Monday, September 2, 2019

Taiwan Trip Day 9 - Kaohsiung (高雄) | Fo Guang Shan (佛光山)

9 December 2018

Day 9 into our 2 weeks Taiwan Family Travel Trip. From Tainan, we set off to Kaoshiung (高雄). Our first stop of the day is visiting Taiwan's largest Buddhist Temple - Fo Guang Shan (佛光山). Located in Dashu District in Kaohsiung City, it is about 1 hour drive from Tainan.

Fo Guang Shan (高雄佛光山) - founded by Venerable Master Hsing Yun who advocated 'Humanistic Buddhism', hoping to bring peace and love to the real world. This differs from the traditional Buddhism,  as it focus on the current living in the world than after life. To glorify the Dharma, together with his following monks, they build the monastery from 1967.

In 1997, Master Hsing Yun decided to close the mountain gates of Fo Guang Shan to the general public to create a more cloistered atmosphere for the practicing monks. Parts of the Monastery were then reopened in 2000 providing the public a place to practice Pure Land Buddhism.

Covering about 100 hectares, you probably really need half or full day to have a good look at the temple.

10am - We arrived at Fo Guang Shan. The Front Hall itself already look majestic!

Family photo in front of the Front Hall. Prior to entering, take note of two statues at the sides. On the right side is an adult white elephant leading a herd of smaller elephants while the left side is a lion surrounded by its cubs. The elephant represents noble dignity as the Buddha rode a white elephant into his mother's womb, thus commemorate the Buddha's birthday that he descended into the human world. Lion is the king of beasts and it is a metaphor for the Buddha's fearlessness and majesty.

Posing with the white elephants

Within the Reverence Hall (礼敬大厅). You can find information desk providing general information, exhibition details, guided tour service and maps. There are gift shops, souvenir stores and vegetarian restaurants. Here you can also find the only vegetarian Starbucks in the world. Alternatively, you can also go for an affordable vegetarian buffet meal at level 2.

You can find Venerable Master Hsing Yun's calligraphy works at the gift shop and within the Eight Pagodas. Venerable Master Hsing Yun's eyesight deteriorated due to his diabetic condition which was diagnosed over 40 years ago. Barely able to see, each of his calligraphy works is completed in one stroke, for if he stopped, he would not be able to position his next stroke. Thus giving his work its name, 'One-Stroke Calligraphy' (一笔字). This is also similar to the way he handles things in life, to move forward courageously, without any hesitation.

Say Good Words (说好话), Do Good Deeds (做好事),  Think Good Thoughts (存好心)

Venerable Master Hsing Yun has always advocated for mutual respect and undersetanding between the religions; by working together, the religions can establish world peace, ethnic harmony, and promote the general welfare of all - Love in the Human World; World Peace & Harmony (人间友爱, 世界和平)

The area is too HUGE to cover and we can only move forward towards Fo Guang Shan Memorial Center. Prior to that, we have to walk pass the Eight Pagodas, each standing at 38 meters high,  which are on both sides of the Great Path to Buddhahood. Along the route, we found many interesting and meaningful teachings on the walls.

Stepping into the main hall of the Memorial Center. Generally it consists of three floors with many exhibits related to Buddhism and the Buddha's teachings. We could really get lost here! As photography and videography is prohibited, we were not able to share what we saw within the various shrines within. All I could say it is very solemn and the buddha statues are amazing! I was most fascinated in the Jade Buddha Shrine where the reclining Buddha was carved out of a precious white jade from Burma. The treasured Buddha's tooth relic is also enshrined within and it is one of the three in the world. 

After praying and visiting the shrines, we moved up to the Big Buddha Terrace. This is where you can get closest to Fo Guang Big Buddha. Weighing at about 1,800 ton, and standing at 48 meters tall, the head of the statue alone is three stories high!

Do not just stop at admiring the Big Buddha. Take a walk around and you will find The Four Noble Truth Stupas in correlation with the spirits of the Four Great Bodhisattvas - Great Compassion by Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Great Vow by Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, Great Wisdom by Manjusri Bodhisattva, and Great Practice by Samantabhadra Bodhisattva.

Stupa of Wisdom

Stupa of Practice

From the top, you get a majestic view of Fo Guang Shan. This is how far we have walked from the Front Hall (at the very end) via the Eight Pagodas to Fo Guang Shan Memorial Center!

For a brief moment, it almost felt like I was standing on a palace ground.

View of the Eight Pagodas ahead

Looking back at the Big Buddha. So near yet so far...

Jump shot at the Great Path to Buddhahood

This is how far we have walked.

Back to where we started.

We actually spent about 2 hours at Fo Guang Shan - which is not even enough to cover most of what there is to see there. Taking into account we did not spend much time at the Front Hall to check out the shops, missing many exhibits, skipping the Eight Pagodas, Tea Houses and also the outskirt of the Monastery. You definitely need at least half a day to a full day to really appreciate and immerse in the tranquility of Fo Guang Shan, learn more about its history and also the teachings of Buddhism.

Fo Guang Shan (高雄佛光山)
Address: No.153, Xingtian Rd., Dashu Dist., Kaohsiung City 840, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Part 2 of Day 9 on our next post.

More photos at BPDGTravels Facebook Page
Check out our 2 Weeks Taiwan Itinerary Family Trip here

No comments:

Post a Comment