Vietnamese Buddhism

50 years ago this week…

June 11: 50 years ago today, a Buddhist monk named Thich Quang Duc calmly sat down in the middle of a street in South Vietnam in front of the Cambodian Embassy, while a fellow monk poured gasoline over his head. A moment later, he set himself on fire.

He was protesting the systemic religious discrimination against Buddhists by the Roman Catholic regime of dictator Ngo Dinh Diem. Although Catholics were very much a minority in the country, they enjoyed majority status and privileges. Buddhists were not allowed to practice their religion in public, serve in the army, and were routinely discriminated against.

[Via Death and Taxes]
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San Diego Planning Commission to hear proposal for Buddhist monastery expansion

Gary Warth, North Country Times: The San Diego County Planning Commission is scheduled on Friday to hear a proposal to add a meditation center to a Buddhist monastery in Bonsall, and a community group plans on fighting the project with a petition signed by about 400 people.

The Vietnamese Buddhist Meditation Congregation has proposed the expansion of the Dai Dang Monastery off of Camino del Rey, and neighbors have said they fear that the quiet monastery where 10 monks live will become a noisy destination when hundreds of people begin visiting for ceremonies.

The Bonsall Community Sponsor Group, an advisory board to the San Diego …

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151 comment letters, petition received on Buddhist temple

The public comment period on the re-circulated draft environmental Mitigated Negative Declaration for the proposed Buddhist temple in Bonsall [California] closed Feb. 11, and the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) received 151 comment letters and one petition.

DPLU received 45 public comment letters critical of the project, 106 letters supportive of the project, and a supportive petition with 804 signatures. DPLU staff will review and respond to all comments, although the response to any comments not related to California Environmental Quality Act issues will be that the comments are outside the purview of the environmental statement.

DPLU staff does not currently have an estimate when the potential Major Use Permit would go to the county’s Planning Commission for a decision. Although the Planning Commission has the authority to issue or deny a Major Use Permit, the decision can be appealed by either side to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

The Major Use Permit would legalize the existing religious assembly and group residential uses on the 8.94-acre site with A70 (limited agriculture) agricultural zoning while also approving the future addition of 22,796 square feet of building area to bring the total amount of building area to approximately 33,475 square feet. The conditions of the Major Use Permit would restrict hours of operation, the number of large events, and the maximum number of visitors.

The property in the 6300 block of Camino Del Rey was purchased by the Vietnamese Buddhist Meditation Congregation in 2001. Previous uses on the property included…

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horse keeping and horticulture, and the native vegetation has been removed due to the past residential and agricultural activity. Eucalyptus is grown on-site for sale to plant and flower businesses.

An existing one-story house with 2,840 square feet of living space and a three-car garage is currently being used as a rectory, and the proposed Major Use Permit plans to convert that building into a library and study rooms. A converted horse stable measuring approximately 5,151 square feet is approximately 50 feet north of the house and would be converted to a storage facility.

A feed and equipment storage building totaling 2,164 square feet is approximately 30 feet from the converted stables but would be removed to provide parking on the site. A 573 square foot two-bedroom trailer which was once used as a caretaker’s residence is planned to remain in that use. A groundwater well at the southwest corner of the property is used for irrigation of the plants grown on the property, and the conditions of the Major Use Permit include the destruction of that well.

The site’s current uses include quiet meditation during the weekdays and religious assembly on the weekends during which between 100 and 300 people visit the facility. There are no formal parking facilities other than those which were provided for the existing single-family residence, and access to the site is provided by an existing driveway off of Camino Del Rey.

The 22,796 square feet of new building facilities would consist of a 6,196 square foot main worship hall, a 7,664 square foot meditation hall, and an 8,936 square foot monk residence hall. The two-story residence hall would include 12 double-occupancy bedrooms, a communal bathroom on each story, a laundry room, a locker room, three multi-purpose rooms totaling approximately 900 square feet, an isolation bedroom with a private bathroom, a library, a 325 square foot kitchen connected to a 1,055 square foot dining room, and a 450 square foot office and reception area.

The accommodations would provide for approximately 30 monks at any time. The residence hall would have a maximum height of 33 feet, 2 inches.

The meditation hall would be a partial two-story building with architectural features creating a height of up to 29 feet. A large main room would have an altar at the east end for congregational assembly and meditation, and approximately 1,725 square feet would be used for a multi-purpose room which would also serve as a weekend food warming kitchen and weekend dining hall. The second floor would include a conference room measuring approximately 2,430 square feet. Both stories would have restrooms.

The main worship hall building would be 35 feet in height, and a steeple over the altar area would extend the height to 40 feet. In addition to a large room for congregational assemblies, the main worship hall would include daily administrative use office space and restrooms on both stories, and the second story would have approximately 1,440 square feet of study and private meditation area.

The grading of 14,400 cubic yards of cut and 13,400 cubic yards of fill would create an export of 1,000 cubic yards, and the relocation of the driveway to meet County of San Diego sight distance requirements would involve movement of 3,400 cubic yards of cut and 4,900 cubic yards of fill.

A 24-foot-wide paved driveway from Camino del Rey would serve as the main access while emergency access would be provided from Wrightwood Way at the site’s northern boundary. The 81 parking spaces would include six handicapped spaces, and a permanent overflow parking area would have a capacity of an additional 41 parking spaces.

The monks do not drive cars, and no visitors would be allowed after 5 p.m. The center would operate between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and Buddhist holidays; normal weekend meditation activity would occur approximately 45 times a year and would attract up to 300 people. Four special religious events each year, based on Buddhist holidays, are expected to attract between 300 and 600 people, and three annual events associated with Buddhist holidays or a visit from the Headmaster would attract up to 1,000 people.

Amplified sound would be used in the interior of the buildings, but not in any exterior areas, during special events. In order to monitor and control the number of visitors and parking spaces, the Dai Dang Meditation Center would set up a Website and require that all who attend the special events pre-register on-line.

The Website would not only register the total number of people for each event but would also assign parking spaces to the visitors. All guests would be required to print out a parking pass or permit prior to arriving at the site, and no visitors would be allowed to enter the site by automobile without such a pass or permit.

If the number of guests is projected to exceed 300 people, privately-contracted passenger busses would be utilized and staged at the parking lot of the Bonsall Union School District, which is approximately 1.75 miles west of the site. The facility would not have a gift shop or other retail sales.

The existing on-site septic system would be upgraded to 7,000 gallons to support 100 guests, 30 full-time residents, and four volunteers. The Major Use Permit would require portable toilets for any event attended by more than 100 people. The new construction would also include two stormwater detention basins.

The original application for the Dai Dang Meditation Center was submitted on April 2, 2004. Three drafts of initial studies preceded the first draft environmental Negative Declaration, which was advertised for public review in October 2007. The response to public comments on that draft Negative Declaration was completed in May 2008, and the public review was followed by submittal of a visual study and submittal of the first draft of extended initial studies following the public review. The first draft of initial studies following the public review was submitted in November 2009, and subsequent draft initial studies led to the recirculation of the draft Mitigated Negative Declaration.

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Buddhist temple in Kannapolis, North Carolina, celebrates one year

From the outside, the building at 1602 Lane St. looks very much like the Protestant church it used to be.

Walking in, after leaving your shoes outside, you’ll notice that the pews have been replaced by long cushions.

The first thing to draw your eye, however, is an immense golden statue of Buddha. Flanked by two umbrellas, it indicates unequivocally that the modest Calvary Presbyterian Church has been transformed into something rather exotic for these parts — a Buddhist temple.

The Tinh Tam Buddhist Meditation Temple primarily serves Vietnamese Buddhists but welcomes anyone who wants to attend.

Buddha taught that the world is suffering, and the religion of Buddhism teaches freedom or liberation from suffering.

Sunday, Jan. 23, is a special celebration of the day when Buddha found enlightenment under the Bodhi tree — as well as the yearly ancestor memorial service and the temple’s first birthday celebration.

Outside of the church is an altar with piles of fruit and other offerings.

After leaving my shoes outside the door, I enter the temple, happy to be wearing wool socks on a chilly day. My informal guide to the service is Judith Felson, a member of the Tinh Tam congregation who grew up in Salisbury but who now lives in Mint Hill. As nearly as I can tell, she, photographer Sean Meyers and I are the only non-Vietnamese people attending — which isn’t surprising since services are conducted in Vietnamese.

Judith has been a Buddhist since the 1970s, she says. She attends the Kannapolis temple regularly and has taken her Refuge Vows, promising to adhere to the Five Precepts: to refrain from…

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Community planners hear more comments on Buddhist monastery expansion

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Gary Warth, North County Times, California: Proponents of a Buddhist meditation center proposed for Bonsall made one final pitch to a community advisory group Tuesday, but the project still seemed a tough sell to the board members.

“You want to work with the community?” Bonsall Community Sponsor Group member Mark Litner said to Frank Hoang, who represents the project. “I’m not feeling the love here of you trying to work with the community whatsoever.”

The meeting Tuesday was the second time in two weeks that the Sponsor Group, an advisory board to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, listened to public comments about a proposed three-building meditation center planned by the Vietnamese Buddhist Meditation Congregation for the Dai Dang Monastery off of Camino del Rey.

The Sponsor Group did not vote on the project Tuesday, but comments from individual members will be submitted to a county-required mitigated negative declaration, a document that describes why a proposed project would not have a significant impact on the environment.

About 10 Buddhist monks live at the monastery, which has operated for 10 years at 6326 Camino del Rey in Bonsall. The congregation hopes to expand the property, increasing the number of monks living at the site to 30. The number of people attending services on Sundays is expected to increase from about 100 to 300, and the congregation could hold four events a year that would each attract up to 1,000 people.

Residents near the monastery have expressed concerns that the center will be too large for the site and will increase traffic through the rural community.

Neighbors on Wrightwood Road to the north of the monastery said they are concerned that their street will be used as a second entrance to the property and that construction trucks will roll past their homes while the center is being built.

Hoang told the Sponsor Group that Wrightwood Road would not be used as an entrance to the meditation center, but said construction crews would have an option to use the road if they are willing to put up a bond that would pay for any damages they cause.

“That’s not acceptable,” a resident in the audience responded.

“What about peoples’ lives?” another said.

Public comments to the mitigated negative declaration will be accepted by the county until Feb. 11. County staff members then have three weeks to prepare the report for a public hearing that will be scheduled before the county Planning Commission. Any decision by the commission can be appealed to the county Board of Supervisors.

Hoang said that if the project is approved by the county, construction could begin by the end of the year. Asked after the meeting if he thought the county would approve the plans, Hoang said, “Our project is spotless.”

The Sponsor Group and several residents at the past two Bonsall meetings, however, had several objections to the project, including buses, possible ground contamination and portable toilets that would be placed within view of neighbors during large events.

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Neighbors wary of proposed new meditation center

The Bonsall [California] Community Sponsor Group delayed its recommendation on the Dai Dang Monastery‘s expansion plans after hearing more than two hours of testimony Tuesday night.

The group serves as an advisory body to the county Board of Supervisors, which will have the final say on the Buddhist monastery’s proposal for a two-story meditation center. The Bonsall advisory group has unanimously opposed expansion plans for the monastery in the past.

Several residents spoke against the planned expansion. Wrightwood Road residents to the north of the monastery expressed concerns, for example, that their street would be used as a new entrance to the center.

The monastery opened at 6326 Camino del Rey in Bonsall in 2001 and has been planning to build a meditation center since 2006.

The center would feature three new, two-story buildings, a paved 81-space parking lot and an unpaved 41-space lot on about 9 acres. The center now has two buildings it uses for a meditation center and a residence for 10 monks.

While some residents said they are concerned the new 7,664-square-foot meditation hall and 6,196-square-foot worship hall would open the door for large events at the site, monk Joe Roissier said the buildings are designed for quiet activities.

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“It seems like a lot of square footage,and I think people are concerned about that,” he said. “But we’re only there two times a day, and we’re sitting quietly, meditating.”

Monastery leaders said the expanded project would provide living quarters for about 20 more monks and that visitors on Sunday would increase from about 120 to 300.

Frank Hoang, spokesman for the monastery, said the center each year also may hold up to four events that attract 1,000 people.

The county requires a major use permit to build the project. As part of the process, the monastery also must acquire a mitigated negative declaration, a document that describes why it would not have a significant environmental impact in the area.

Public comments about the mitigated negative declaration will be accepted by the county until Feb. 11. The sponsor group held its meeting Tuesday to hear from the community before submitting its commits about the document. It will take up the issue again at its regular meeting 7 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Bonsall Community Center, 31505 Old River Road.

Chairwoman Margarette Morgan said she found many faults with the document, including a reference to the Borrego Springs Fire Department rather than the local fire department.

“There are so many errors, it’s unbelievable,” she said. “I am most displeased with the county.”

Morgan grilled Alex Jewell of project designer RBF Consulting about several aspects of the plan, including a proposed unlocked gate at Wrightwood Road, a concern to residents on that street. Jewell said fire officials said the gate should be unlocked for safety reasons. Morgan said that was unusual because emergency crews have keys to gated streets.

Other board members faulted the plan for having an unpaved parking lot, which they said could contaminate the ground, and questioned how a septic system could handle 300 guests on Sundays and up to 1,000 during special events.

Tan Nguyen, who said he is a consultant to the monastery monks, told the board that the congregation has operated peacefully throughout its 10-year history in the community.

“This project is for all of the Bonsall community, not just for us,” he said. “You are welcome to come here. We are here to share. We are here not to make any noise or any problems. You haven’t seen any traffic accidents or complaints. We don’t understand why you are opposing this thing, This is for everybody.”

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Testing Vietnam’s religious resolve

BBC News: Around 5,000 people, including hundreds of monks and lay followers from overseas, sit listening in a newly-built meditation hall.

Some have spent the night sleeping on mats, waking in the cold dawn to join the morning rituals.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen master, peace activist and bestselling author, has spent the last four decades living mostly in France.

This is only his second trip back to Vietnam since 1966, when he went to the United States to call for an end to the war in his homeland.

He was then forced to live in exile after both South and North Vietnam refused to allow him to return.

In 1969, he led a Buddhist delegation to the Paris peace talks on Vietnam.

Today, he is back in Vietnam on a 10-week tour that is testing the limits of the …

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More on meditation and Zen Master Thich Thanh Tu (Fort Wayne News Sentinel)

Tim Madigan: My own halting attempts to meditate had begun about six months ago after I stumbled across a meditation manual in, of all places, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reference library. Several days a week I would enter my den in my sweat suit (or whatever clothes I happened to be wearing that morning), shut off the computer and find the comfortable chair in the corner of our den. But on a recent evening at Quang Chieu Zen Monastery, the nuns would have none of that.

In a parlor at the monastery, they giggled when I put on my own gray meditation robe. Their laughter grew louder as they forced me to contort my fat Western legs beneath me in the position known as the half-lotus. Learning to ignore physical pain, they said, was part of the process.

Then I joined them in the temple, where I bowed toward the statue of Buddha and took my meditation position, sitting down on a big pillow and pulling my creaking legs beneath me. A layperson was on the mat to my right, the nun Cinnamon a few feet to my left. I laid my hands in my lap, looked out at oaks in the fading sunlight and began counting my breath, one to 10 then over again.

“If any thought arises, recognize this as not your true nature,” Cinnamon had instructed me earlier. “Drop it right away and return to your breathing. When conscious thinking stops, all that remains is calmness and awareness.”

So as I sat there that night, I thought of work, then returned to the counting. My son’s hockey team, then the counting. My daughter’s new apartment . . . the anniversary of my brother’s death . . . my aching legs, then back to the counting. I eventually switched to Tibetan mantras, then the Catholic rosary. Every so often, there were moments of true calm, a few blessed seconds when the wheels of my life ceased to spin, which, I take it, is the whole point of meditation.

After an hour or so, I began to cheat, looking around at the others, the nuns who had become my friends, plying me with mangoes and Vietnamese cooking at every opportunity, laughing at my Western jokes, trusting me with their ancient ways. They were from Vietnam, London, Denver, California, Washington state. One was a widow who had raised a family before becoming a nun. Another a lawyer. Another worked in banking before answering the spiritual call. To me, their kindness and tranquility were a testament to the efficacy of meditation.

An alarm clocked beeped, and one of the nuns lightly tapped a bell. The nuns rolled their heads and briskly massaged their arms and legs. When the nuns emerged from meditation, they seemed surprised that I was still there.

“Maybe,” a nun named Hue Thanh said, “you were Vietnamese in a past life.”

Opening the door to meditation

Inside the new temple, the floors are covered by lush gray carpet, the walls painted a vivid yellow, but the focal point, of course, is the huge statue of Buddha at the head of the room, surrounded by flowers, fruit offerings and a fluorescent halo (behind the statue’s head).

Each day begins here for the Quang Chieu Zen Monastery nuns, who at 4 a.m. walk from the small buildings where they sleep, moving through the darkness like apparitions in their gray robes. One of them lights incense, another rings the large bell near the altar. The nuns prostrate themselves toward the statue three times, then move to their separate mats, facing outer walls. For the next two hours (and again for 90 minutes in the evening), they sit with their legs crossed beneath them, as still as the Buddha statue itself.

But they are not in trances as they sit, as many Westerners might assume.Meditation is not a form of self-hypnosis, the nuns say, but the practice of emptying the mind while remaining aware. For beginning meditators in the Zen tradition, that typically means sitting quietly and focusing on breathing, while calmly trying to banish any intruding thoughts.

Such is the central practice of one of the world’s oldest religions, one handed down from Siddhartha Gautama, an Indian prince born six centuries before Christ. As a young man, Gautama renounced his wealth to become a wandering ascetic. After years of study and suffering, Gautama is said to have attained enlightenment while meditating beneath a ficus tree, henceforth becoming known to history as the Buddha, or “awakened one.”

Greatly distilled, Buddhist teaching comes to this: Life is an unpleasant cycle of birth, death and rebirth that continues until a person achieves enlightenment. The chief cause of the ubiquitous suffering is the chaotic, ego-driven human mind, which hops maniacally from thought to thought “like a monkey in a tree,” as the Zen nuns say. Meditation is the Buddhist antidote.

“You say to your mind, `I am the boss,’ ” the nun named Cinnamon said one day, smiling.

By calming the mind through meditation, a person’s “Buddha nature” (the Christian equivalent, perhaps, to the Holy Spirit) is allowed to emerge. Enlightenment, the full and permanent understanding of transcendence, is only rarely achieved, Buddhists say. But recent research shows that even a few minutes of meditation a day is beneficial to the meditator’s physical and mental health.

At the Quang Chieu Zen Monastery, the nuns say they can sit for hours, with thoughts only occasionally flitting by like wispy clouds in an otherwise blue sky. But in Zen, they say, meditation is about more than sitting. It also is an admonition to living in the moment. As such, the nuns say they meditate while walking, while eating, while watering the flowers.

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The nuns’ life: enlightenment without TV (Star-Telegram, Texas)

Tim Madigan, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas: Inside the new temple, the floors are covered by lush gray carpet, the walls painted a vivid yellow, but the focal point, of course, is the huge statue of Buddha at the head of the room, surrounded by flowers, fruit offerings and a fluorescent halo (behind the statue’s head).

Each day begins here for the Quang Chieu Zen Monastery nuns, who at 4 a.m. walk from the small buildings where they sleep, moving through the darkness like apparitions in their gray robes. One of them lights incense, another rings the large bell near the altar. The nuns prostrate themselves toward the statue three times, then move to their separate mats, facing outer walls. For the next two hours (and again for 90 minutes in the evening), they sit with their legs crossed beneath them, as still as the Buddha statue itself.

But they are not in trances as they sit, as many Westerners might assume. Meditation is not a form of self-hypnosis, the nuns say, but the practice of emptying the mind while remaining aware. For beginning meditators in the Zen tradition, that typically means sitting quietly and focusing on breathing, while calmly trying to banish any intruding thoughts.

Such is the central practice of one of the world’s oldest religions, one handed down from Siddhartha Gautama, an Indian prince born six centuries before Christ. As a young man, Gautama renounced his wealth to become a wandering ascetic. After years of study and suffering, Gautama is said to have attained enlightenment while meditating beneath a ficus tree, henceforth becoming known to history as the Buddha, or “awakened one.”

Greatly distilled, Buddhist teaching comes to this: Life is an unpleasant cycle of birth, death and rebirth that continues until a person achieves enlightenment. The chief cause of the ubiquitous suffering is the chaotic, ego-driven human mind, which hops maniacally from thought to thought “like a monkey in a tree,” as the Zen nuns say. Meditation is the Buddhist antidote.

“You say to your mind, ‘I am the boss,’ ” the nun named Cinnamon said one day, smiling.

By calming the mind through meditation, a person’s “Buddha nature” (the Christian equivalent, perhaps, to the Holy Spirit) is allowed to emerge. Enlightenment, the full and permanent understanding of transcendence, is only rarely achieved, Buddhists say. But recent research shows that even a few minutes of meditation a day is beneficial to the meditator’s physical and mental health.

At the Quang Chieu Zen Monastery, the nuns say they can sit for hours, with thoughts only occasionally flitting by like wispy clouds in an otherwise blue sky. But in Zen, they say, meditation is about more than sitting. It also is about living in the moment. As such, the nuns say they meditate while walking, while eating, while watering the flowers.

“You think of only water and flowers,” the abbess, Princess Snow, explained one day, waving her hands across her face. “Nothing else.”

Original article no longer available…

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Opposition is building to Buddhist monastery (San Diego Union Tribune)

Patty McCormac, San Diego Union-Tribune: About 200 residents have signed petitions against a Buddhist monastery and meditation center proposed for a hillside above the San Luis Rey Downs Country Club.

Opponents say the Asian-style temple would be architecturally inappropriate for the rural atmosphere embraced by Bonsall residents and would attract more traffic and put a strain on infrastructure.

“It will stick out like a sore thumb,” said Richard Blakley, a neighbor of the existing monastery on the site, a single-family home in the 6300 block of Camino Del Rey that houses several monks.

“I’ve heard it will eventually be 20,000 square feet, and they want it to be the largest Vietnamese Temple in Southern California,” Blakley said.

Blakley said he fears a tourist attraction that would draw thousands of people. Monastery representatives, he said, gave few details about their plans when they floated the idea to neighbors at a Jan. 17 party at the site.

“They said it would draw a larger crowd when the master visited once or twice a year, but now there are upward of 100 people there every week,” said Blakley, 65, a machine shop owner.

“We don’t want any church there or any business,” said Jim Jamieson, 57, a certified public accountant. “I don’t want a cathedral there, and I’m Catholic.”

On March 2, a group of residents appeared before the Bonsall Community Sponsor Group with complaints they wanted investigated, said Margarette Morgan, chairman of the panel, which advises the county on land-use issues.

“They (the monks) had invited some of the neighbors over and were using an area formerly used as a stable to serve food. The neighbors also observed that there were several monks living in the single-family home,” Morgan said.

She said the complaints included that the property has become a meeting place for a large number of religious practitioners; that many vehicles are regularly parked on the property; that they regularly serve food; and the number of people on the site must be overtaxing the septic system of the home.

The plans for the monastery have yet to be submitted to the county, Morgan said, but the property owners have told county officials they plan an 11,000-square-foot building, which would require a major-use permit, Morgan said.

“We haven’t submitted anything to the county, so what the neighbors think is just that. They haven’t seen a conceptual plan,” said Chris Brown, a consultant hired by the monastery to help them navigate the county planning process.

“We are planning to submit a major-use permit, which is required, within the next month. At that time, we will go out into the community and we will show them and discuss our plans with them. I will seek their input on the project.”

He said the site eventually would have three buildings, which would include a place for about 30 monks to live, a meditation hall and support buildings for bathrooms and a kitchen.

“The last thing these people want to do is build a monstrosity with parking lots,” Brown said. “The whole idea behind this is ‘quiet.’ ”

A rendering of the proposed project has circulated among residents of the area. The Dai Dang Monastery was founded in Bonsall in 2001 by the Vietnamese Buddhist Meditation Congregation, followers of the Mayahana school of Zen Buddhism practiced in Vietnam.

Myhanh Phan, a co-founder of the monastery, said a temple is not part of its plans.

“We want to do the meditation center, not a temple, just a meditation center so people can come during the weekend for meditation,” she said. “We still have to apply and get permission.”

As for traffic, she said, since visitors to the monastery come only on weekends, the traffic generated would be much less than commuter traffic.

Upon hearing that some neighbors were not enthusiastic about the construction plans, she was philosophical.

“This is American country, and everyone has the freedom to speak as they do,” she said. “They can think anything they want; everyone has different thinking. If they mind, I don’t know how to prevent them.

“I think Bonsall is a nice place for meditation. It is quiet and peaceful.”

But Blakley, Jamieson and other neighbors contend that if the construction is approved, their rural lifestyle will be threatened. As it is, state Route 76 and Camino Del Rey are crowded with trucks and automobile traffic all week, they said.

Those who travel Camino Del Rey said the monastery’s driveway is on a blind curve and several residents have already had close calls with vehicles exiting and entering the property, Blakley said.

A spokesman from the office of County Supervisor Bill Horn, said it would be premature for Horn to comment because he has yet to see any formal plans for the monastery. Until he sees something concrete, he must remain impartial, the spokesman said.

Patty McCormac is a free-lance writer who lives in Vista.

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