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Thứ Năm, tháng 9 14, 2006

No. 1132 (Minh Châu dịch)

Buddhists Planning To Branch Out In Plant City

By RAY REYES The Tampa Tribune

Published: Sep 14, 2006


PLANT CITY - An 11-acre parcel of farmland north of downtown is now home to members of the world’s fifth largest religion.

Buddhists from the Dhammakaya Foundation, an international organization devoted to teaching meditation techniques, have opened a center in the 3,408-square-foot house at 1303 N. Gordon St.

About 40 people from the Tampa Bay area have attended meditation classes since doors opened in July, said Nina Lovicha, spokeswoman for the Florida Meditation Center, the local branch of the Dhammakaya Foundation.

Before the end of the year, a larger temple will be built on the property, Lovicha said. The Florida Meditation Center and the temple will be the state’s headquarters for the Dhammakaya Foundation, said Lovicha, who comes from the foundation’s national headquarters in Azusa, Calif. Members of the Florida Meditation Center purchased the house and the 11 acres for $430,000, according to county property appraiser records.

Classes at the new center in Plant City will include the history and philosophies of Buddhism, mediation for beginners and instruction on the Buddhists chants for morning and evening. One Buddhist monk currently resides in the center, Lovicha said. Followers from all over are expected to travel to the center.

“We’ll teach what the typical Buddhist does,” Lovicha said. Which, she added, is to “be generous” to others.

More than 500 million people around the world practice Buddhism, according to the online dictionary Wikipedia.com. Its founder is Gautama Buddha, who centuries ago taught his followers to pursue Nirvana, or enlightenment, through meditation and asceticism.

The Buddhists are the second major religion to announce plans for a Plant City branch this year. The Church of Scientology purchased the former Frenchman’s Market downtown and is renovating the 13,000 square-foot building into an outreach center. Renovation and design snags have delayed the opening of the Scientologists’ center, which had an opening date scheduled for August.

The Dhammakaya Foundation has 40 worldwide branches, including nine in the U.S. For more information, call the Florida Meditation Center at (813) 719-8000 or visit the Web site at http://www.dhammakaya.or.th.

http://news.tbo.com/news/metro/MGBM1PAG3SE.html