Oxford Buddha Vihara was founded in 2003 by Venerable Dr Khammai Dhammasami from Shan State in Myanmar and has since developed into a thriving community of monks and lay Buddhists from many countries and cultures, welcoming visitors from all faiths and none.
In keeping with the tradition of SE Asian temples, the vihara and its monks rely on the generosity of those who support them through donations – this may take the form of food, medicine, money, time and work.
Venerable Dr Khammai Dhammasami is from Shan State in Myanmar. He is OBV’s abbot, the Buddhist chaplain to Oxford University, a member of the Oxford Council of Faith, a fellow of Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, and a world council member for Religion for Peace (UN NY).
Many people, when they arrive at the Vihara, will greet each other by placing their hands together over their hearts and making a slight bow from the waist, in the Asian tradition.
Some use the standing bow. Others prefer to bow three times from kneeling. The bowing represents respect for the monastic life and is not a statement of deference to the individual. There is no need to bow if you don’t want to.
Most of the statues you will see at the Vihara are representations of the Buddha in different postures. Some visitors like to bow towards the Buddha figure three times from kneeling when they first enter the room where the altar is located.
Traditionally this is a way of paying respect to three things: the Buddha and his example of awakening; his teaching; and the community of people following his teaching. Others bow down to corresponding principles of awareness, truthfulness and selflessness. If you do not feel like bowing then please do not feel you have to.
Shoes are left at the door or just inside the door. This helps keep the carpets clean and is considered a sign of respect to the Vihara.
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