Monday, September 13, 2010

The Santa Ana Temple Experience

Yesterday, I had an amazing experience. OK, nothing crazy happened, but TO ME it was amazing. I decided to go to another Vietnamese Temple with Rev. Kusala, this time in Santa Ana, to sing some peace songs to the kids there. For those readers who grew up in Judeo-Christian institutions, let me briefly describe the temples. I have now been to 3 different ones, and all share the following characteristics:

1. The children wear the same blue uniforms with little lapel pins that don the image of a Lotus flower. In Buddhism, the Lotus is an important symbol, because a Lotus is a beautiful flower that grows from muddy, yucky water. It is symbolic, because the Buddha saw humanity as capable of the same transformation.

2. The children are incredibly well-behaved and attentive. They listen to their leaders.

3. There are many teenagers and adults present, and they all have roles like group leader, teacher, parent, nun, monk.

4. They have an organized schedule during their "Sunday School" that includes physical exercise, chanting, praying, and socializing.

So now that you have a better understanding of the environment, I can tell you what this "amazing thing" is that happened. After Kusala introduced me to the crowd, I explained that I have made an important decision as a musician, and that is this: I only write peace songs. What I thought would be a minor sentence in my introductory speech building up to a new song was actually met with a huge round of applause and cheers. Let me remind you again that the audience was mostly children and teenagers.
I have never been more surprised and caught off-guard by a round of applause! 

Through their cheers, I heard them telling me that they were relieved to hear this! I was high all day long from this encouragement. The leaders and children asked me to come back next month, and I heard hope and a tiny hint of pleading in their voices, and so of course, I said yes.  How can I refuse an audience that believes in the power of a peace song? I can't.

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