Friday, April 27, 2012

Houston Buddhist Vihara

This is one in a series of "Profile" posts in which different local Buddhist groups and Temples will be described so that seekers will understand fully in advance what to expect should they decide to visit.

POST UPDATE:  July 6, 2013.  In May 2013, I received an email from Bandula Jayatilaka, who indicated that the Vihara is now hosting a short meditation and discussion session in English every Friday starting at 7:30 p.m.  The Vihara's website has not yet been updated. 

As of January 2012, Houston Buddhist Vihara was open to Buddhist followers from all ethnic groups, but there were no English language programs offered, and no English-speaking Bikkhus (monks) in residence.

Regrettably, this is not the impression that seekers will currently get from the internet:
Using the generic unquotemarked phrase 'Houston Buddhist' results in the Vihara's website ranking at or near the very top of the search results.
The Vihara's English-language website is among the most sophisticated and beautiful of local designs.
Screengrab from:
Furthermore, the website makes explicit reference to English language programs.  However, note the date at the bottom of each webpage.  As of today, that date was listed as 2006 - six years old.
Yesterday I described a case in which an English-speaking member of the convert community attempted to participate in a different local Temple and failed to find any English Dharma presentations on two successive visits.   

I had the same experience with Houston Buddhist Vihara.  After reading and being impressed by their well-designed webpages, I stopped by several times during 2011, and could not find any English-speaking members, residents, or program references.  I wasn't sure whether this result was due to my own misunderstanding of their current schedule, or because the Vihara had changed significantly relative to its own web descriptions.  I was able to resolve the issue about two months ago by tracking down a Bikkhu previously associated with this Vihara - Basnagoda Rahula.  Bhante Rahula has ties to our area, having graduated from the University of Houston Clear Lake (in fact, he launched one of his books there a few years ago).  In an email to me, he confirmed that the Vihara currently has no English Sangha programs.

As always, if you have updates or new information to contribute regarding this Temple, please contact me at

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