Franklin Buddhist monastery seeks expansion approval

By Walter O'Brien,, December 16, 2012

FRANKLIN, NJ (USA) -- A Buddhist monastery has applied to the township for permission to expand its buildings to bring its worshippers more programs.

<< Artist's conception of the proposed new temple. NJ Buddhist Vihara 

The New Jersey Buddhist Vihara and Meditation Center at 4299 Route 27 is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 17 to come before the Franklin Township Zoning Board of Adjustment at 475 DeMott Lane in Somerset to present its application for a new three-story worship building on its property. The public hearing was originally scheduled for Dec. 6.

Vihara is a Sanskrit term for an early type of Buddhist monastery which originally meant "a secluded place in which to walk", constructed to shelter monks during the rainy season, according to Encyclopædia Britannica.

The center, established in 2003 on almost 10 acres of wooded land, features a 30-foot-tall statue of the Buddha which is the largest in the Western hemisphere, according to the center's website.

Since the unveiling of the statue in 2009, the center has become a landmark attracting a steady stream of visitors throughout the year for the the practice of Buddhism & meditation, according to the center.

The new 11,000 square-foot temple, which will eventually replace the existing 1,500-square-foot house, will house a library, meditation room, areas for community gatherings, a school for children and living facilities for clergy, as well as a meditation trail through the woods.

The estimated project costs for plans, infrastructure, building and landscaping is expected to reach approximately $2.3 million, all of which is to be raised by donations.

The Vihara has met on several occasions with township engineering committee, and first applied to the board for the proposed expansion in early September, Carol Kuehn, secretary for the fundraising committee, said.

Once the Vihara's application is approved by the township, groundbreaking should take place within a few months, with initial construction focusing on the new building and parking lot expansion, Kuehn said. The goal is to complete the project within a year but the speed of construction depends on the results of fundraising efforts, she said.

Kuehn said that once construction is completed, the Vihara will be able to expand its offerings of mediation, social, educational and religious programs to the community and to open its current offerings to a greater number of people. She said that the Vihara's neighbors and the community have been very supportive of their plans.

"The Vihara’s mission is to offer guidance and moral support to the community and members," Kuehn said. "As a member of the Franklin Township Interfaith Council, the Vihara would also be able to host interfaith programs."

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: