History of the Texas Buddhist Association
Throughout the 2,500 years of Buddhist history, Buddhism has demonstrated great adaptability. Buddhism has spread to various environments in a rational and peaceful manner, promoting the wisdom of human beings and improving the happiness of society. The seeds of Buddhism in America have begun to sprout in the past century, and Buddhism has great potential to prosper here in the future.
The Texas Buddhist Association was established in Houston in 1979. Our goal is to introduce and spread Buddhism in America. To accomplish this goal, we have made some changes within the TBA’s organizational structure and with our methods of spreading the Dharma. For example, we have set up a variety of educational and charitable funds to increase our contribution to society. We have founded the Bodhi Academy and a youth organization to help educate the younger generation. We have held English activities periodically, allowing the English speaking members to understand Buddhism better. We have long joined charitable activities held by other religions and associations to improve friendship and understanding of each other. In short, TBA has proceeded with charitable and Dharma spreading activities for the past twenty years.
After years of discussion and brainstorming, we realized that to make Buddhism prosper here, we need to reorganize Buddhism’s direction of development and complete the following:
- Develop a group of English speaking followers with a thorough understanding of American culture to help spread the Dharma,
- Educate and guide our younger generation in learning Buddhism,
- Involve our members in the administrative activities of TBA,
- Maintain good interaction with our community atlarge, and
- Allow our members to take care of each other throughout daily life.
The Concept of the Bodhi Center
After several years of searching, in March 2001, TBA decided to purchase a forest land located in the northwest suburb of Houston. The plot of about 512 acres is dotted with rolling hills and brooks and is full of geographical variety. We plan to use this land for future development of Buddhism in the U.S. The facility will not be developed in the form of a temple. Instead, it will serve as a cultural, educational, and altruistic activity center of Buddhism. The facility will be named “The Bodhi Center”.
The Bodhi Center will consist of a number of buildings with various functions. The Zen lobby and the Chanting lobby will be places for meditation. The Buddhist College will be a place of learning. The forest of quiet living will accommodate either individual members or groups of members. The Haihuei building will either be for administrative business or holding group activities. The outdoor activity area will be used for recreational gatherings, camping trips, and picnics. The audiovisual center will provide members with information through a wide range of documents and literature. The Memorial Park will replace Buddha Light Temple to become a park for towers (stupas) in memory of loved ones who have passed away. When the time is ripe, the Bodhi Center also intends to build a Grand Hall in honor of the Buddha. It will serve to remind us that the world we are in now could also be Pureland. We plan to preserve as much of the forest land as possible to allow our facility to be surrounded by the beauty of nature.
The Vision Towards Awakening
The blue print of the Bodhi Center shows what we have envisioned for the facility. However, this is a longterm project. TBA will construct these buildings during different time periods, as need arises. Therefore, the Bodhi Center may take twenty years or longer to be completed.
After the first period of construction, we will be able to hold activities such as meditation and Dharma talks. This will permit members to understand Buddhism better and allow families to enjoy learning Buddhism together. We also expect the Bodhi Center to be both a place for people to enjoy and a place for Buddhists to practice, learn, and live together. The Zen Park at the Center and the beautiful natural surroundings will allow people to feel refreshed and relaxed. The activities held by the Center will help people improve their health and strengthen their spirits.
At the Bodhi Center, whatever one’s race, religion, age, or sex may be, as long as one wishes, all can learn and grow together. The Bodhi Center is not just a facility where the venerable preaches but also a Pureland where the thoughts and spirit of Buddhism are put into practice. We greatly appreciate your support and we welcome your comments.