Sunday, 15 May was an auspicious day for the members of Huong Dao, a Buddhist temple in Fort Worth, Texas. They laid the first stone of a 5.7-hectare expansion that is expected to cost US$100 million to complete. The new construction will include 840 stupas that will house various Buddhist teachings.
The first-stone ceremony was attended by high-ranking local officials, including Arlington mayor Jim Ross, District 5 council member Gyna Bivens, and Haltom City mayor An Truong.
Mayor An Truong has been a member of the temple for more than 20 years. A veteran of the Vietnam war, he served as a police officer in the narcotics department for more than three decades before working in the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office. During that time he was an investigator for the Gang and Homicide Prosecution Unit. As a member of the Buddhist temple in the early days, Mayor An Truog helped to build one of the first small temples used by the monks at Huong Dao.
The expansion project has been named “The Ancient Sacred Buddhist Scripture Stupas” project in honor of the many stupas that will be built.
All of the stupas will be constructed using granite and steel, and they will store teachings from the Tipitaka, the “Triple Basket” of the Pali Canon, which consist of a collection of the Buddha’s discourses, the monastic code of conduct (Vinaya), and the Abhidhamma, a collection of canonical texts.
The teachings will be translated into the languages of six countries, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam, and carved into slabs made of stone and bronze.
Some of the stupas will stand as high as 40 meters, making them visible far from the temple. According to the temple website:
The construction project of the 840 large and small Stupas is symbolic of the 84,000 Dhamma (Dhammakkhandhas or Khandhas), which are the teachings of the Great Enlightened One. They are the profound, pure, and practical truth, the message of Compassion, Wisdom, and Liberation that had, are, and will send [sic] to all sentient beings for more than 25 centuries. They will continue to be passed down to our posterity the invaluable, ever-lasting treasures of Dhamma for generations to come.(Chua Huong Dao)
A monk at the temple, Tue Nhan Bhikkhu, who is known to congregants as Rev. Nguyen, described the project: “Over history, typically only Asian kings were able to raise the funds to construct a Great Sacred Buddhist Site. Everyone who is Buddhist all over the world is invited to participate. The site will be an anchor for our rich culture and ancient architecture representing Asian Buddhist countries.” (Fort Worth Report)
Huong Dao has been a cornerstone of the community in Fort Worth for 25 years. It provides worship services to a congregation of some 1,000 people and contains a 1,115-square-meter worship hall.
The temple serves a variety of community functions. It is the host site for health fairs throughout the year, and offers congregants a variety of traditional Buddhist services, including weddings, funerals, and meditation retreats. It is also a major food distribution point for hungry families in the Fort Worth area.
Unfortunately, the temple and its members have not always been welcome in the area. Fort Worth council member Gina Bivens had this to say about the temple’s beginnings: “In the early days, when the temple first arrived, people were harassed or assaulted. We look to our teachings and meditation to help quell the violence in this area.” (Fort Worth Report)
Huong Dao Buddhist temple is located at 4,717 E. East Rosedale Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76105, to the north of the Stop Six Choice Neighborhood.
Chùa Hương Đạo
Photo gallery: Buddhist worshippers celebrate Vesak 2022 with $100 million temple expansion (Fort Worth Report)
Temple Lays ‘First Stone’ for Sacred Buddhist Scripture Stupas in Stop Six on May 15 (Fort Worth Report)
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