Guang Jue Monastery: Part 3 - Reflection

08:02 Paul Robinson 1 Comments

On my second full day at the temple, I got to see a different side of Monastic life. The teacher, two students and I set off to Tianmushan, to visit the Buddhist Monastery there. The Chan Buddhist Monastery was apparently the first Monastery in China to export Buddhism to Japan.

We arrived at the temple to find a new five star hotel being built directly next to the temple. Whilst hardly authentic, I guess the temple has to make an income somehow. As we walked through the spectacular temple halls, it became apparent that all the temple structures were all either new builds or recent renovations. A local company has agreed to rebuild the temple and in-turn it is allowed to construct the hotel in the grounds. The teacher then guided us to the gift shop, where he spent about an hour browsing the books. I guess gift shops have something for everyone.

We were then given lunch and a tour of the crematorium/pagoda, local forest and a plush Government retreat. We walked through a room full of safety deposit boxes which housed the ashes of the deceased. We were even handed a marketing brochure, which was just surreal. As the tour continued, the teacher began treating us to impersonations and a series of funny faces. I think he was enjoying being out and about. He sort of reminded me of my Granddad – chatting strangers’ ears off and wandering off through doorways he clearly shouldn’t be going through.

It was interesting to see a commercial temple, but it wasn’t why I had travelled so far. Back at the Guang Jue Monastery, over dinner, everyone agreed that they weren’t fans of the commercial temple either.
Popo, the Guang Jue Monastery cook, is an old Chinese lady who speaks an unfathomable dialect. Even Chinese students struggle to understand her. She pronounces ‘wanshang’ (evening) and ‘weezen’ – I didn’t stand a chance. She also hated to see food go to waste. If your bowl still had a few grains of rice left over, you would get an earful. You can’t understand a word she says but you know she isn’t happy. It’s safe to say I’ve still got a lot of room for improving my Chinese.

All too soon it was time for me to leave the temple and return to civilisation. After spending three nights there and meeting several different students, I can see that the temple is doing a lot of good. I have decided to read more about Buddhism and try to incorporate some its teachings into my life. Buddhism encourages you to test the lessons it teaches, rather than simply employing blind faith – which is really appealing. I’m also going to try and mediate more often, I love how clear and steady my thoughts were after a few days attempted mediation.

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1 comment:

  1. Brilliant Paul! This looks more like the traditional China you wanted to see. Your sectet chocolate stash was a good idea haha. Glad you gained something from the experience. A great read Paul.