2016年2月12日 星期五

Guanyin & Arahants Just Across the Border (境外觀音羅漢)

Not so long ago, I paid a visit to one of biggest Koon Yin temple in the Tai Po area. I really didn't expect to be seeing another much biigger Koon Yin temple in such a short time. But I did. This one is located amidst a dozen huge mountains sitting high above a small town not 50 km from Shenzhen called Changmutou (樟木頭鎮), prefecture level town of with a population of under 200,000, most of whom are migrant workers from elsewhere and once called "little Hong Kong" because more than 60% of its newly built houses in the early 1990s were bought by people from Hong Kong.  It's the only mainly Hakka town under Dongguan (東莞市) just across the border.

At the entrance of the Guanyinshan National Park (觀音山森林公園) a 4A class National Park,  covering an area of some 18 square kilometers, 99% of which are covered by all kinds of trees, some of which have been there late Liang Dynasty ( 後梁)(CE 555--587) hundreds of years but the final and fairly steep slopes leading to the summit plaza where the huge Guanyin Boddhisattva (觀世菩薩) is sitting can be accessed only on foot.  According to historical records, the summit was where the  first Guanyin bodhisattva statue arrived in China in late Liang Dynasty ( 後梁)(CE 555--587) and more than 1100 years a Zen temple was built there to celebrate this event. But it has since fallen into disrepair over the years until it was recently rebuilt and turned into a national park. 

Red lanterns everywhere next to the entrance to the park

We can go up only by taking one of these electric car. At the back is the 28-meter 3-tiered main gate tower.

 Leaves in the sun

red wish ribbons were tied around many of the trees on the way up

The whole of Changmutou beneath our feet

 A huge boulder at the side of the road

The plague says: "if we are thrown to the ground, that's may be due to causes having nothing to do with the ground; likewise, if a man is dying that may be because he has exhausted his karma or it could be due to present causes which destroy his karma; hence there are those who die either before or after their allotted time. 

The way up

A spot where we could go see the giant waterfall plunging some 400 meters straight down

Not far to go now, perhaps another 15 minutes

We could see a corner of one of the pavilions up there, surrounded by trees many of which are more than 300 years old

The last leg of the steep climb

Very close now to the top

Wishes of the common people: money, good fortune, luck ...

All your wishes for just 20 Yuan RMB

This is the famous 33-meter Tang style Guanyin, completed in 2,000 and inaugurated in 9th day of the 9th lunar month 2001 ( or November 4), weighing some 3,300 ton, carved from 999 pieces of granite from Po Tin, Fujian,the largest of its kind in the world, a jeweled crown on her head, a bottle of cleansing fluid in her left hand, and the sign of the fearless diamond sutra on her right hand on a 10,000 square meter platform 488 meter above sea level. it took many master craftsman more than 3 years to carve and polish by hand! Surrounding her are the various halls viz the Hall of Great Mercy (大悲 殿), the Hall of the god of wealth (財神殿) ( a Taoist god), the Old Drum Tower (古鼓樓) and the Old Bell Tower (古鐘樓), Guanyin Hall , mountain streams, and waterfall which plunges down 380 meter down, cable cars, water park, bird paradise, memorial halls, mock Hakka Village, orchards, a convention centre, an exhibition centre. There are more than 1,000 kinds of different plants in the 26,000 hectare park area, 7 of which are on the verge of extinction including 粘木、白桂木、蘇鐵蕨、土蚕霜、金茶花、野茶樹 and wild 龍眼 and more than  300 kinds of wild birds and animals etc. 22 of which are protected, including wild boar,. muntiacus muntjak (黄猄)  and armadillos. There's also a museum of ancient trees with samples from 30 odd ancient trees including one 15 meter long  青皮樹 with a diameter of 1.6 meter, which is estimated to be more than 4,500 years old!. But we didn't have time to visit them all. 

All kinds of wishes: peace and quiet for the whole family, healthy body, wealth, career success, good mates, birth of children, longevity to parents, everything wished for, ask and it shall be given...

Drum of safety

Huge joss sticks for the Guanyin Hall

Smaller joss sticks

How peaceful she looks !

Various halls behind the Guanyin
This boy looks for good health for family and relatives, everything per plan and every wish to come true, good luck and a chance for a good mate so that he may find a girl friend and get married within the year!

This girl looks for good match, every wish to come true, good health, good luck and safety

On each side of the path to the "good match rock"(姻緣石) are lined up the 18 arhats (十八羅漢). There were only 16 at the death of the great Buddha: they are respectively: Angaja, Ajita, Vanvasin, Mahakalikia, Varriputra, Shribhadra, Kanakavatsa, Kanaka, Bukla, Rajula, Chullapanthaka, Pindola Bharadvaja, Nagasena, Gopaka and Abhedya. Arhats or Arahants are worthy persons (sonja) (尊者) who have attained nirvana and has transcended the need for punarbhava (the cycle of rebirth) (輪迴). Just before Buddha died, he urged these 16 to remain on earth to spread the Buddhist doctrine although they could have gone on to enjoy their nirvana. When the legend reached China, the Chinese added two more arhats to the list, making it 18. There is dispute as to how they came to be added. Whatever the truth may be, in China, it is customary to have 18 arhats or arahants.  The photo shows the Maitreya (彌勒尊者) one of those added by Chinese Buddhists, he is the 18th arhat/arahant, designated by Emperor Chien Lung (乾隆皇帝) in the Qing Dynasty, popularly known as 伏虎羅漢 or the "tiger taming arahant"  because according to legend, tigers were always prowling around the entrance of his residence and as he frequently offered food to them, they eventually  became as tame as domestic cats. 

This is Kasypa 迦葉尊者, the 17th arhat, also designated as such by Emperor Chien Lung. According to another legend, this is 慶友尊者, who subdued the sea dragon god who flooded a temple containing some Buddhist sutras of in the Indian kingdom of Nagarahara (那竭國) and recovered possesion of the sutras.He is regarded as the author of 大阿羅漢難提密多羅所說法住記. He holds a dragon in his right hand. Hence he's called "(降龍羅漢)

This is Bhadra arahant who crossed the Indian ocean to preach Buddhism to East and Central Java. Nowadays, part of Indonesia is still Buddhist, including the famous holiday resort Bali. Hence he's called the "ocean crossing arahant" (過江羅漢).


This is Kanaka-bharadvaja who preached to his benefactors before or after he accepted their food with his alms bowl. Hence he's called the "Alms bowl holding arahant" (舉缽羅漢)

This is Svaka, who used to a prince designated by the king to be his successor as a result of which his younger brother started a rebellion whereupon he told him that the latter could take his place because he'd rather be a monk. At first, his brother did not believe in him when he told him that he had nothing but the Buddha in his heart. But upon showing his brother his breast, his brother saw an image of the Buddha there and thereupon stopped his rebellion and he became a monk without the slightest care for politics.  Hence he's called the "happy arahant" (開心羅漢)

This is Vajra-putra, who used to be a hunter but he forsook hunting and vowed never to kill and always carries lion pubs with him. Hence he's called the "laughing lion arahant" (笑獅羅漢)

This is Rahula ,( 羅怙羅尊者) a mighty ex-warrior who specializes on meditation called the "meditating arahant" (沉思羅漢).

This is Vanavasin who experienced heavy rain when he was born and was thus named "rain" and when he grew up, he became a monk always preferring to do his meditation under banana trees. Hence he's called "the banana arahant" (芭蕉羅漢)

This is Angata, an arahant who used to be a snake catcher. He would catch venomous snakes, remove their fangs,and then put them in his sack and would later return them to Nature. He is happy to be always helping others. Hence he's called "the sack carrying arahant""(布袋羅漢)

This is Nagasena, who refused to listen to any gossip and concentrated wholly on listening only to the Buddha. Hence he's called "ear-clearing arahant"(挖耳羅漢)

This is Cūdapanthaka, a very faithful follower of Buddha and always sought to protect his master who was given a rod with bells on top by the Buddha so that he needed not knock on the door of those would be prepared to entertain passing monks because when the inmates heard the sound of his bells, they would know he's at their door looking for alms. Hence he's called the "gate keeping arahant" (看門羅漢).  

This is Bindora Baradāja sonja, who used to be in the army and after he became a monk, he once rode a deer into a palace to urge a king to follow Buddhist way and succeeded in making the prince a Buddhist monk.  Hence he's called the "deer-riding arahant" (坐鹿羅漢). 

This is Panthaka arahant, who is said to be always relaxed and whenever he completed a session of meditation, he would stretch his arm and give a long sigh to relax. Hence he's popularly known as the "arm stretching arahant". (探手羅漢

This is Kanaka-vatsa who used to be a keen sophisticated debater. Legend has it that when asked "what is pleasure?", he said that it was a pleasant sensation derived from our sight, our hearing, our smell, our taste and our touch and when asked "what is joy", he replied that it was not pleasure derived from sight, hearing, smell, taste or touch but devotion to Buddhism". Hence he is called the "joyful arahant"(歡喜羅漢)

This is Karika, an arhat who used to be an elephant trainer, to symbolize the power and endurance of the elephant. Hence he's popularly called the "elephant riding arahant" (騎象羅漢

This is Suvinda, Buddha's last disciple who missed the passing away of the Buddha. To remember his master, he always carries an urn containing some of the remains of the ashes of Buddha with him. Hence his name 托塔羅漢. or the "urn carrying arahant".

This is Ajita. whom legend says was an unsucccesful monk in his previous life but died without having attained nirvana so that when he was reborn, he was reborn with two long eyebrow and when someone told his father that the Buddha also had two long eyebrow, he sent him into a Buddhist monastery and there attained buddhahood. Hence he's popularly known as the "long eyebrow Arahant" ( 長眉羅漢).

Before we're through the path, another tree thick with wishes

Probably tempted by the proclamation that the Buddha will guarantee a safe passage through life?

This is the ultimate attraction for those looking for soul mates

Their common intention to be locked heart to heart

Another wall of wishes

Hopes dangling in the air


Another corner of the summit plaza

An altar for joss sticks

The air thick with smoke

lighting joss sticks with full fervor

A pool at another corner of the plaza

filled with golden and red carps

The Hall of Great Mercy

The Bodhisattva with a thousand arms. She probably needs it because people wishes and desires seem so insatiable.

A final look before getting downhill

a mini-post office inside the park

Looking back up at the pavilions

Not very many people coming down

a plan of the rebuilt park edifices

dream food for the stomach, not the heart

a family sharing a quickie meal

a few flowers on the way down

quite a sheer rock face

a reservoir at the foothills

a sharp corner

stools for tired feet

plum flowers

Steep stairs up for the undaunted

For those who care about where they are going

finally down again

fire crackers for those who enjoy loud bangs

Quite a selection from small ones to mega-crackers

But first something to wet our parched lips

The boss of our travel agency telling us how sweet they are because she tasted it first

the last sunset of the year of the goat

hotel decorations

artificial tress and fake gifts

The orchids look a bit stiff

our dining room

Chinese dolls

huge jade carving

Imagine that, a kissing competition in the PRC!

 A giant fountain right in the middle of the reception hall