Place of Peace

Furman Reflective Walk

Place of Peace

Greenville, South Carolina 29617, United States

Created By: The Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection, Furman University


The Place of Peace complements the Asian garden, which is located directly opposite it. If you cross the road from the garden, you stand at the foot of the path that leads up to the temple, which is the focal point of this area. The plaque here honors the Tsuzuki family who donated what was formerly their family temple in Nagoya, Japan to Furman University. This temple, known in Japan as Hei-Sei-Ji, was originally constructed in 1984. It was dismantled into more than 2,400 pieces in 2004 and transported through the Panama Canal to Furman where it was reconstructed by Japanese craftsmen on the current site in 2008. It now serves as a centerpiece for the university’s commitment to international education, sustainability, and the development of the whole person. The temple in this beautiful setting is designed to facilitate reflection, deep calmness, and connection to nature. [1]

Your meditation here begins with the walk up the gravel path from the plaque to the temple. The sound of your footsteps on the small gravel covering the path can awaken your senses to the beauty of the natural surroundings. This path is punctuated intermittently by several large stone steps. Each of these briefly interrupts your progress and creates a moment for you to pause reflectively and feel your connection with the surroundings. At the end of the path is a large, flat stone that forms a natural platform, one which puts you opposite the entrance to the temple. Steps take you from there up to a second short walkway of granite stones leading to the steps of the temple. To the left of this walkway is a water basin called a chozubachi. The chozubachi is an integral part of Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan, and is a natural accompaniment to the Buddhist temple. Shinto celebrates our connection with nature and the living spirits that animate us, the surrounding trees and plants, and even the rocks. The bamboo spout above the basin provides the water used for symbolic purification before entering the temple. In classes that meditate in the temple, students are encouraged to put a hand under the running water as a simple ritual that encourages them to have a beginner’s mind, prepared to be fully aware of the present moment during their meditation.

If you are fortunate to be at the temple when it is open to the public, you can ascend the stairs to it, remove your shoes, place them in one of the shoe racks provided at the entrance, and go inside. If it is closed during your visit, you may wonder what’s inside. The answer is essentially nothing but the traditional cushions to sit on for meditation. It is a place to sit with your own thoughts, to let your mind gradually become more and more calm, and to feel your deep connection with others and with nature. As you prepare to leave the temple, stand at the steps and look back toward the Asian Garden. From these steps your eyes will follow what can be described as a Ki-line that forms a living connection between the altar of the temple and the waterfall in the garden.

The meditative experience at The Place of Peace is one in which we are encouraged to interrupt the busy-ness that characterizes our lives and thoughts, to pause and reflect on our surroundings, and to gradually but surely let our awareness be fully present to what is before us, around us, and inside us.

Questions for Reflection:

  • What activities and involvements prevent you from being as aware as you can to those around you, to nature, and to yourself?

  • What features of The Place of Peace have you found helpful in creating a feeling of calmness and connection with nature?

  • What experiences in your life allow you to feel deeply calm and connected with others and with nature?

Contributor Statement:

Dr. Mark Stone has taught in the philosophy department at Furman University for the past 23 years. His class Realizing Bodymind, which introduces students to Asian philosophy, meditation, and the martial art of Ki Aikido, meets once a week for meditation in the Place of Peace. He also leads a weekly meditation session at the Place of Peace for the Furman and Greenville community.


[1] These facts are drawn from the pamphlet about The Place of Peace prepared by the Asian Studies Department.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Furman Reflective Walk


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