on August 24, 2006
The highly touted and photographed Ten Thousand Buddhas Temple is located west of the Sha Tin KCR station. Combine this visit with a walking tour of Sha Tin, mentioned in another journal entry for a complete day enjoying some of Hong Kong’s history and culture.Ten Thousand Buddhas Temple is so much more than what the name implies. I really don’t know where to begin. So, I’ll start with the path that leads there. At the end of asphalt path are hundreds of steep steps winding among the trees to the first level. Life-size statues akin to Buddha line the stairs on both sides one right after another. Not that I was getting winded—of course not—but I stopped along the way to admire the details. Completely gold, the sunlight that made in through the trees created quite a reflection. Some had facial hair, some had hoods and all had bright red lips. Each was holding something from a musical instrument to a scroll. At the top I discovered the statues were number and there were over 500.The lower floor contains pavilions, statues, arhats, temples, a pagoda, and a vegetarian restaurant. The pagoda is 9 stories, with walls of red and eaves of golden yellow. The base in lined with golden arhats and small Buddhas in different positions line the eaves. A spiral staircase inside the pagoda houses several more Buddhas. Manjusri and Samantabhadra, Buddha’s most important assistants, are displayed larger-than-life in pavilions on either side of the tower. Manjusri, known for wisdom and bravery, aptly sits on a blue lion while Samantabhadra has reasoning abilities, performs noble deed and rides on a white elephant. Both are one of the ten disciples to the founder of Buddhism placing them on a high rung of the ladder.Inside the courtyard are the 18 Arhats that were originally the perfect fulfilment of life but have given way to the higher attainment of Buddha. Although there are a few hundred Arhats, these 18 are known for special qualities and people often give offerings to them. Arhats have reached enlightenment through discipline and practice as has Budhha, but they have chosen to postpone nirvana and instead help others reach their level—a very unselfish act. In spite of this, I have always viewed the Arhats as whimsical or fairy like creatures because of the statues I have seen. Sometimes it is difficult to take a character seriously who is portrayed surfing on the head of lobster, having legs twice the length of his torso, an arm so long a right-fielder would be jealous, or having a Cheshire cat grin. I guess deities can have a sense of humor and childlike qualities just as mankind.
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