About Jinyin Temple
How We Established Jinyin Temple in the Poconos
Jinyin Temple of Sino Esoteric Buddhism (Tangmi Buddhism) was established by His Holiness the Vajra Master Jinke Xuanlei and his disciples in 2017. The 36-acre property was purchased for $3,500,000 through fundraising and loans.
As a non-profit organization, it is not only the first Sino Esoteric Buddhist temple established in the United State, but also a multi-functional spiritual center of peace, service, and education for all people of any faith tradition. Different from traditional churches and ordinary temples or shrines, it is being built as an international spiritual center open to religious practitioners and the public from all over the world.
Since the religious persecution that occurred during the reign of Emperor Wuzong of Tang (814 - 846), Sino Esoteric Buddhism has existed uninterrupted in secret since the 9th century until the Vajra Master Jinke Xuanlei came out from the remote mountains in Guangxi, China in the 1900s. After years of cultivation with his Master, Master Jinyin, His Holiness the Vajra Master Jinke Xuanlei became fully enlightened and came to our world with the Bodhi wisdom seeds of the Buddha to propagate the Buddha-Dharma. He has devoted his entire life to the acts of altruism and great love, dedicating all the wisdom, compassion, merit, and aspirations to the sentient beings at large. Since the 1990s, the Vajra Master has traveled to more than 30 countries and regions to spread the culture of Tangmi. He aims to disseminate the seeds of peace, friendship, and loving-kindness across the globe, promote world peace and bridge the friendship between all peoples around the world through cultural exchanges.
In February 2017, His Holiness the Vajra Master Jinke Xuanlei was invited to deliver a keynote speech and pray for world peace at the National Prayer Breakfast, a solemn annual event attended by the US president, congressmen and representatives from major religions, in Washington D.C. The Master’s speech received acknowledgement and admiration from all walks of life around the world. In order to foster the global understanding of ancient Eastern civilization, promote world peace, and establish an inclusive spiritual space for all sentient beings, the Master established the Sino Esoteric Buddhism World Association (United States) in New York on January 28, 2017.
Jinyin Temple is located next to the Poconos National Forest Park where the ecosystem is well preserved with exuberant vegetation. The property is being transformed from an abandoned resort to a sacred spiritual sanctuary of harmony and peace. The Vajra Master chose to establish Jinyin Temple and the World Peace Prayer Mandala in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania after entering into samadhi, the deepest meditative state of mind. This is the sacred arrangement of the Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and God. Under his leadership, disciples and followers from China and overseas have been coming together in Pennsylvania to contribute to the building of Jinyin Temple of Sino Esoteric Buddhism.
Jinyin Temple is not only the first Sino Esoteric Buddhist temple established in the United State, but also a multi-functional spiritual center of peace, service, and education for all people of any faith tradition. Different from traditional churches and ordinary temples or shrines, it is being built as a major international spiritual center open to religious practitioners and the public from all over the world. It is a Center of World Peace serving to spread the spirit of loving-kindness and compassion and to strengthen the friendship between the peoples from different cultures! R. Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, California sent his warm invitation to the Vajra Master to spread Sino Esoteric Buddhism on the West Coast and build the world's tallest Mahāvairocana Buddha Statue there. Many others have also invited the Master to establish a temple of Sino Esoteric Buddhism in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and many other places across the United States. The Vajra Master and his sangha were invited to research institutions such as Harvard Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, and the Catholic University for cultural exchanges. During these events, experts and scholars also expressed their hopes for the establishment of an interactive organization combining research and spiritual practice at a center of Sino Esoteric Buddhism. This also led to the decision to establish a main base for the Sino Esoteric Buddhist lineage in the United States.
From Ruins to A Temple & Many Trials and Tribulations
This section reveals facts and unfortunate incidents Jinyin Temple has encountered since its establishment on the property in October 2017.
Prior to October 2017, the property had been abandoned for many years. The majority of the buildings and equipment here were heavily damaged and decayed. Every roof leaked, some walls were smashed, and piles of waste were visible all over the land. The entire place was covered with garbage, animal corpses, feces, and moldy carpets. The Master himself led his disciples through an arduous struggle to restore the natural environment and habitable spaces. It took the organization nearly a year to clean up the mess which filled more than 30 rented garbage containers.
While facing a difficult renovation and construction situation as such, the disciples of the Temple and the Tangmi lineage have maintained a positive attitude and worked very hard to build this home of peace and great love. Although it was a physically and mentally tiring process, every disciple felt that their efforts were worthwhile, for the happiness and relief in their hearts witnessing this formerly mistreated, derelict wilderness becoming pure and beautiful by the day.
Yet, upon the completion of the design plans for the Temple and the designated disciples were ready to move forward with the construction projects, Jinyin Temple’s construction underwent an unexpected fire in 2018, during which the previous event center was razed to the ground overnight. This building had a capacity of approximately 3,000 people and had been used as the Main Prayer Hall after renovation. In addition to the total destruction of the original building, many objects within were destroyed in the fire, including 13 boxes of Buddhist decorative art pieces inlaid with precious stones, over 100 pieces of mahogany furniture, a bronze bell, many books and scriptures, numerous paintings and calligraphic works, a painting and calligraphy mounting machine, Mandala Vajra statues unique to Sino Esoteric Buddhism, more than 500 chairs, air conditioners, audio equipment and a large quantity of building materials. All these precious materials had all been donated by devout believers from all over the world. This news saddened every one of them.
This colossal damage brought extreme grievance and pain to all disciples of the lineage and interrupted the initial planning of the Temple. With this renovated prayer hall burned to the ground, the organization faces the challenges of funding and designing a new prayer hall, and negotiations with the insurance company about the claim settlement. To date, Jinyin Temple has yet to receive the payment from the Temple’s insurance claim. This is a serious financial hardship for the religious institute and it has directly affected the development of the Temple and delayed the opening of Jinyin Temple as a whole to the public.
After the fire, people from the organization learned that the Temple had imposed the sewage charge for the entire property based on the calculation method for how this property was previously used as a commercial space - a hotel. With only 9 long-term residents (5 adults, 4 children) at the Temple, the Temple’s property, a non-profit organization space, is now imposed a nearly $30,000 annual sewage fee, which is recalculated and reduced from $80,000 after 4 years. The cost is measured by the number of Equivalent Dwelling Unit - the total number of rooms, which includes the limited spaces those long-term residents are using and all the unrenovated former hotel rooms that are currently inhabitable. Instead of being calculated depending on the usage, the calculation method of cost based on the number of EDU is inappropriate for the current functions of the property and the unreasonable charge is shocking.
Besides the 2018 fire and exorbitant sewage fee, the organization encountered another serious matter. Jinyin Temple was registered as a nonprofit organization qualified for tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3). Yet, the organization has been imposed a hefty amount of tax for unified schools as well as other taxes.
Even for the two buildings which were destroyed, one dismantled in early 2018 and the former prayer hall consumed by the 2018 fire, the local government is still levying tax on the Temple for these nonexist buildings as of 2021. The tax issue has been costing the organization a lot of resources, in human, material and financial terms.
People from the organization applied for local property tax exemption but the communication process has been difficult. What is puzzling is the vastly different attitude shown by the hearing committee from that of the local residents. From the personal interactions between people from the Temple with local residents, communities, and institutions, the organization and Tangmi Buddhist community received warm and friendly welcomes. People from the Temple also actively participate in dialogues between local faith organizations and different communities to address ways to eliminate violence, hatred, fear, and discrimination between different religions, races and cultures, and to strengthen mutual understanding. The mission of Jinyin Temple is aligned with the philosophy of all participants to such exchanges. Yet, the members of the hearing committee seemed to be on a different page. The question thus arises: if the hearing committee doesn’t represent the interests and opinions of the residents, then whose interests does it represent?
Now, the property has not only been transformed from the previously abandoned wasteland into a beautiful park, temple, and home for all Sino Esoteric Buddhists, but also cultivated and will keep cultivating an environment of purposeful inclusion, respect, harmony, and boundless compassion where all sentient beings are valued, cared for, and given an opportunity to form meaningful connections with others. People from the Sino Esoteric Buddhist lineage have invested their time, effort and resources into establishing Jinyin Temple out of sincerity. The application of local tax exemption for Jinyin Temple is not merely a matter of money, it is also a matter of trust, a matter of principle, and a matter of respect.
Jinyin Temple Functional Sites
The functional site of the Temple includes buildings and outdoor spaces with multidisciplinary and multi-use spaces and special-use spaces that serve particular functions.
The Main Hall is used for praying, worship, meditative practices, sutra chanting, and Dharma assemblies. It houses three Primordial Buddhas - the original teacher Shakyamuni Buddha, Bhaiṣajyaguru or the Medicine Buddha, and Amitābha of the Pure Land, His Holiness Vajra Master Jinke Xuanlei’s altar, Solar & Lunar Radiance Altar, Maitreya Altar, Kṣitigarbha Altar, Patriarch wall of the Sino Esoteric Buddhism Jinke Lineage, and a memorial tablet section.
The Calligraphy and Painting Hall is used as an art studio.
Classrooms and office spaces are used for artistic practices, such as painting, calligraphy, ceramic & porcelain making, and for teacher training programs and translation and editorial projects.
Dorm Building is currently used by the long-term residents and selected disciples of the lineage only. It serves as the Retreat Dorm as well.
The Outdoor Meditation Park holds the Vairocana Buddha Altar, Mahāmāyūrī Vidyārājñī Altar, Bhaiṣajyaguru or the Medicine Buddha Altar, and Tangmi visualization and yoga courtyards. The World Peace Prayer Mandala is to be built in the following years on the site of the 2018 fire accident.