, finding peace with our peers and finding peace with nature. Discovering those three different kinds of peace looks different to everyone. In my opinion If you discover the three peace’s that will make God easier to find and to talk to, because you’re not in a rush to find peace. This also reminds me of the Buddhist symbol because Diana said the wheel also represents that everyone has their own path and none of the paths were the same. Looking through different perspectives matter.  –Maddie

 
Hinduism:
We need to be true servants. “True happiness is service.” (Tushta. When we are true servants we are happy. Hidden service is the best kind of service. Another thing that stood out to me was when Anada talked about how if we had a bracelet we can see all the beads, but the thing that is holding it together is the string. God is the string. God works in our life in so many different ways maybe it’s through others or scripture, but God talks to us through something. He can also show Himself through perspectives. I felt like I could feel God in the Hindu temple. It is cool to learn more about these religions and get a new perspective on it.   –Lauren

 
There is lotus flowers in the muck, and a thread that holds together a pearl bracelet. We are constantly under the muck, in the rubble of destruction. We are stuck there with everyone else. Our brains break down, instead of our hearts breaking free, but beauty still lives inside us. We have to unleash the beauty and become the one flower that blooms through brokenness and the lotus that perfectly settles in the midst of muck. When we become this beauty we inspire others to sprout as well. Everything is connected. “Karma is considering what you do because you effect others.” (Dianna, Buddhist teacher). Karma is always happening because our actions are constantly impacting others. We are all pearls on a bracelet, all connected by a thread. “We might not see the thread but the thread is needed. The thread is God.” (Ananda, Hindu teacher). At the temples today I realized that Buddhism doesn’t really have much structure. Buddhism believes everything is connected, but it’s as if the Buddhist people don’t see the thread that holds us together. The tread which is God. There are many great practices in Buddhism like the eight-fold path, which teaches doing right and being aware, yet there was an absence of structure and faith. Dianna seemed open to almost any beliefs, but she didn’t appear to have her own. On the other hand, at the Hindu temple I really could see they believed in a greater being. The Hindu people believe in Krishna, the thread of all. “Every word is a song and every step is a dance.” (Tushta, Hindu Teacher). The Hindu religion was constantly singing, listening, and dancing for God. Devotion and surrender were two words that were brought up. God constantly sculpts us, but we have to allow Him. We must surrender and meditate in devotion. When we serve we are dancing and singing. Service is a huge part of what Tushta taught us. “A person who is in a giving mood feels much more fulfillment.” (Tushta). Especially in the world today we are told fulfillment comes through materialistic items, but when we serve others the fulfillment we feel is much deeper than then our torn skin, we fill the void within us. Overall, these trips today are an eye opening experience and pull me closer to God in an abundance of ways. I feel inspired to be the beauty when there is brokenness and to thank and celebrate the Thread that holds all creation together.  — Megan

 
This experience at the Buddhist temple fed the lotus flower that is starting to bloom within my spirit. We are all stuck in the muck, but we all have the potential to blossom into to be beautiful and pristine like the lotus flower. (Diana Thomson). We must recognize the inner beauty each one of us has before we can go on and place it amongst the universe. One of the ways we can portray this beauty amongst the world is by being aware that our every action has an affect somewhere else. “Everything we do here and now has an affect somewhere else.”(Diana Thomson). Everything is interconnected; therefore what we do impacts the world around us. We have control over what we spit out into the universe whether it be good or bad. We choose to nourish the world with good actions or break it with our selfish and over attached ways.
What we do whether it be good or bad tends to come back to us. We must be cautious of what we place in society because not only will it come back to us, but it will either hurt or encourage others. “Its not what you get back, but rather how it affects others.”(Diana Thomson). Sometimes we will fail at inducing love and joy within others, but even if there are unintended consequences we must prevail.
I appreciated when Diana Thomson was talking about how service is in fact extremely important in our daily lives. I was inspired by the offerings the Buddhists would offer to the Buddha because it showed their humility and the importance to give before you yourself takes. (Diana Thomson). This experience fed my inner lotus flower with the importance of service, inner beauty, our actions, and most importantly that everything is interconnected.
There is a supreme Divine in this world and this Divine is the reservoir of all beauty. This experience opened my eyes once more that Hinduism is a similar reflection to my own view of God. God is like the thread that strings underneath every pearl attached to it. At first you may not see the thread, but it is there and holds everything together. (Ananda). Together both the pearls and the thread create a beautiful piece of art. God holds all of us together sculpting a masterpiece in the end. It takes time to sculpt a masterpiece out of muck, but first we must find the yolk between us and the Lord. We must connect with God. When we connect with the Lord we will understand how truly magnificent the Divine is. We often confine God to a certain race or religion, but God has no limits. God has no limits, he is just God. (Tushta). Humans limit themselves of what we can and can’t do. We accept the idea of serving, yet we never take action because of the borders we set for ourselves. I loved how both Tushta and Ananda were talking about the importance of serving others. Serving others satisfies our hunger for purpose and also is what we are called to do. If a person is giving they feel fulfilled. (Tushta). When we love God and recognize God loves us we will extend that love throughout the universe, feel fulfilled, and help others feel fulfilled as well. I also appreciated the perspective Ananda took on hell. Hell is just the act of forgetting God.(Ananda). When we forget God we are not fulfilled and our hunger for beauty is not quenched. We must always look towards God and see the thread underneath even in hardships because the Divine is the reservoir for all beauty and beauty prevails.  — Macie

 

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Reflections from a Cultural Pilgrimage Day 2: Synagogue

Student reflections from Team Fink, Day 2 of their cultural pilgrimage to a local synagogue.

 

Rabbi Susan has such passion today, which I really appreciated because she just believed and followed her faith and it seems a good example for us. We should walk the walk and not just talk the talk. I learned the Jewish religion has so much to do with community and acceptance of others. Instead of I and Mine, it is Ours and Us. They believe in love and strive to show it. I still wonder why they insist Jesus is not the Messiah and why they don’t believe all the bible and some of the ways Rabbi Susan answered our questions was kind of defensive, yet she had shown excitement and joy in her teaching and knew lots. Over all this exposure helped me learn and gain a new perspective of Judaism, but there is always room to discover more.
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Temple Saini was an eye opening experience for the Jewish religion. I never knew that that actually still used scrolls, I thought they just had a book. Susan explained to us many different things aou the Jewish faith that I had no idea about. For example the first Jew that came to the USA, and what the star symbol represented. There are three kinds of Jewish faiths, although I do not remember the names other than orthodox Jews, they all had a little bit different belief system than the others. One thing that I don’t agree with is that Jesus is not the son of God. I believe that Jesus was sent down as a human form of God, and Jesus was perfect just like his father in heaven. The Jewish people also do believe in prophets and they believe that Jesus was just a man who lived perfectly. That is the part that I don’t understand.  I feel that when we have humility and give up to God we will truly know him. There is no other way. The Lord is all knowing and is love, patience, goodness, kindness, and all the fruits of the spirit. The more we practice the fruits of the spirit, we can become more like God in multiple ways.
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I enjoyed being at a temple again this year. I learned more things and expanded on some topics from last year. One thing that really stood out is that she said messianic Jews weren’t actually Jews. She had a very strong feeling about that and it was surprising to me. This may not of been as interesting as Islam, but even Rabbi Susan knew about Islam too and I appreciated that about her.
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Surrounding communities are so different yet the same. Learning Judaism more in depth today as a second step to our religious pilgrimage helped me to better understand a community that was the historical beginning of Christianity. There were some conflicts today surrounding different topics but it helped bring our differences together.
I liked the history/cultural lesson in the beginning
How they feel about Jesus:I am still confused
People are born Jewish both religiously and blood
She was one of the first female rabbis in the USA

Reflections from Cultural Pilgrimage Day 1: Mosque

Reflections from Team Fink, Cultural Pilgrimage Day 1:

 

Sometimes we need to experience something twice to process it. Going to the Mosque for the second round made me feel more comfortable with different religions. There are many differences between Christianity and Islam, but we can also learn from people that don’t believe the same as we do. Today I learned more about women’s rights in Islam, their teachings and their beliefs. The one thing that stood out to me was the call for prayer (muezzin) and its translation. God is greater than anything we are doing this second, and the least we can do is think about him for a few minutes. What still stands with me is that we tend to spend not a lot of time focusing on God every day, while others dedicate their time each day to love and thank God.

Notes
Women are like diamonds
In order to thank or as for forgiveness from God, we a have to thank or apologize to the people we affected
Using Google, but not relying on it
They believe that Jesus did not die on the cross
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“Recently we were attacked by Muslim terrorists”
“The Islamic group ISIS has just destroyed..”
“We are still at war with Muslim Radicals”
“These people pose a great threat to our society”
There are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world. 95% are peaceful, only 5% are radical. That is still over 50 million people. 50 million people mixed with the media can make us think differently of the entire 1.7 billion.  In reality Islam isn’t the religion the media poses it to be. Visiting a Mosque can change the way you think. There are many different views of even Islam. It’s up to us to learn about these things and not just focus on the media.
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When Mati spoke to us it almost gave me goosebumps. One of my favorite topics he was talking about was when he said you need to acknowledge something before you fix something. Like with ourselves I the power of one we have to know who we are before we can fix ourselves. We are so quick to judge that we try to fix a religion or culture but we don’t even know it. He was also saying that we have a lot of similarities in religion but it is the differences that make it so unique. I loved that because we are always trying to get people to be a specific way but differences are something that we should admire. He talked a lot about how the most important source to learn from is books. He said that the we should use the Internet but not rely on it. I liked that he was saying that they think of woman more precious than jewels so they cover themselves to get rid of the distraction and to treat them not for their looks but for their minds. A part that Mati said was extremely powerful for me and I will remember it for a long time. Mati said, “God does not need us to pray, it is for our own benefit.” I loved that because God is perfect and righteous a person like that does not need people to bow down to him. God provides for us and he gives us the blessing to observe and choose for ourselves. Mati made a metaphor saying that God created man and woman differrent and that they are both needed. He said that one would be the transmission in the car and the other engine. You could have a really strong engine but without the transmission it could never move no matter how strong the engine is. You could have a great transmission but without the power of the engine it won’t go anywhere.
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I never in my life time thought that I would ever step foot in a mosque. I always thought that people who aren’t Christian are bad. That they are sinners and they are going to hell. Even though it was out of my comfort zone, it showed me a religion that was so strongly proud of what they believe. ” This wasn’t a strange place, it was a new one” ( The Alchemist). A man named Matt was speaking to us about his religion and his beliefs. Not word for word, but in quotes that he has made. One quote that stood out to me was, ” don’t trust google, find out for yourself.” I have always heard that but having him repeat it over and over hit me harder then anyone else saying it.
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Going to the mosque for a second time was different than before, especially having someone else teaching. I learned more about the religion and have a better understanding of it. I really liked the imam this time around. Some of the topics he told me about had better affect than last year. It was interesting and cool to hear about how people treat him since the attacks in Paris. When we were meeting his wife, she was fully covered. He even asked us, “doesn’t she look like she’s from a different land?” At first we laughed, and then he told us to be honest. We nodded, and he goes, “she’s completely American.” then smiled. She was the sweetest person I have ever met. I enjoyed this trip.
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This experience was eye opening to new cultures and religions. It gave me a new perspective on what Muslims believe and think about society. Something that I thought was cool was when they did the call for prayer because Matt was translating it for us. One of my favorite lines was ” God is the greatest, God is the greatest” because they take God and their religion so seriously. Something that I remembered that Matt said was, ” If a black person sat by a white person and asked him if he had fifty cents the white man would be quick to say no and look away. If a white man sat by a white man and asked him for fifty cents he would be going through his bag to find some money.” That stood out to me because it is acceptance and who society tell us we have to hang out with.
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Mati spoke to us about his religion and Cluture. He said that Christianity and Islam were very similar. Mati said Christianity and Islam both worship the same God. He said a lot of cool quotes. “Do not always rely on what people tell you.” People thought that Mati was a Muslim extrimest. We shouId not be so quick to judge. We should get to know someone not by looks but, by their 90%. Muslims have a lot of respect for God when they pray. It was really humbling for me when they put their noses to the floor to show that they are so much less then God. Christians just lay on the couch and do not pray respecfuly. Overall this was an amazing expirence to learn a different religion that I never knew.
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We talked to a Islamist with the name of Mati. He showed us the call for prayer (which was my favorite part) and showed us what he understood. Seeing the men do their prayer really stunned me and made me think about ‘they really love God and show it through their movements.’ It made me think on how the difference of prayer for Muslims and Christians. Why do we judge Muslims before we see what they do, they have better prayer than us.