Tu Viện Quảng Đức105 Lynch Rd, Fawkner, Vic 3060. Australia. Tel: 9357 3544. quangduc@quangduc.com* Viện Chủ: TT Tâm Phương, Trụ Trì: TT Nguyên Tạng   

Buddha seems to bring tranquility to Oakland neighborhood

08/10/201408:15(Xem: 9728)
Buddha seems to bring tranquility to Oakland neighborhood


Oakland


Oakland_2
   

Dan Stevenson is neither a Buddhist nor a follower of any organized religion.

The 11th Avenue resident in Oakland's Eastlake neighborhood was simply feeling hopeful in 2009 when he went to an Ace hardware store, purchased a 2-foot-high stone Buddha and installed it on a median strip in a residential area at 11th Avenue and 19th Street.

He hoped that just maybe his small gesture would bring tranquillity to a neighborhood marred by crime: dumping, graffiti, drug dealing, prostitution, robberies, aggravated assault and burglaries.

What happened next was nothing short of stunning. Area residents began to leave offerings at the base of the Buddha: flowers, food, candles. A group of Vietnamese women in prayer robes began to gather at the statue to pray.

And the neighborhood changed. People stopped dumping garbage. They stopped vandalizing walls with graffiti. And the drug dealers stopped using that area to deal. The prostitutes went away.

I asked police to check their crime statistics for the block radius around the statue, and here's what they found: Since 2012, when worshipers began showing up for daily prayers, overall year-to-date crime has dropped by 82 percent. Robbery reports went from 14 to three, aggravated assaults from five to zero, burglaries from eight to four, narcotics from three to none, and prostitution from three to none.

"I can't say what to attribute it to, but these are the numbers," a police statistician told me.

Back in 2009, when word got around that Stevenson was the person who'd installed the statue, offerings began to appear on his doorstep. It was like a scene straight out of the Clint Eastwood film "Gran Torino."

"They left a ton of fruit and Vietnamese specialty foods and candy, but there's only me and my wife, Lu, here and we can't eat all that stuff - but it's so good," said Stevenson.

"I've tried to explain to them my reasons" for placing the statue, he said. "I have nothing against it, but I don't believe what you believe!"

I don't think it matters to them.

To this day, every morning at 7, worshipers ring a chime, clang a bell and play soft music as they chant morning prayers. The original statue is now part of an elaborate shrine that includes a wooden structure standing 10 feet tall and holding religious statues, portraits, food and fruit offerings surrounded by incense-scented air.

"This used to be a huge spot for dumping stuff," said Alicia Tatum, 27, on an early morning walk with her dogs Lulu and Mya. "But over time, it's blossomed with more and more and more flowers - and they are out there every morning like clockwork."

On weekends, the worshipers include more than a dozen people: black folks, white folks, all folks, said Andy Blackwood, a neighborhood resident. Two weeks ago, a group of German tourists visited the shrine.

"The dope-dealing has stopped, the ladies of the evening have stopped," Blackwood said.

The Buddha has withstood two attempts to remove him from his watch, one criminal and one governmental. Neither has worked.

Soon after its installation, a would-be thief tried to pry the statue from its perch, but Stevenson had secured him with reinforced iron bar and "$35 worth" of a powerful epoxy - and Buddha didn't budge.

In 2012, after a resident's complaint, the city's Public Works Department tried to remove the statue but received such passionate blowback from neighbors that city officials decided to table and "study" the issue. Two years later, the administrative effort is long forgotten, and Buddha is still there.

When I went to visit the shrine, four small-framed ladies who don't speak or understand English decided I looked like a convert.

The moment I started talking, one of them politely took my pen from one hand, my notepad from the other and directed me to clasp my hands together, bow and repeat after her - so I did. When in Rome, right?

Apparently, my Buddhist chants aren't half bad either because they won some approving "oohs and aahs" from the flock - and carried me to Step 2 in the conversion process. The same woman who had grabbed my gear sat me cross-legged on a prayer rug in the street and placed a stool with a book on it before me. If nothing else, Buddha and I share the same body type - short, squat and happy. I sat there for a moment thinking that I might resemble him - and maybe that's why they seemed to like me.

I thought it might be a good opportunity to get a question in, too - and this time my spiritual guide seemed to understand.

"Next week," she replied.

Thank you very much, but I think I've already found what I was looking for.


Chip Johnson is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. His column runs on Tuesday and Friday. E-mail: chjohnson@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @chjohnson.

- See more at: http://www.saungon.net/tbl/item_2429.html#sthash.aMzSpCrt.dpuf

Gửi ý kiến của bạn
Tắt
Telex
VNI
Tên của bạn
Email của bạn
04/06/201606:13(Xem: 2538)
Here are a series of questions that I was recently asked as part of a Casey Multifaith Network presentation for the local Star Newspaper, with the intention to create peace, understanding and harmony within the community. I thought the answers may be of some benefit for practising Buddhists and Non-Buddhists alike. Happy Vesak. May all beings be well and happy. 1) What is your name and where do you live? Andrew Williams. I live at Phillip Island & Endeavour Hills. 2) What religion do you believe in and/or follow and what is your involvement? Buddhism. I have studied & practised Buddhism since I was quite young. I have been teaching Buddhism since 1998, initially in the USA & now back home in Australia.
04/06/201605:39(Xem: 2626)
Buddhism has taken firm roots in Australia during the last few decades, due in part to people migrating to Australia from various Buddhist cultures and their 2nd generation, who either moved here as children or were born here. It is also due in part to the genuine interest in these precious teachings and way of life shown by Australian's of all backgrounds. Some of whom have deep virtuous roots from practising the Dhamma in previous lives and others who are totally new to the Dhamma, having a strong attraction to the peace, harmony and understanding that results from the Buddhist practises of morality, meditation and wisdom. Therefore it is essential that the Dhamma be taught in the English language, using terminology and expression that can be clearly understood.
20/01/201612:36(Xem: 3739)
Shakyamuni Buddha appeared on the stage of this world with four great noble tasks to perform, namely to open up the treasury of truth, to indicate its meaning, to cause men to apprehend it, and to lead them to it,(1) which can be achieved by the penetrative power of Buddha’s wisdom or vision, i.e., Buddha a, Buddha nature.
01/10/201517:30(Xem: 4138)
Mindfulness Practice for Youths
24/05/201519:43(Xem: 5656)
Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American Buddhist monk from New York City. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1944, he obtained a BA in philosophy from Brooklyn College (1966) and a PhD in philosophy from Claremont Graduate School (1972).
24/05/201519:37(Xem: 5707)
Bhikkhu Bodhi - The Essence of Buddhism - YouTube
22/05/201520:28(Xem: 22258)
Audio: Thập Bát La Hán, bài giảng của Thầy Nguyên Tạng tại Chùa Linh Sơn, Detroid, Michigan, USA
01/04/201504:03(Xem: 5306)
Vesak festival at Melbourne city, 23-4-2015
24/03/201511:08(Xem: 7124)
The ASA annual conference brings together Buddhist monastics of all traditions living in, or visiting Australia, for fellowship, dialogue and to address the issues facing Buddhism in Australia. The ASA has in previous years, and is still working with the Department of Immigration & Border Security to assist those monastic’s seeking Permanent Residency Visas through representations to the Federal Government. Where appropriate, the ASA has and continues to consult with state Buddhist Councils and Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC) for a solution to these ongoing issues. The ASA has arranged monastic education forums such as the 2010 Vinaya Conference, and represents the Australian Sangha community at various International Conferences, as well as consultations with various State & Federal Government agencies.
08/02/201512:48(Xem: 3498)
Wake Up – Young Adults for a Healthy and Compassionate Society, is a world-wide network of young people practicing the living art of mindfulness. We share a determination to live in an awakened way, taking a 21st Century version of the 5 Mindfulness Trainings as our path and guiding light. The Wake Up network has grown out of Plum Village meditation center in SW France, under the guidance of Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Plum Village has been offering retreats to young people for over two decades, and the Wake Up movement was formally launched in Summer 2008.