Fo Guang Shan Nevada Lotus Temple’s Grand Reopening After Devastating Fire

As the lotus rises up and pushes through the mud toward the sun’s light, Fo Guang Shan Nevada Lotus Temple, located in Las Vegas, Nevada, has emerged victoriously in full vibrancy after having faced a devastating fire on October 25, 2019, which completely destroyed the Main Shrine. A consecration ceremony and grand opening was held Jan. 11, 2024, with more than 200 attending the heartwarming celebration.

After more than four years of reconstruction efforts, under the guidance of Abbess Ven. Hui Kuang, superintendent Ven. Yin Jian, and Ven. Man Jing, and with the wholehearted support of benefactors Newman Arndt and Johnathon Arndt; as well as, the diligent efforts of many Dharma protectors and devotees. The ceremony was honored by the presence of the abbot of Fo Guang Shan Taihua Temple (Thailand), Ven. Hsin Ting, abbot of Hsi Lai Temple, Ven. Hui Dong, and Ven. Hui Ze from Hsi Lai Temple presided over the consecration ceremony.

During their speeches, both Abbess Ven. Hui Guang and Superintendent Ven. Yin Jian expressed gratitude to Abbot Ven. Hsin Ting made such a long special journey to preside over the ceremony, welcoming everyone and expressing their thanks multiple times in English with the word "happy."

Ven. Man Jing emphasized special thanks to Newman Arndt and Johnathon Arndt for their selfless financial and labor contributions. The construction contractor, Corey Yanke, worked tirelessly day and night, and his wife, Rachel Yanke, the highest-ranking security leader in Las Vegas, helped invite government officials to the consecration ceremony.

"May the Lotus Gem Stupa radiate auspiciousness, and all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas emit light. In celebration of the new completion, may the Dharma protectors and supporters enjoy eternal peace," imparted the abbot Ven. Hsin Ting during his speech. Venerable Master Hsing Yun highlighted the importance of a temple, comparing a temple to a school, a refueling station in life, and a department store for the soul. People learn a lot in a temple – knowledge, principles, wisdom, compassion, and tolerance – and understand the importance of respecting and protecting others' lives and wealth. The Buddha's realization of the law of causality allows sentient beings to understand the arising and ceasing of causality, leading to liberation. Temples also serve as refueling stations, where everyone has the opportunity to become saints or Buddhas. Life's unpleasant experiences are just a phase in causality that will eventually pass, and individuals should keep moving forward. When facing setbacks in life, visiting a temple brings joy, eliminating the need to search for happiness outside.

Speaking in English, Abbot Ven. Hui Dong traced the history of Fo Guang Shan and encouraged everyone to collectively support Lotus Temple in continuing the promotion of Humanistic Buddhism advocated by the founder, Venerable Master Hsing Yun. The efforts of Fo Guang Shan monastic in propagating the Dharma and the wholehearted support from members of the Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA) are likened to the wings of a bird – both are indispensable. Abbot Ven. Hui Dong blessed Lotus Temple with prosperity in Dharma affairs and urged it to continue promoting religious harmony and community peace in Las Vegas, may the Buddha’s light shine universally and the Dharma water flow eternally.

In the afternoon, Lotus Temple arranged a Diamond Repentance Dharma Service to express gratitude to Dharma protectors, devotees, benefactors, and supporters for their assistance, bringing the consecration ceremony to a successful conclusion.

Among the distinguished guests were the representative of the Governor of Nevada, Iris Jones, representatives of two Nevada legislators, Chief John Steinbeck of the Clark County Fire Department, Deputy Chief Branden Clarkson of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, representatives from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), the president of BLIA Nevada Chapter, Li-Ming Wu, and vice presidents from BLIA Los Angeles Chapter, Steven Chow, Echo Tsai, Connie Yip, and Phoenix Chapter senior advisor Hui-Xian Huang, as well as Dharma protectors and devotees, benefactors, and the construction contractor. Nearly 20 venerables from various Fo Guang Shan North America branches, along with more than 70 members from BLIA Nevada, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Phoenix Chapters, totaling over 200 people, attended the ceremony, sharing the joy of the Dharma.

(Photos by Chih-Cheng Chang)