While more and more people in Albury starting to be aware of the Buddhist temple in Albury that it provides Sunday services in English which include meditation, Dhamma talks and chances to offer food to a Buddhist monk, there is this news in the local newspaper heading “Buddhist temple mystery”. What this mystery is all about? The following answers from Ajahn Satit, the Buddhist monk at the temple in South Albury would help shed some light into the situation.
Q: What this mystery is all about?
A: First of all, I like to make it clear that what is so called “the mystery” was here long before I arrived in Albury and reopened the temple in December 2010.
Q: When you said ‘reopened’ that means the temple was not operated then? Can you clarify that?
A: What I was told was that this property had been bought to be a temple in 1986 by the Lao community. (Wat Phouthavongsayaram Lao Buddhist Association Inc.), and it was used as a temple for the Lao community for numbers of year.
Q: What went wrong with the association?
A: I would not comment about that because I don’t know what was the real story, but apparently the association was deregistered by Consumer Affairs of Victoria in 2001. So it simply made the temple property own by a deregistered association which cannot do any legal transaction.
Q: Why are you here since you know there is a problem?
A: When I was at the temple in Sydney I received a phone call from a Thai monk who was here at the time and also from the former president of that deregistered association. They were telling me about the difficult situation that they could not keep the temple running any longer due to social conflict and financial difficulty. They thought that our team could fix the problem. I did not say yes at first but our team and I came for a survey.
Q: What you find out from the survey?
A: We found that it would not be any easy task to rebuild the temple reputation as we found very little support from the community.
Q: What did make you finally decided to come here?
A: I would say “the challenge”. It is the word “the only one Buddhist temple in Albury and the surrounding area of 200 kilometre radius so if we don’t do anything, there would be no place where people can come to learn about Buddhism in this region.
Q: How did you go through these difficulties?
A: We were confident with the value of Dhamma (the teaching of the Buddha), it has much more value than any precious gems in the world, because Dhamma can change people life to be better. We have Dhamma as our capital. We also provide our services in English which means we open up the temple to a broader community than what it used to be.
Q: How did you run the temple that you did not own?
A: No, we do not own the property. The ownership and legal right of the property are the matter for the legal team of the current owner to deal with and make right of the situation.
We run the temple under a new entity “Wat Buddhavongsayaram Inc.” which is registered with Fair Treading of NSW. Wat Buddhavongsayaram Inc. operates and pays for the on going expenses of the temple such as council rate, electricity, general maintenance and the repayment to the bank. Wat Buddhavongsayaram Inc does not own the property. This is one reason why we did not do a lot of development at the temple, we just use the facility to run as a Buddhist temple.
Q: Are you satisfy with the work you have done here?
A: Yes. I’m satisfy with the growing number of people who come on Sunday.
Q: What would you say about the future of the Buddhist Temple in Albury?
A: If you mean the place it is still uncertain, however we should be happy, the authority now have progress to resolve this matter. We hope the result will make everyone happy. But if you mean the Buddhist community, it will definitely grow as long as they bring Dhamma to practice. In the worse case, if we have to leave 605 Abercorn St. we will find a new suitable place. In the mean time before the authority makes its final conclusion, we will continue to provide Sunday services every Sunday. Please come to experience our local Buddhist temple in South Albury.
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