Chinese Buddhist temples of the Philippines (16)

Editors Note: This is the 16th of a series about the 36 Chinese Buddhist temples of the Philippines. Much of the information is from a thesis of Venerable Chuanmiao (Hsuan Chuang University, 2008), a Buddhist monk affiliated with the Thousand Buddha Temple in Quezon City.

16. Ocean Sky Chan Monastery (海天禪寺)
716 J. Abad Santos St., San Juan City
Tel.: 723-6132 • 726-0600

This is a branch temple of the Zhongtaishan (a.k.a. Chung Tai) Chan Monastery (中太禪寺) in Puli (埔里), Central Taiwan, founded by Master Weijue (惟覺) in 1987.

The grand monastery of Zhongtaishan was inaugurated in 2001, and a Philippine delegation was present. The delegation was so moved by the place and the ceremonies that they invited Zhongtaishan to open a branch in the Philippines.

A five-storey building was built in San Juan City. In 2002, two monks arrived and supervised the design and construction of the building’s interiors. Chan classes and chanting services began in 2003.

Main buildings. The ground floor houses a modest shrine to the three Buddhas, reception, and dining hall. The second floor has a classroom and audio-visual room, library, offices, and Chan lineage wall. The meditation hall is on the third floor, and the upper floors are the monastics’ living quarters.

Leadership and primary activities. At present, there are three nuns serving at the temple, headed by Ven. Jianyong (見庸). With a small group of volunteers, they organize numerous activities, the most regular of which are basic, intermediate, and advanced classes in Buddhism and Chan meditation, offered in both English and Chinese.

There is a weekly chanting service/repentance ceremony held on Saturday evenings, and morning services on the first and 15th of the lunar month. Other feast days are also marked, and throughout the year, one-day Chan recollections are organized on Sundays.

More advanced devotees are invited to attend an annual seven-day retreat at the Zhongtaishan monastery in Taiwan. Every summer, two free summer camps for children are organized for different age groups. Each lasts two weeks and includes classes in martial arts, art, and meditation. — First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 25, no. 21 (April 9-22, 2013): 13.