(SYRACUSE, 2018) Huyen Pham renounced the world at 14 years old in Vietnam where she was born and raised. For a son to renounce the world brings great honor to the family, while a girl who renounces the world to become a nun brings little prestige to the family and can even be embarrassing. "I felt like it was my destiny, so I went against their will." She recounted.
(SYRACUSE, 2018) Huyen is now residing in Ngoc Duyen temple in North Syracuse, New York. She prays everyday, here she's in front of the altar of the temple's founder.
(SYRACUSE, 2018) After the weekly service on Sunday morning, the community come together for a free vegetarian lunch offered by the temple and share comfortably without any cultural or language barrier. Huyen hands out small treats to people who come to the temple.
(SYRACUSE, 2018) Huyen meditates at least twice a day after chanting and saying prayers. It is an essential practice for individuals on the path to enlightenment. Meditation emphasizes the combination of insight and compassion. Some schools of Buddhism say that the highest level of meditation can even help one achieve out-of-body experience.
(SYRACUSE, 2018) Some devoted Buddhists from afar made donations to the temple in all shapes and sizes.
(SYRACUSE, 2018) Ngoc Duyen Temple is where the spirit of the Vietnamese Buddhist community lives. Many, most of them immigrants, come to chant the scripture, listen to lectures, and have a vegeterian feast together.
(SYRACUSE, 2018) Huyen and Tai Shaw brings food to the workers next door who are helping with the temple's renovation. Shaw is the newly-elected president of the Vietnamese community organization in Syracuse.
(SYRACUSE, 2018) Shaw comes to the temple to talk with Huyen about the community and what they need. Religion is an important part in their lives and Huyen is considered one of the spiritual leaders of the community.
(SYRACUSE, 2018) Ngoc Duyen temple is undergoing expansion. The house next door is being renovated to be a guesthouse for people who come from outside Syracuse to stay over. Huyen helps with as much as possible. "I'm just doing my small part, they're the ones doing all the good, important work." She said.
(SYRACUSE, 2018) Huyen takes good care of the workers to show her and the community's appreciation for them. She's making tea while they're having lunch that the temple made.
(SYRACUSE, 2018) The workers are all people from the community who offer to help the temple for free. They only accept daily meals from the temple but other than that, no payment whatsoever.
(SYRACUSE, 2018) Though Buddhism considers the physical human body to be only temporary, self-nurturing is still important. Huyen went through a stomach surgery in early October. She takes a dose of turmeric medicine which has great healing effects according to traditional Vietnamese medicine.
(SYRACUSE, 2018) Huyen finds joy and tranquility in serving the community.