Early in 2013 Aunty Peggy Tidyman and a delegation of the local Logan Elders were invited to the Chung Tian Temple as part of building understanding between Indigenous and Buddhist cultures.
Not surprisingly both cultures share a great respect for the environment and embrace the fact that we are honoured with the responsibility to care for the land.
In a sign of friendship Aunty Peggy gathered soil from the Temple grounds and after a traditional Blessing Ceremony presented it to Master Chueh Shan, Abbess of the Chung Tian Temple for safekeeping till the return of the Elders to place the soil back within the earth.
Acknowledging the traditional owners of the land the Blessing Ceremony represented a great privilege as it provided permission for all who now use the Chung Tian Temple to practice their beliefs and culture on the Temple grounds. Reflecting on the Blessing Ceremony Aunty Peggy said: “We have come as friends but we now leave as family”.
One year later and marking the sixth anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s sorry to the Indigenous people of this country a gathering between the Logan Elders and the Buddhist of the Chung Tian Temple took place to return the blessed soil to the earth.
Representatives of the Indigeneous community included: Aunty Peggy Tidyman, Chairperson of the Logan Elders; husband Phil; Aunty Betty McGrady; Aunty Cathy Jackson; and Uncle Paddy Brown. Joining the Ceremony from the Multi-faith Community were Susan and Justin Handley from the Baha’i community and Imam Tariq from the Islamic community. President Kim Wu from the Buddha’s Light International Association of Queensland was also in attendance with a number of members from the Association.
In a simple ceremony at dusk the group stood solemnly and bare footed around the Chung Tian Temple’s Bodhi Tree. In an act of returning the blessed soil back to the earth, each person gathered a handful of soil and sprinkled it around the base of the Bodhi Tree. Breaking the silence a number of kookaburras began singing from the surrounding gum trees while some local wallabies which were grazing nearby looked up to see what all the commotion was about.
Reflecting on this meaningful Act of Reconciliation Master Shan shared: “that the Bodhi Tree at the Chung Tian Temple is descended from the original tree that Buddha sat under when he was enlightened. It holds great meaning that both Indigenous and Buddhist cultures can share this spot as one of being sacred and blessed”.
Aunty Peggy declared: “that from now on Indigenous people will hold this ground under the Bodhi Tree as a sacred site and whenever we visit we will take off our shoes as a sign of respect to the Blessed land that we now stand on”.
The Blessing of the Soil has brought together greater understanding between people from the Indigenous and Buddhist community and further activities are now being planned for a strengthening and sharing of the two cultures.