Posts Tagged With: Buddhism

LITTLE WILDGOOSE PAGODA

 

Before leaving Xian for our flight to our next destination at Chonquin, we walked up the 100 steps to the top of this old city wall. This preserved section of the wall has wonderful views of the modern city in a very affluent section of Xian.

 

This view of  the street below is curious for how little traffic you see.  Budding new capitalists in China now want to own their own car, but they have yet to find out about  real traffic jambs.

It is a city in transition, with bikes and rickshaws mingling with autos.

 

On top of the wall, are  businesses, not yet open as we arrive early in the morning. We walk  and take in the view.

These very modern apartments have few cars parked outside.

An old walled enclosure now serves as a parking lot. In America it would be jammed full.

If you build a gate, why not make it beautiful?  We spend an hour on the wall before moving on to the Little Wildgoose Pagoda which is an old Tang Dynasty Temple with a huge city bell.

The grounds here resemble the Temple Of Heaven. It is the gathering place for exercise that all Chinese do each morning.

Chinese people do not have meetings in their small homes. They have a meeting and take care of business at the Temple or Park.

Tai Chi with swords.

These stone posts are left over from the old days when people tied up their horse or donkey to visit the temple.

The Little Wildgoose Pagoda is named for the wild goose because a starving monk, (monks cannot ask anyone for food,) was hoping to find some meat when a wild goose flew into the pagoda and couldn’t get out. It died, (they don’t kill), and he ate it and named it the Wildgoose Pagoda. Pagodas were used for the monks to study. Buddhism was brought to this particular Pagoda by a monk who walked the scrolls from India to China.

On the grounds is a famous bell. All of our big strong guys tried to ring it and could not. It takes about ten men to ring the bell as a way to warn the city that invaders were coming. It is hard to ring deliberately so naughty boys would not ring and run, it is speculated.  The Temple grounds had numerous craftsmen with shops, paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, glass, etc.  It is a lovely, serene place in the morning.

In the afternoon, we packed our suitcases and then visited a Jade Factory.  I couldn’t help but notice the poor working environment provided for their craftsmen.

The work they turn precious, works of art.

Factory visits on tours are designed to expose you to a quiet shopping environment of China’s best crafts.  We visited a pearl factory, rugs, and now jade. They are also expensive places to shop, and interesting.

Our final dinner before our flight was a special 23 dumpling dinner, traditional food for the area. Normally the huge center turntable is filled with individual dishes. In this case, a waiter dished out the dumplings, helping after helping in the little glass bowls. It was superb.

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TANG DYNASTY TEMPLE OF HELL.

The second phase of our trip to China in October of 2006 began with an early morning flight to the industrial city of Chong Quing.  We walked from the landing (visible in the distance) across this pontoon bridge, settled our luggage aboard and then walked back across the pontoons to visit the Hell Pagoda from the Tang Dynasty.

First we climbed 200 stairs up the side of a mountain. The view of our landing below in the misty rain was exhilarating after our breathless climb. .

As we neared the temple, tortured statues lined the steps.

There was about  30 of them and their meaning was unclear.

Our guide explained that this old Tang Temple is backwards from normal for modern Chinese. Almost like Christianity, you suffer for bad behavior and are re-incarnated to a higher plane for good behavior.  On our bridge to the temple grounds above, one side is for women, the other for men, unusual.

Even the colors here are different, blue and gold instead of the preferred and popular red and gold. The roof is guarded by a dragon, though.

The main pagoda has a wild geese  for the roof  decoration, in remembrance of the hungry monk at the Little Wildgoose Pagoda.   A couple of smaller pagodas had dragons.

Mark Maurur from our group tried balancing the Xing Chen Stone. The bottom stone weighs about 200 pounds, the top stone about 90 pounds. If you are able to balance it, it will cure you of heart problems the legend claims.

Mark  succeeded, but no one else attempted. I guess they weren’t worried about heart problems. The cure legend is unclear. Does it cure heart disease?  Or the misery of lost love?

All of us attempted the balancing ball. A perfectly round ball on a perfectly flat surface. If you can maintain balance for nine seconds, you will have a long life. I guess we are all destined to die young.

In  the Hell Temple, you come across  things that are twisted and not uniform so different from the ying and yang of balance in Chinese culture.

In the temple dungeon was a ghastly parade of fearful statues behind bars, a warning to behave or else. The Tang Dynasty incorporated fear in their religion to elicit good behaviors, as most religions do. Modern Buddhism encourages good deeds while reminding you of your human weaknesses, rather than fear of punishment, if I understand it correctly.

On the way back down the hill, I was tempted to give this young child a pat.  It was the only friendly looking statue in the bunch.

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