This past weekend, I traveled to Chicago to the Pure Land and Amitabha Library and attended their Sunday service. My Venerable, Venurable Wuling, supplied me with a haiqings (Robe) to use and I had to learn how to do prostrations. We spent an hour between proper technique on the robe and on the prostrations and I spent about an hour during the week practicing for the service.
I arrived early the day of the service and felt a bit out of place as I was not Chinese! but everyone made me feel welcome. As you walk in at the start of the service, you need to do three prostrations which I had practiced and performed well but then I had to try to follow along with the service. I was lucky to be standing by someone who told me what I needed to do when I had to do it. So every bow, prostration, chant..etc, he let me know as needed.
Beautifully, they started doing a chant/prayer similar to the one you will see and here on Youtube and I just could not follow along with it. Finally they got to the Amituofo chant, as seen around the 5 minute mark on this youtube video. I have done a similar chant but their chant changed speed and tone, I was nervous about making any mistakes but once I started hearing the chant, I was really put at ease.
Afterwards they had a vegetarian lunch, I recognized the Tofu and Lo-Mein and happily sampled everything else they offered. They also had a dharma talk about one of the Sutra’s. The dharma talk was in Chinese so thankfully someone translated for me while he was also translating for his daughter in Seattle Washington via Skype.
Towards the end of the day, I really felt welcomed. The center was extremely beautiful complete with Buddha statues, glass lights in the shape of Lotus flowers and extremely beautiful wood carvings. It really was a great experience! I will leave you with some pictures of the center.