The Blue Lotus Medication Center has been closed since mid-March, offering only virtual classes, as well as meditation and yoga sessions.
On Wednesday I met Bhante Chan, the center’s leader, who has been a monk since the age of 10.
Growing up in a neighborhood where he saw lots of Buddhist monks, including many “little monks” he was inspired to become a monk, too.
“It looked like they were having fun,” he said.
Although his parents were Buddhists, they were not eager to have their son leave home at his tender age. Yet after a few days they let him embark on a path that would last a lifetime, taking him to the Chicago area and then, more recently, to Tampa and the Blue Lotus center in Venice.
With two other monks and several volunteers, he operates the center and offers a plethora of programs including meditation sessions, yoga and more.
Now, as the center contemplates reopening, it has added a gift shop where visitors can purchase items relating to the various religions observed there, as well as items jewelry and other wearables.
Programs remain online as the pandemic continues but Chan is working toward reopening the center as soon as they consider it safe to do so.
What they teach at the Blue Lotus is not confined to one religion but is intended for all people, he said.
On the center’s website the teaching of the Blue Lotus is explained as “methodical, logical, practical and scientific.
It teaches Buddhism followers how precious life is and provides important guidance to be content.
“From birth to death humans go through many changes in life,” it states. “However, these milestones do not always bring happiness. Each day people strive to be happy rather than being happy with what they already have.
“Desire is what drives us to get what we want, although this drive doesn’t guarantee happiness. Happiness depends on choices each individual makes.
“Therefore, Buddha’s teachings encourage us to find the balance we need in life. This is called middle path. This doesn’t come to us naturally; therefore, it requires a lot discipline. This can be done being mindful in each moment. This is where the mindfulness comes to play.
“As we apply mindfulness to day-to-day life, we become more connected with ourselves and with our surroundings. We do what we do knowing rather than being an autopilot. Our goals, dreams, aspirations become more clear, and realistic.
“It’s a journey within. Serenity Temple invites you be a part of our community and learn and grow with us to become a mindful and kind community.”
The words could be spoken in regard to almost any religion and the Blue Lotus in fact does welcome people of all faiths.
“We have many who come from the Unitarian and Unity churches and other places,” he said.
Blue Lotus is in a small blue building at 714 Shamrock Blvd., in Venice Gardens.