I went on a trip for the National holiday, since I had 5 days off for the first time in a long time. I wanted my first real vacation to be something wonderful and interesting so I asked my husband and friend to take me to Putousan. This is the famous holy island that is the home of the buddha.
Yes, although few people are aware of it I am buddhist. I am not the strict vegetarian, vegan, fasting buddhist, but I am a believer of the buddha way and my one true beloved would be Kwan-Yin. She represents compassion and I try to lead my life by her words. No matter how hard it can be.. with the haters out there.
Anyway… our trip started at 9am.. we were off in my friend’s Audi to head to the place to park the car so we can take a boat to the Holy Island. We didn’t start off too good. After we parked the car… a taxi guy told us it was far to the dock and that he can take us there for 20 rmb. We thought about it .. and then decided okay.. for 20 rmb is must be really far… well to our surprise.. it was about a block away. We could have walked it in about 5 minutes. (see this is when that compassion thing can be easily lost) .. My friend argued with him and got the price down to 14rmb.. since he cheated us anyway.
When we arrived at the dock there were loads of people… I had to hold tightly to my husband’s hand and my purse (thieves) to get thru. It took about 30 minutes to fight the crowd to get into the building of the dock to prepare to get on the boat. I was shoved so many times… I got a little irritated and just stuck my ass out .. to block people. I stayed strong although people tried to strong-arm me.. I was bigger and I was not moving.
We finally got on the boat.. after about another 15 minute wait. My husband was thrilled because he had never ridden in a boat before… (which I never knew until now).. so he was trying to snap photos and see the water.. My friend on the other hand… he was not good with closed spaces.. since we were all inside the boat…(for safety reasons) .. he was not enjoying himself…..
The boat ride took about 10 minutes.. and we were off to find the way into the island so we could begin our journey. To our surprise it cost 200 rmb per person to get onto the island. (think $200 in america to get into a place..yeah expensive) I am assuming this fee was to take care of the island.. and with all these people they were banking a lot of money.
We finally got enough cash together between us… and asked the guard if there was an atm somewhere.. because we had used all our cash. (thank goodness there was one close) .. now… money replenished and legs stretched we were off to find the buddha.
Now I know that you have to walk in China.. because you usually have to walk everywhere here.. but to reach the buddha of compassion you have to walk all the way to the other side of the island. That was about 10 miles. It started out okay.. because I was snapping photos and looking at everything beautiful. But then we hit the base of the mountain and they people were in droves. I just was like .. you have got to be kidding me.. there were at least 400 people walking on this path up the mountain.
We also noticed that we needed to buy another ticket to continue upward to see the majestic one. This time 6 rmb not too bad. So, we started up the mountain. Two miles to walk up to the top of the mountain. My legs hurt, my feet hurt and my patience was thin dealing with all the people. I just kept holding on to my husband…it was like something was pulling me to the top of the mountain and yes.. part of that pull was my husband trying to get me up the mountain.
The last 50 ft. to the top of the temple was all stairs. They are really, really trying to kill the foreigners here. How are old people suppose to climb this thing? With a burst of energy that I did not know I had.. I started up the stairs. The closer I got the more energy I had.. it was like something.. or someone was calling to me to ..hurry my ass up.
When I got to the top of the mountain.. and saw the temple of Compassion there.. I just stop and stared at it…. I just could not move.. there were hordes of people all around me… that were pushing and shoving but.. I could only stand there and look.
It was extremely breath-taking…. I looked at her and all at once became relaxed. All my fears about life, death, living .. just disappeared. I was at the feet of god. (for those Christians out there.. that is the feeling I had of pure love)… The closer I got to the buddha the more peaceful I felt. I could have stood in her presence forever and been okay.
I walked around the temple taking the photos you see above… because I wanted this moment ,this feeling to be remembered always. Everything seemed clearer… This was why I choose to come to China… this is why I live my life the way I do… this is my spirit guide to everything.
I am still reeling from the effects of that first look. I then turned to try to find my husband and friend. Of course in that crowd of people they were gone.. and with a bunch of Chinese people… looking for two Chinese people was impossible. They were better off looking for me… I stood out.
I went inside the temple to pray.. for my family, my friends, my husband, and my life…. then sat outside and just looked at everything… so peaceful a place so high on the mountain. It was so beautiful.. even with all the thousands of people all around…. it was clean… the monks work hard to take care of her.. I am sure….I was calm… at peace.
After about an hour and a half… we decided to start back down the mountain… I was tired … actually exhausted… and hungry.. but I knew we needed to get back down the island.. and find a boat to make it back to the car.
The whole time I was walking back down the mountain…. with my legs barely moving and my feet dying…. I watched my husband’s back and thought…. how lucky I am to have seen such a beautiful gift…
how wonderful my life truly is filled with family, friends….
how this experience has changed my life…
and How the hell my husband has so much energy that he was walking down this mountain so fast. I had to yell at him like 4 times to slow down… my friend and I were dying.. and he was jogging down the mountain like he was in a triathlon.
So far this was the best thing I have gotten to see and experience in China. My dream was to see her…. and bow at her feet. My soul is fulfilled. My mission in life has been solidified. I have found peace… and she resides in the top of Putuosan.
Below is one of many stories of Kwan-Yin:
According to the story, the king asked his daughter Miao Shan to marry the wealthy man he choose, she told him that she would obey his command, so long as the marriage eased three misfortunes.
The king asked his daughter what were the three misfortunes that the marriage should ease. She explained that the first misfortune the marriage should ease was the suffering people endure as they age. The second misfortune it should ease was the suffering people endure when they fall ill. The third misfortune it should ease was the suffering caused by death. If the marriage could not ease any of the above, then she would rather retire to a life of religion forever.
When her father asked who could ease all the above, Miao Shan pointed out that a doctor was able to do all of these.
Her father grew angry as he wanted her to marry a person of power and wealth, not a healer. He forced her into hard labor and reduced her food and drink but this did not cause her to yield.
Every day she begged to be able to enter a temple and become a nun instead of marrying. Her father eventually allowed her to work in the temple, but asked the monks to give her the toughest chores in order to discourage her. The monks forced her to work all day and night, while others slept, in order to finish her work.
However, she was such a good person that the animals living around the temple began to help her with her chores. Her father, seeing this, became so frustrated that he attempted to burn down the temple. She put out the fire with her bare hands and suffered no burns. Now struck with fear, her father ordered her to be put to death.
When she was executed, a supernatural tiger took her to one of the more hell-like realms of the dead. However, instead of being punished by demons like the other inmates, Kwan yin played music and flowers blossomed around her. This completely surprised the head demon. The story says that by merely being in that hell, she turned it into a paradise.
Filled with compassion, she released all the good karma she had accumulated through her many lifetimes, thus freeing many suffering souls back into Heaven and Earth.
Another tale says that Miao Shan never died but was in fact transported by a supernatural tiger, believed to be the Deity of the Place, to Fragrant Mountain.
The Legend of Miao Shan usually ends with Miao Chuang Yen, Miao Shan’s father, falling ill with jaundice. No physician was able to cure him. Then a monk appeared saying that the jaundice could be cured by making a medicine out of the arm and eye of one without anger. The monk further suggested that such a person could be found on Fragrant Mountain. When asked, Miao Shan willingly offered up her eyes and arms. Miao Chuang Yen was cured of his illness and went to the Fragrant Mountain to give thanks to the person. When he discovered that his own daughter had made the sacrifice, he begged for forgiveness and the king, queen and her two sisters building a temple on the mountain for her. She began her journey to heaven and was about to cross over into heaven when she heard a cry of suffering from the world below. She turned around and saw the massive suffering endured by the people of the world. Filled with compassion, she returned to Earth, vowing never to leave till such time as all suffering has ended.
After her return to Earth, Guanyin was said to have stayed for a few years on the island of Mount Putuo (where I went) where she practised meditation and helped the sailors and fishermen who got stranded.
- A Monk’s Journey (beliefnet.com)
- Room for a faith community to grow (theolympian.com)
- Buddhist Symbols: The Dharma Wheel (brighthub.com)
- Confession Of A Buddhist Atheist (anatheist.net)
- Guang Yin Yoga Club : Idea inside the box [Image] (scaryideas.com)