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Published: April 17th 2011
Yesterday I returned to the Taoist temple for a third time. It seems every time I go is more amazing than the last. We, myself and a few of my classmates, arrived just in time to see the monks performing a ceremony that included chanting, bells, and drums. It was really special and quite a treat. We were also greeted by two of the most incredible butterflies I have ever seen. The atmosphere and energy of the whole place is so calming and peaceful that immediately upon entering, the craziness of the city outside disappears and a sense of tranquility washes over me. After giving thanks by lighting some incense, we moved over to the Tea House. It is a place I could easily spend an entire day, drinking tea and breathing deep, letting the crazy world outside pass slowly out of mind. After some time at the Tea House, we moved on to find a group of people young and old practicing Tai Chi in what I call the Yin Yang square. It was fantastic. It is hard to put into words the beauty and feeling in this temple, but perhaps the pictures will convey some of what I have
After a day like the one we had at the temple, it was hard to imagine anything better, but today presented even more spectacular treats. We awoke early and boarded the “Golden Dragon” for a 2 hour bus ride South to go out to Leshan and see the Giant Buddha. By giant, I mean the largest stone carved sitting Buddha in the world! Think Mount Rushmore, but with a Buddha. Once again, entering into the temple grounds brought a wave of peace and relaxation immediately over me. Around every corner was something incredible to see, weather a carving in the wall, or a fountain, or statue. The time, effort, and energy that went into creating each of these spectacular places must have been immense, and it was almost tangible. After winding our way up through a beautiful mountain stairway, we reached the top of the temple, and the top of the Buddha. I was struck by the fact that there was a line of hundreds of people waiting to wind down the mountain to see the Giant Buddha. One would think we were in line for a ride at Disneyland, and once again me and my western friends
were at times the focus of pictures and videos of the local tourists. I am beginning to understand what life for a celebrity must be like, and I can see why it would be so difficult to go out and enjoy day to day life without being bothered to be in pictures and sign autographs. Fortunately no one has asked for autographs, only pictures. After winding back and forth in the line for almost 2 hours, slowly heading down the side of the mountain, we finally caught our first true glimpse of the Buddha, and it did not disappoint. Massive, is an understatement. I felt so small in comparison to this giant mountain Buddha, a beacon of peace and tranquility towering over the crowd below it. I paid my respects with some incense, gave thanks to the divine within all of us, and moved on to see what else this amazing mountain had in store. We slowly climbed back up the mountain and along the way I got a chance to visit some of the caves where monks had spent years in retreat and meditation. I only wish I could have made the rest of the crowd disappear, to get
My Taoist Brother
If only we could speak . . .
a sense of what it truly must have been like to sit in peace and silence in this epic mountain retreat, and cultivate inner calm and tranquility. In a sense it was sad to think that because this Buddha and the mountain temple is now a Unesco world heritage sight, the very monks who built it would no longer be able to enjoy it in the way it was designed. So it goes for many of the worlds ancient sacred sites, but such is the coast of maintaining these places for future generations. I continued along the beautiful mountain paths enjoying the serenity of my surroundings, absorbing as much as I could, only to be stopped occasionally by a tap on the shoulder or a squeeze of the hand from a shy, giggly local asking for a picture with the bearded westerner. For those of you reading this who often suggest I cut my beard ( you know who you are), if you could see the joy it was bringing to those around me, you might reconsider your request. And so, as all things do, my time on the mountain came to an end and I returned to the bus,
and with it the hustle and bustle of the modern world. My journey to the Mountain Buddha will be in my heart forever, and the juxtaposition of the ancient world of spirit with the modern world of progress will remind me always of the balance we need to achieve in order for each of us an individuals, and as a united human race, to truly be in peace.
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