The Wat Dhammasujitto Meditation Center in Fawnskin is a tranquil, eerily silent place to get in touch with your spirituality—if you can find the place.
The temple is tucked away behind a house at 1125 Chickasaw Lane, but you can’t miss the pristine white walls and steeped red roof.
At the temple, which is based in the Telawada Buddhist faith, you’ll find three monks living their peaceful lives—eating and drinking only what was given to them. The monks, Henri Nelson and Suban Nanthanom, and the Abbott of the temple, Sombat Wancsaame, live off donations of food, water and other supplies. And they’re not picky.
“We eat Thai food, Chinese food, Mexican food or American food,” Wancsaame, of Thailand, said. “If the people donate it, we must eat it, because they are being generous.”
The dichotomies within the temple are many and diverse. The monks dress in simple robes and sandals, but the temple is decorated with ornate sculptures and fixtures, some of which came directly from Thailand. Some fixtures, however, are created by the monks themselves.
“Come see my beauty,” Nanthanom said, waving this reporter to the temple basement. Once downstairs, Nanthanom displayed wildly colorful window trimmings the monks have been constructing and painting themselves. The trimmings are made from a fiberglass mold, dried overnight, and then painted.
“Not today,” Nanthanom said of painting the trimmings. “Abbott out of town, today break day.” Though the monks all speak broken English, their message is clear.
Wancsaame said the temple, which opened three years ago, is open to all faiths. “We are open to all people,” he said. “Anyone who wants to donate, meditate or practice their religion is welcome.”
The land the temple sits on was donated to Wancsaame 15 years ago by Nelson and his wife, Suvi. Nanthanom sees all walks of life making pilgrimages to the temple for all kinds of purposes.
“There’s a good mix,” Nanthanom said. “Asian people, white people, Americans, Europeans, they all come here for meditation and inner peace.”
That’s why Nanthanom, who also immigrated from Thailand, came to this temple. “We do 30 minutes of chants and 30 minutes of meditation one day a week,” he said. “We just sit in the peace and the spiritual power is different (from other churches).”
Wancsaame said the temple is open to anyone wishing to use it, so long as they call ahead and make an appointment. “We will be here to open the temple for people (who) want to meditate or just see the temple,” he said.
On Sept. 14 at 10:30 a.m., Wancsaame said the temple will hold a pot luck, featuring Thai food for all. Bring a dish to share.
Anyone looking for a spiritual experience unlike ones you may have experienced, or want to donate food, call the temple at 909-866-5853 or 626-825-6077 to set up an appointment. Just make sure once you arrive, you take your shoes off before entering.
Contact reporter Brett Croxton at 909-866-3456, ext. 142 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.