The New Manila district of Quezon City has many places of worship, with most of these are of the Christian faith, specifically of the Roman Catholic belief. However, one of the newest religious centers is the Buddhist Wisdom Park, located along Broadway Avenue, around a 120 meters walk from Aurora Boulevard.Opened in 2012, the temple is from the Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhist sect, and is operated by the Universal Wisdom Foundation, Inc.
Upon entering the Wisdom Park, the first thing that greets visitors is a stupa, which is patterned after the one that you find those found in the Taizi Temple, in Mount Kawa Gabo, of the Dêgê (Land of Mercy) region of Tibet. A stupa is a Buddhist temple that has “levels” that center around the life of Siddhārtha Gautama (563-400 BC), the first Buddha. However, the Tibetan stupa, called a Kālacakra stupa or Chörten in Tibet, is more symbolical of the certain tenets of Kālacakra Tantra of Vajrayana Buddhism.
This specific Chörten is the stupa of enlightenment, with a square base that represents the earth element, which is the throne of Buddha, as well as symbolical of the body’s bones and muscle. Placed on top of the base is a dome that represents water, wisdom, the bodily fluids, and blood. Following the dome is a cone (or spire) that symbolizes the element of fire, life, and the body’s metabolism. At the tip of the cone is a crown that represents air, creativity, and our breath. And finally at the top of the crown is flame of the ether, power, and the spirit.
Next to the Chörten is the sacred tree called the Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa), which was planted in 2011. The Wisdom Park tree was a sampling taken from a Bodhi tree that was planted in 288 BC, and is said to be the direct descendant of the actual tree in which Siddhārtha Gautama had sat under and meditated for forty nine and gained enlightenment. This Bodhi tree can be found in at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India.
The whole area in front of the Wisdom Park building is called the Meditation Garden, with several areas to sit in contemplation among the green. In the northwestern side of the garden is a large Treasure Bowl called a Kōro in Japanese, and Xianglu in Chinese. The Kōro is traditionally a bowl filled with sand, where incense sticks a place for prayer and meditation. This Kōro has been converted into a fountain, with an image of a young Buddha, which related to the story of his miraculously right after birth, and taking seven steps before addressing the world. On the sides of the Kōro are six dragons, which symbolize the six stages to attain enlightenment.
The Wisdom park building has 3 floors going up, and a basement. The first floor is basically the lobby as well as the offices of the Universal Wisdom Foundation; while at the second floor is a training hall and library. In the library art hundreds of statues of the Shakyamuni Buddha, or a portrayal of the historical Buddha, which they give to people who join their weekend rites. Made in Tibet, these bronze statues portray the Buddha in seated lotus position that he had taken while meditating under the Bodhi tree. The Buddha’s right hand is touching the earth, as a representation of the transcendence from earthly desires and conflicts. His left hand holds the alms bowl of a monk.
At the 3rd floor, is the Hall of Worship, as well as artifacts used in Buddhist practice, and photographs of the monks that have contributed to the Wisdom Park.
At the center of the basement is a LED lit lotus flower, which represents the rebirth or reincarnation, one of the tenets of Buddhism. This area also serves as a multi-function hall of the Wisdom Park.
The Wisdom Park is a welcome addition to the spiritual community of New Manila, especially for the growing number of Buddhists residing in the area. The Buddhist community have had old roots in Quezon City, which is represented by the 1948 establishment of the Poh Chong Temple on nearby Conrado Benitez (1889-1971) Street, in Cubao. This was followed, in 1975, by the Holy Buddhist Temple along N. Domingo Street, at the border of Cubao and New Manila. Now, all three temples stand as cultural treasures of Quezon City.