July 27, 2006 — Construction of the island's first and only Buddhist temple is not quite finished, but the doors will open in late July to those seeking peace and tranquility in their everyday lives.
A one-day retreat packed with yoga, meditation and vegetarian meals at Nirvana Temple in Estate Mandahl is scheduled for July 30.
Dr. May Trieu is hosting the Body-Mind-Spirit One-Day Retreat.
Trieu, who has lived on St. Thomas for 10 years and is a physician specializing in holistic medicine and acupuncture, is building the Nirvana Temple on her land in Estate Mandahl. Trieu is president of the board of the nonprofit organization building and operating the temple.
The building overlooks a mangrove lagoon. "It's a very beautiful site," said Nirvana Temple board member Grace Tuma. Trieu and Truma, met through acupuncture — an eastern medicinal practice that uses strategically placed needles to induce relaxation or pain relief — and eventually established a friendship.
Buddhism is "mostly a philosophy, not a religion," Trieu said. It focuses on teachings by Gautama Siddhartha (also known as Buddha Sakyamuni), who lived in India probably during the 6th or 5th centuries B.C.
Trieu, who spent part of her childhood in Vietnam but left with her family as a political refugee, said her motivation for building Nirvana Temple was to "bring peace and healing to the community and the world."
"The most important goal," Trieu said, "is to expand spiritual living in the Caribbean."
The Nirvana Temple will focus on what is called "engaged" Buddhism, which brings the Buddhist philosophy into people's everyday lives.
Trieu said there is already an active Buddhist community on St. Thomas, but she said she hopes to introduce more people to the Buddhist way of life.
"There is no discrimination. Everybody's welcome," Trieu said.
The July 30 retreat will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions. The morning session, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., will include ashtanga yoga, shamatha sitting and walking medication, Buddhist chanting, Qi Gong (a self-healing art of movement and meditation) and a vegetarian lunch.
The afternoon session, from 2 to 6 p.m., will include ishta yoga, an audio lecture from the Dalai Lama, Buddhist chanting, Qi Gong, an optional third-eye acupuncture treatment and a vegetarian dinner.
Proceeds will go towards temple construction, which is expected to be complete by year's end. As with many building projects on the islands, unexpected delays have slowed temple construction. A structure currently stands, and the roof is in progress.
The cost of the full-day retreat is $150 per person. The morning or afternoon sessions are $100 per person. The fund-raiser is tax-deductible, and there is a 10 percent discount for early registration. Advance payments are not refundable.
For more information on the retreat or to reserve a space, call Tuma at 513-0860 or Trieu at 998-2700. Trieu said there is no limit to the number of people who can attend, and she suggested bringing a mat or cushion.
To make a donation to the temple, contact Trieu at 998-2700.
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