Yelm Buddhists break ground on new temple

By Dean Siemon, Nisqually Valley News, June 24, 2011

Yelm, Washington (USA) -- Wat Prachum Neward Raingsey Buddhist temple has grown since opening in July 2002 and is expanding once again. The temple, recognizable for lotus blooms at its entrance, sits on Yelm Highway on the westerly outskirts of Yelm.

<< Wat Prachum Neward Raingsey’s monks, Soavanna Chhin, left, Kosal Suon and Tola Chhim, sit in front of a shrine to Buddha, which includes a bone shard from Buddha’s ashes. Photo by Dean Siemon

The Theravada Buddhist temple, a nonprofit organization, broke ground last weekend on a new cetiya, which is a temple.

Kosal Suon, 49, said the building used to honor Buddha is too small for the people that join them in their public services.

Services are 10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Suon said the cetiya is estimated at more than $120,000. He said they hope to build a much larger temple in the far back of the property.

“When I came to the temple, I had to build something new,” Suon said.

Buddhism is a religion practiced as the fourth largest faith, but originates from northeastern India and spread into Southeast Asia. Buddhism was formed after the Buddha, formerly Siddhartha Guatama, left life in a royal family in present-day Nepal and discovered the path to enlightenment.

Thousands of years after his death, his ashes are shared amongst selected temples, one of them being the one in Yelm. A woman brought a bone shard, the size of a grain of rice, after visiting a former professor, who is a monk in Sri Lanka

“She was asked to give (the shard) to a temple in Washington,” explained Sovanna Chhin, a student monk in Yelm for the last year and a half.

Once construction is complete on the new cetiya, the Buddha relic will be moved there. But plans are to move the shard to the larger temple once it is constructed, which Suon said won’t be anytime soon.

“I just have a plan for the future,” he said.

A Buddhist monk for 22 years, Suon spent the past five as the head monk at Wat Prachum Neward Raingsey. Buddhists wanting to become monks can join at any age and become a samanera, a novice monk, before becoming a bikkhu, a full monk.

To become a bikkhu takes 10 years of study.

“I wanted to improve my life and live in the rule of Buddha,” he said.

Chhin said that he joined the temple by choice as a way of repaying his parents for raising him.

“In return, I repay them by becoming a Buddhist monk to show them I still have respect for my culture and background,” Chhin said, who has not returned to his home country of Cambodia since age 5.

Now 35, Chhin is not only pursuing his Buddhist studies but is studying business law at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia.

“That’s for my own personal growth,” he said.

Chhin said that he joined the temple in 2010 as a student expecting to serve only the maximum three-month term.

“But if you have the mentality and the heart to stay, then you can stay,” Chhin said. “I like it. I get to meet other monks and I get to travel and do ceremonies for the public.”

Tola Chhim, 43, is in his first month of serving as a student monk, called a samanera, or novice, at the Yelm temple, but wanted to join a temple for at least six years.

“It just wasn’t the right time,” Chhim said.

About two years ago, Chhim said he was driving in the Yelm area to scout a new location for his family’s donut shop in Spanaway.

He discovered the Wat Pracham Neward Raingsey Buddhist temple and eventually attended the group’s Cambodian New Year, which is from April 13-15.

After attending this year’s festival, Chhim said he decided now was the best time.

“Something called me here,” he said.

Suon said that they are welcoming to new comers with open arms, hoping to continue teaching the rule of Buddha.

“In the future, I (will) try to teach about meditation and teach Cambodian culture and language for the younger followers,” 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: