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.
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.
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.
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 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.