Houston, one of the largest and fastest-growing cities in the United States, is home to a diverse Buddhist community of Asian immigrants and Western converts. The dynamic exchange between these groups has resulted in the establishment of numerous Buddhist practice places throughout the city and surrounding areas.
Buddhist travelers in Houston can start by exploring the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park, which includes a traditional teahouse as well as stone paths that meander among Japanese maples, azaleas, and cherry trees. From there, take a short walk along oak-lined avenues to Asia Society Texas Center, which regularly hosts mindfulness classes and art exhibits. Continue your journey by visiting the Buddhist centers in the Montrose and Houston Heights neighborhoods, then venture outside the loop to explore the various temples in the city’s thriving Asian neighborhoods.
1. | Japanese Garden, Hermann Park Conservancy
Find an oasis of calm in this frequently visited and newly renovated park in the Houston Museum District. The sprawling five-acre sanctuary includes a traditional Japanese teahouse, gardens, and seating areas—plenty of room for reflection on your Houston visit.
6000 Fannin Street
2. | Asia Society Texas Center
Designed by the renowned Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, this 40,000-square-foot center includes a performance space, a cafe, and several galleries with a robust schedule of rotating art exhibits and community programs. This is also the home of Insight Meditation Houston, which offers weekly meditation sessions and dharma talks led by Ginger Clarkson, who trained at California’s Spirit Rock Meditation Center.
3. | Myoken–Ji, Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Texas
Close to the University of Houston, Myoken-Ji is home to the Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Texas, led by Myokei Caine-Barrett, Shonin, the first woman and Westerner to lead the Nichiren Shu Order of North America as bishop. The temple offers regular sutra study classes and weekly services for chanting, including portions of the Lotus Sutra and its title, “Namu-myoho-renge-kyo.”
4360 Graduate Circle
4. | Zhong Yue Shaolin Temple
Take a side trip south of downtown to Houston’s thriving Chinatown neighborhood on Bellaire Boulevard and visit the Zhong Yue Shaolin Temple. After touring the grounds, you can engage in moving meditation by taking a class in taijiquan (t’ai chi) taught by Grand Master Shi De Shan, a 31st-generation Shaolin monk.
6707 Wilcrest Drive
5. | Jade Buddha Temple
The Texas Buddhist Association has played a significant role in Houston’s Buddhist community since it was founded in 1979, and its Jade Buddha Temple has provided refuge for many spiritual seekers. Guided by Venerable Wing Sing, Venerable Jan Hai, and Venerable Hung-I, this nonsectarian Chinese temple provides classes, chanting services (with the Bodhi Choir), youth groups, dharma talks in Chinese and English, and lessons in Chinese language and culture.
When Hurricane Harvey hit the area in 2017, the temple temporarily housed families whose homes were flooded or destroyed in the Category 4 storm. (The temple has suspended activities through September 6, so check its website for updates.)
6969 Westbranch Drive
6. | Dawn Mountain Center for Tibetan Buddhism
Anne Klein (Lama Rigzin Drolma), a religious studies professor at Rice University, and her husband, Harvey Aronson (Lama Namgyal Dorje), a psychotherapist and Buddhist scholar and teacher, founded this Tibetan Buddhist center in 1996. Of special interest are the “Teaching Tuesdays” dharma classes—taught by Klein and Aronson on the first and third Tuesdays of every month—and retreats led by resident and visiting teachers. Dawn Mountain’s Research Institute has also translated and published important Nyingma lineage texts since 1994.
8100 Greenbriar Drive, Suite 300
7. | Water Drop Tea House
A short drive from downtown Houston brings you to the suburban neighborhood of Stafford, where you can stop by the Chung Mei Buddhist Temple and Water Drop Tea House, a vegetarian spot that serves noodles, fried rice, soups, and specialty teas. Chung Mei is associated with Venerable Master Hsing Yun, a Chinese Buddhist monk who founded the worldwide sangha Fo Guang Shan, and the temple complex also includes a Buddhist library with over 1,000 volumes and a statue garden. (The tea house is currently closed and will announce on their website in the coming months when they plan to reopen.)
12550 Jebbia Lane
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