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Thai Buddha statue presented to Center for Buddhist Studies
As the sun began to break through the clouds just before noon on Monday, 14 monks chanted alongside a small, brilliantly golden statue of Buddha in the arcade just outside Building 70.
What they were uttering -- in Pali, the traditional language of Theravada Buddhism -- was the Karaniya Metta Sutta, with which they "taught" the statue Buddha's words on loving-kindness. Until the Thai bronze figure was consecrated in this manner, it was just a piece of metal, said Gabriel Molieri, a monk and graduate student at the School of Education, explaining the ceremony to a small group of onlookers.
Commissioned for the Stanford Center for Buddhist Studies by the Council of Senior Theravada Monks, the thus-empowered symbol of the Tathagatha ("Enlightened One") now peers down upon the scholarly hustle and bustle of the center's offices from its perch atop a filing cabinet.
The monks on hand were mostly from Wat Buddhapradeep in San Bruno, the Theravada Buddhist temple founded by the queen of Thailand. Vudhi Chuchom, a retired Thai ambassador, first suggested the idea of presenting the center with a Buddhist statue a few years ago. Chuchom arrived at the event wearing a black Florida Gators baseball cap. His wife attended the ceremony, too.
"The 'loving-kindness' is perhaps one of the most important teachings of Buddha," Molieri told the crowd. He chanted a passage that, translated, means: "Even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child, so with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings."
The Center for Buddhist Studies, established in 1997, serves to coordinate, support and develop the university's resources in Buddhist studies. It is co-directed by Professor Carl Bielefeldt, chair of the Religious Studies Department, and Bernard Faure, the George Edwin Burnell Professor in Religious Studies.
By John Sanford