Arts + Culture, Division 1January 16, 2023 / 4 minute read

A place for good in Priestdale

What seems like an urban renewal project – accommodation, a conference hall, an art gallery and even a café – is actually the expansion of a cultural icon and one of the City of Logan’s hidden gems.

Complete with first century architecture and dragon gargoyles, this is Priestdale’s Fo Guang Shan Chung Tian Buddhist Temple located next to Underwood Park at the end of Underwood Road.

In alignment with founder Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s mission to share the teachings of Humanistic Buddhism, the temple has become a hub for what he calls The Three Acts of Goodness: good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.

The teachings take the form of weekly Chinese language classes, meditation classes, charity fundraising, religious services, youth groups including the Buddha’s Light Scouts Group, and annual events that draw crowds in the tens of thousands, like Chinese New Year, the Buddha Birth Day Festival and the Moon Festival.

Venerable Manwang, Abbess of Chung Tian Temple, says it’s all about sharing.

‘We don’t push Buddhism – the temple exists for us to share the good word and pass the message to all our visitors,’ she says.

‘We share our temple with everyone, no matter what religion or age.’

To meet the growing needs of the community, the first stage of expansion – which includes a new art gallery, dining hall and multi-purpose conference halls – has just been completed.

These additions are wholly funded by donations.

Venerable Manwang is most looking forward to the final addition, the main shrine.

‘I spent six years here from when the temple was first built in 1991 and I can finally see the vision Venerable Master Hsing Yun had for Logan 30 years ago,’ she says.

‘The temple is an important icon that represents religion, education, charity and culture. The emphasis is on legacy – we plant the seed, let it grow and when it gets bigger and bigger, it can help more people for years to come.’

‘Thirty years ago, we didn’t even have a road or streetlights, we were just nuns in the bush – but our Master  could see the big picture that nobody else could.’

That big picture includes an increased interest in both Buddhism and Asian culture.

‘Wallabies used to be our only visitors,’ Venerable Manwang says.

‘We now get lots of interest in our English and Mandarin language, meditation and Buddhism classes.’

The Abbess recalls the story of a Logan local who visited the temple 25 years ago and is now a monk in the Blue Mountains.

In a letter he wrote to her, he expressed gratitude for the temple and how it allowed him to develop his faith.

Although much has changed since the temple was first built, it remains a natural haven nestled in bushland for humans and wallabies alike seeking the same thing – peace.

‘Many think that monks join a monastery because they have no other choice, but it’s rather a difference in what you truly want,’ Venerable Manwang says.

‘Some people want a family, but after I stayed in a monastery for the first time, I found Buddhism to be the ultimate truth and the kind of life I wanted.

‘I’ve seen little kids growing up who are now bringing their kids to the temple. It’s like this temple has its own family tree based on faith.’

As for what’s next on the horizon, Venerable Manwang hopes the main shrine will be completed in 3 years so they can continue sharing and practicing Buddhism in Logan.

Don’t miss out on Chinese New Year at Chung Tian Buddhist Temple from 21 January to 5 February.

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