Tag Archives: Buddha

Wuxi – Lingshan Buddhist Scenic Area

lingshandafoAs most of you know, Mike received his license last year and has been driving around town for months now. All the driving has developed a large amount of courage in his ability to drive beyond Suzhou. Already having drove to a nearby city of Changshu, Mike was ready to travel farther.

I had found an article in an Expat magazine about a Buddhist-styled theme park north in Wuxi. Since it touts as having one of the tallest Sakyamunis in the world, we just had to go. Located in the Maji Mountain area, the park was nicely thoughtout with the tallest mountain behind the Grand Buddha, hills on the side with the view of Lake Tai (where the gardens in Suzhou attained their rocks-you have seen them in past garden posts). The Buddha was erected near the 1000 year old temple of Xiangfu, where many come during the Spring Festival to hear its bell rings for luck in the following year. The Buddha (Da Fo) is made of tin and copper and weighs over 700 tons. Standing over 100 feet taller than our own Statue of Liberty, this Buddha leaves an impression. On its left hand is the symbol called “Shi Wu Wei” with its intent to reduce suffering in the world, the right hand has the “Yu Yuan” symbol for happiness and the chest has the ancient symbol of solemnity and virtue.

Interestingly, this place was built by Japanese investors in 1997. In the recent years, the overdone, elaborate palace was built. We were in shock as we cruised through it. It was way beyond anything enlightened, i.e. humble, mild and meek. It was over-the-top; beautiful & tacky. We spent most of the day here. Mike only took one wrong turn, that paid off for us… we found all the strawberry farmers. They were super sweet and juicy. We ate one large bowl on the way there and purchased three more on the way home. Yummy!


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Beijing – Lama Temple and Temple of Heaven

lama_temple

The Lama Temple

Unfortunately, this day was not an ideal day for us. Zachary became really sick through the night and could not sight see on this day. So Mike decided to stay with him, as he talked me into taking Briana and Nathan out for the day. I only went because I really wanted to see the Tibetan Lama Temple and Nathan wanted to see the Temple of Heaven. It was a lot but we did manage to see both. By far, the Lama Temple is my most favorite temple of all I have seen in China. Loved it there.

The Lama Temple, known as Yonghegong, is the most frequented religious place in all of China. It is comprised of five main halls and many galleries and is dedicated to the Yellow Sect of Buddhism. The temple was originally built in 1694 as Prince Yong’s palace. Once he become emperor, he renounced his residence. It was later converted to a lama temple in 1744 under Emperor Qianlong. It’s a very active temple with believers lighting armloads of incenses at each hall. At times, we had to make sure our coats and Briana’s long hair did not catch on fire because of all the incense lit. In the main temple, is the biggest Buddha carved from a single tree. It’s three stories tall and nine feet in diameter.

After a nice visit at the Lama Temple, we quickly found a bus and took it to the Temple of Heaven, which is located southeast of Tianenman Square. It’s architecture is seen as the pinnacle of the Ming dynasty. The temple was constructed in 1420 under Emperor Yongle. Heaven was thought to be round and the earth square. As the Son of Heaven, the emperor was the primary medium between heaven and earth. Three days before the winter solstice, the emperor would abstain from meat, “stimulating foods’ and spices. On the third day, he would travel from the Forbidden City to the Temple of Heaven’s Fasting Palace. During the procession, all commoners retreated indoors to avoid laying eyes on the emperor–a crime which carried a death penalty. The following day, the emperor would move to the Imperial Vault of Heaven to mediate before continuing to the grand domed Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and then emerge to ritually sacrifice animals at the Round Altar and pray for a good harvest in the coming year. The temple was not open to public until the first Chinese National Day in October 1912.

Most say this is the best garden of all China. The architecture is definitely impressive, but the grounds left little to be desired. With the overrun of people, most of the ground was just dirt and the massive amount of concrete didn’t make it feel like a garden. Add all the people in the mix and Briana, Nathan and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.


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Sichuan Province – LeShan and the Giant Buddha

LeShan

Dafo

Today was the day I was looking so forward to. After researching the Sichuan Province, the Giant Buddha was what I wanted to see the most. As you can see from the photos, our hotel bed, made up of twin beds, was small and comical. It was also a rainy, gray day.

Once we reached LeShan, we walked through an open food market. I have to share about how nervous the kids and I were to walk through the meat section. Since we were offered dog as a choice meat to eat at last night’s dinner, very “sweet” meat they told us, we were so afraid to see a hanging butchered dog or even cages of bunnies for meat. Luckily, we didn’t see either. Thank goodness. The meat was just fish, frogs, pork, chicken and duck. The meat didn’t even have an odor. You could tell it was all freshly butchered that morning. I have a few photos of the market and the people.

The Giant Buddha, called Dafo, is carved into the red sandstone face of the Lingyun Hill overlooking the treacherous gorge of the Min, Dadu and Qingyi rivers below. In 713AD a monk, Haitong, felt to safeguard passing of boats a protective icon was needed in the cliffs. By the time the buddha was carved, the debris changed the gorge forever and made it safe for boats to pass. Haitong lived in a cave behind the Dafo’s head and when the local officials threatened to blind him if he didn’t take a cut in funding, the monk gouged his own eyes out to prove his dedication to the work of the Dafo. The statue was completed after his death in 803AD and only due to funds donated by the regional governor, Wei Gao. He donated his own salary to finish the legs and feet.

Some statistics on the statue are:

  • He’s 230 feet tall (taller than the statue of liberty without her pedestal)
  • His feet are 26ft long
  • Each ear droops 23ft
  • His shoulders span 92ft
  • His nose measures 18ft
  • Guardian figures flanking each side of the Dafo

Since time was short for us to visit the site, we chose to view the buddha from the river, instead of walking down to stand directly in front of him. We were told the river boat would take only 45 minutes compared to three hours walking up and down the staircase you can see in the photos. Plus, we were told the best view was from the boat. We can say it was impressive at a distance from the boat and the amount of people on the staircase proved we chose wisely.

We ending up having an extra hour and a half, so our driver recommended a museum in LeShan that has, Ebony, an extinct tree that is mined and carved into intricate designs. Much of museum, photos were not allowed. A few times, the patrol man following us, let me take a few photos. Stinkers! It was odd to be monitored as we looked. The carvings were detailed, unique and each told a story. They were well thought out.


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