Updated: Oct 9, 2019
February 3, 2019. Chinese Buddhist Association of Manitoba, 585 Cumberland Ave., Winnipeg, MB.
As we approach the temple we are greeted by a lion statue.. This lion stands as a protector at the door of the temple. He will guard the sacred ceremonial space where Deities, ancestors, living relatives and Spirit Guides come together to secure the safe journey of departed souls into heaven. When the departed souls move up into the heaven realms, they will have the power to bless their living relatives on earth.
I love Buddhist temples because they are a visual representation of the union between all realms. The drawings of Gods, animals and protective beings like gargoyles show that when all beings come together for the peace of the whole, magic can happen illustrates how unity of all beings helps create harmony for the entire creation.
Often times, we misunderstand the deities at a shrine like this. There are often wrathful looking dragons or lions or strange creatures at the entrance. These scary looking statues are there to ward off ill will and negative intentions. Sometimes you need a big, scary looking bouncer at a bar to keep things in order and so, sometimes, you need scary looking beings at a temple door to keep things safe. Churches also have gargoyles to protect them.
The very first deity I see when I walk in is Yama or Yanluo Wang - he is often likened to the Grim Reaper or the God of Death. I would call him the God who guides departed souls. I met him when I died during a miscarriage with twins. I was living in India and the power went out during my surgery. They continued my operation without anesthetic and I began to hemorrhage. This led to me leaving my body with my babies in my hand. My babies took the form of two jasmine flowers. I felt myself journeying out of my body and saw myself being thrown down a huge waterfall. At the bottom of the waterfall. There was a narrow, dirty river. Much like the river Styx from Egyptian tradition. I came to the end of the river and Yama summoned the two jasmine flowers out of my palm and then indicated to me that I needed to go down some steps in this enormous temple. I could tell that this temple was the gateway to many possible realms that my soul could travel too. He pointed to a stairway that would lead me back into my body. He showed me that my ex husband was sitting on a pile of gravel, crying and begging God to let me be ok. As soon as I saw him sitting there I knew I had to go back. I immediately gasped and came back into my body. My mother in law was shocked and happy to see me sit up and was a bit terrified when I started to call out for Yama, the God of death. She told me that I had not breathed for at least twenty minutes and she had been praying intensely that return.
Death is not a bad, scary or permanent experience. It is simply the end of our physical body. According to many faith traditions, the soul is eternal and carries on even after death. When we understand this, the God of Death is less of an enemy and more of an ally or tour guide who helps us get to our proper destination.
As we enter the temple, Yama is standing there. He is wearing a red robe with wide sleeves and a goldish under hue. His clothes look iridescent and mesmerizing. He is slim and at least seven feet tall. He has a long beard, moustache and hair and is wearing a turban of sorts on his head. He greets me and tells me he is there to guide the departed souls a per the wishes of the congregation today.
The congregation is chanting, ringing bells and playing drums. Taras claps to the beat. Later, members of the community say that the prayers are solemn and say that it is not appropriate to clap!
The temple is literally full of beings from many realms. All along the ceiling, there are snakes circling the prayer room. I feel they are there to give the energy required to connect the spirits to higher realms. They are like an electric current, keeping things vital and fluid.
Beneath the dragons, maybe a foot away from the ceiling there are Cherubs. These young angels all band together to create a field of peaceful assistance for the lost souls to tap into to help them ascend. The cherubs have bodies of white light with golden auras. They’re about three feet in height. They are youthful and vibrant and playful. Their presence helps to lighten the mood of the departed souls so they feel free from the guilt of leaving their loved ones.
Below the high frequency of the Cherubs is the energy of Mother Quan Yin. She too is wearing flowing white clothing. She is pouring holy water out of her hand and this water is filling the middle layer of the temple with sacred, healing energy. She shows me that this holy water brings abundance and healing to the living and peace and the ability to flow into heaven to the departed souls. Her energy is of pure compassion. I can feel that she is there to help all beings, without judgement. She is so beautiful and gentle. She takes up the space of the entire temple, but her body is in the etheric realms, this makes it look as though the temple is in her.
Once the prayers were over in the main temple space we all went to an adjacent altar room. In that room there was a beautiful Buddha. He had an aura of immense, golden healing light. I could feel the intense purity of his heart and I could feel that he helped to clear the misdeeds of the souls so that they could attain higher levels of heaven. There were beautiful offerings of fruit and flowers before him and the host family was asked to come front and centre to pray for their loved one. I saw a man all dressed in white in the stairwell as they prayed and the Buddha pulled him into him. He merged into the Budha’s heart.
After the prayers were over, Taras approached a woman in the community and told her that I see Spirit. She took us on a tour of the temple to tell us the different deities. At the entrance of the temple there was a statue of Yama. In the four corners, there were pillars with huge dragons on them! She said they were to fill the temple with energy, just as I had understood. She then showed me a statue of Quan Yin to the right of the altar, right where I had seen her. She understood what I told her about the holy water and was very happy. Next she told us that the Buddha in the other room was for helping souls go to heaven.
I then noticed that there was the energy of cremation ashes in anook in the prayer room. I told her this and she said that at one time people inturned there relatives in the temple but that the practice had been discontinued. I told her that I felt there were still ashes there and she agreed it was highly possible.
We were taken downstairs for a beautiful vegetarian meal. We were introduced to one of the drum players and he was so happy to hear that they deities visited the temple. He said it would give him renewed enthusiasm to play for them.
This was such a deep, rich and healing experience. I take a moment to really feel the blessing of this day with the deities and feel graced to have met these people and shared a day of worship with them.