Monks bless possible Pataskala temple site

by Chad Klimack, Newark Advocate, Aug. 27, 2011

PATASKALA, New Jersey (USA) -- Buddhist monks from as far away as Thailand and Arizona visited Pataskala on Thursday to participate in a ceremony they believe will bring good luck to a site proposed for a Thai Buddhist temple.

<< Buddhist monks stand next to a soybean field that could become a Buddhist temple in the coming years.

The event, attended by close to two dozen supporters, took place on the edge of a knee-high soybean field on the south side of Blacks Road, in the area of Corylus Drive.

Nine monks, dressed in orange or brown flowing robes, laid the first brick in the ground during the colorful, multipart ceremony.

Future bricks could be laid at the site as soon as March, said John Tai, a representative of the Columbus Buddhism Center, the nonprofit group attempting to bring the temple to Pataskala.

Tai said Thursday he is working to raise $1 million to $1.2 million in Thailand to build a residence hall/rectory for monks.

Once the residence hall is complete, Tai said he would like to start raising funds to work on the rest of the temple.

"I need to have a building here to get the fundraising going (in the United States)," said Tai, a Columbus restaurateur.

Phrakru Widesbrommakun, abbot of Wat Promkunaram Temple in Arizona, attended Thursday's ceremony.

Widesbrommakun, who is one of a handful of monks trying to get the temple built, said the project is going to take time because of fundraising needs.

"We want to build step by step," he said.

Widesbrommakun was joined Thursday by Phra Brommolee, the abbot of Wat Phichayayatikaram in Bangkok, Thailand. Brommolee also serves as the president of his country's National Committee for Buddhism Promotion, and Brommolee presented Tai with a donation of $150,000.

Aside from raising $1 million to $1.2 million for the residence hall/rectory, Tai said supporters need to raise another $10 million to $12 million to build the temple. He said he hopes to convince corporate sponsors to assist in the effort.
The proposal

Tai this week provided The Advocate with a conceptual site plan for the temple.

The plan breaks the site into three major areas, defined as:

» The Sankawasa -- Located on the south side of the site. Consists of a rectory and administrative building, in addition to dwelling units for monks and pilgrims and a residential cluster surrounded by serene landscape settings. Tai said he envisions at least five monks being stationed at the temple.

» The Buddhawasa -- Located in the middle of the site. Consists of a chapel aligning with the main gate and a Jedi that houses a library and museum. Sala buildings, used for meditation teaching and practicing, would be in the rear.

» The Krawasa -- Located on the north corner of the site, adjoining the parking lot, this would consist of a plaza and courtyards and a community meeting hall.

Developer H. Burkeley Showe and his family donated more than 7 acres for the Tai and the nonprofit Columbus Buddhism Center to build the structure.

Showe attended Thursday's ceremony, and he also attended another ceremony on Blacks Road in June 2010. That ceremony consisted of monks blessing the site.

After the 2010 ceremony, there was no news surrounding the project for some time, but Tai said he was busy attempting to raise construction funds in Thailand.
What's next?

In late 2010, Tai asked the city for a lot split of 7.851 acres off the 83-acre tract of land Showe owns, and the city approved the split because it met all zoning requirements, Planning Director Dianne Harris said.

Tai still needs to complete some work before construction can start.

In addition to continuing to raise funds, Tai said he plans to fly to Thailand in September to secure an official construction blueprint for the site.

Tai must submit a formal development plan to the city before breaking ground, and both the city and county planning department need to sign off on the plan, said Harris, adding she has received no such paperwork.

The site currently is farmed, but it is zoned for residential uses.

A rezoning -- at least for the temple -- is not needed because religious institutions receive federal protections. Living quarters, such as a rectory, also would fit under the city's residential uses zoning designation.

Tai has discussed building a floating Oriental market, restaurant, spa and hotel on the ground in the future, and he said this week he would like people to be able to come to the site to learn Thai dance and martial arts, among other Thai- and Buddhist-based offerings.

"We want to do this and then bigger things, like an international farmers market with vendors from other countries," he said.

Pataskala Mayor Steve Butcher attended Thursday's ceremony, and he said the property will need to be rezoned to permit those non-religious uses because they do not carry the same federal protections.

Since Tai announced plans for the temple in 2009, Butcher has invested time in learning about Buddhism and Thai culture.

On Thursday, he spoke at the ceremony.

"We certainly have a lot of work to do in the next couple years, but you have a beautiful location for your temple," Butcher said.

Speaking before the ceremony, Butcher said the business part of the site, with the floating market and spa and hotel, would be a boon to the city -- if it ever comes to fruition.

"It's no secret we want to grow our commercial and business base to get out of taxing (residential) homes," he said.

Tai, for his part, said he envisions the development attracting people from all over the world to Pataskala.

"We want to (increase) tourism," he said.
We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: