Once housed in a small white house that had been a church, the Buddha Mind Monastery, 5800 S Anderson Road, drew only a glance or two from passersby.
These days, with a new $4 million monastery built adjacent to the old one, the Taiwanese nuns who run Buddha Mind said their building attracts much more curiousity from motorists — and more and more people seeking to learn about Buddhism.
Abbess Jian Mao Shifu, 42, who leads the Zen Buddhist community, said she and other monastery leaders and supporters originally planned to expand the former church that once housed Buddha Mind, but the building’s cracked foundation ultimately caused them to scrap those plans.
Monastery supporters in the Oklahoma City metro and the Chung Tai Chan Monastery in Taiwan, of which Buddha Mind is an affiliate, decided to raise funds to build a new Buddhist temple and separate quarters for the monastery’s nuns. The abbess said the temple building and nun’s quarters were completed in November.
She said since then, the nuns have seen numerous motorists drive into the parking lot of the new monastery and slow to a crawl as they peer at the unique structure on the eastern Oklahoma City prairie.
The abbess said more important than the curious folks are the growing numbers of people flocking to the monastery for classes and other activities. She said more than 200 people showed up for the first Saturday meditation held in the temple building.
Growth sparked project
Many metro-area residents have been drawn to Buddhism and the Buddha Mind Monastery, the abbess said.
“Our other building was very limited,” she said.
The abbess said the new temple is 18,000 square feet and includes a lobby and reception area, courtyard, meditation hall, library and several small classrooms. She said the furnishings and decor were shipped from Taiwan, and volunteers from Taiwan traveled to Oklahoma to help the nuns and their metro supporters move the items inside and set things up.
The abbess said she and the four nuns who call the monastery home are very proud of the decor, which includes a large bell, lotus symbol on the lobby ceiling and numerous Buddha statues of different sizes. The Four Tenets of Chung Tai are featured along one wall: to our elders be respectful; to our juniors be kind; with all humanity be harmonious; in all endeavors be true.
She said the monastery, which draws so much curiosity, has a gray exterior with a curved shape in the front to symbolize open arms.
That design is perfect, because the nuns reach out to the community in many ways, the abbess said.
Those outreach offerings include meditation classes, Zen Buddhism classes, vegetarian cooking classes for children and adults, dharma lectures, sutra study, ceremonies and other activities.
“You can have different cultural experiences,” she said. “People want to learn about Buddhism.”
Buddha Mind Monastery
•What: Zen Buddhism classes, meditation classes, yoga class, vegetarian cooking classes, dharma lectures, Zen retreats.
•Where: 5800 S Anderson Road.
•Information: 610-2707 or ctbuddhamind.org.