Anyone who has been to Hong Kong would have heard of the Giant Buddha, more appropriately known as the Temple of Heaven (Tian Tan) Buddha Statue. Buddhist devotees from throughout Asia, and of course tourists, visit Lantau Island just to view this majestic bronze statue of Buddha, the largest outdoor Buddha statue in the world! This statue sits on top of Muyu Mountain near the Po Lin (Precious Lotus) Monastery which is on Ngong Ping Plateau. The lovely mountain scenery itself is worth the visit.
The Giant Buddha
It is incredible that this spectacular statue, which weighs 250 tons and is 34 metres tall, was not built where it is located. It was cast in China, and took 10 years to complete. It was open to the public in December 1993.
The figure depicts Lord Buddha in a seated, meditation posture.The right hand is raised in a significant pose. Buddhists understand it be a gesture which delivers blessings to all. The serene facial expression, and the way the head is tilted, looking down, lends a certain dignity to this splendid statue.
At the base of the statue is a pedestal that actually houses three exhibition halls. Within these halls, you can find documentations of Buddhist scriptures and relics that depict the history and culture of Buddhism. The Yoga Bell which has historic significance, bearing engravings of Buddha images and Buddhist scriptures, is kept within this three-tiered pedestal, and it tolls 108 times a day. Just a note of interest to visitors. Be prepared to climb that 200-odd steps to reach the base of the statue. I wouldn't advise high stilleto heels for your footwear, ladies, if you intend to go right up there. (See the photograph of the young man pointing to the stairway.)
Po Lin Monastery
This was originally a small temple back in 1924, in a location which was considered remote. Today, it is the top tourist destination and the most popular Buddhist monastery in the country. The atmosphere here is that of a peaceful landscaped retreat. The stone gateway is a subdued grey, which I actually prefer compared to the usual red we see so much of in Chinese-oriented archways. The park has two rows of life-sized statues of what looks like ancient warriors. Very interesting. Oh, and if you want refreshments, there are small cafes, and would you believe it, even Starbucks, here!Talk about incongruity...
My post happens to be perfect for the theme of Jingle's Week 41 of Poetry Potluck, that is, "Saints, Monks and Meditation"! I offer this poem, wrenched from my thoughts and wrung dry:
Under the craggy shadow
of the Giant Buddha
In the hushed temple
of the saffron cloak
In the deadened hope
of grasping serenity in my limp hands
For the happenstance
that my confusion could be quelled
In the audacious pursuit
of inner equilibrium
I sit in stiff, stark silence
I drone my wordless, writhing mantra
to defeat the demons of destruction
I seek stillness
to quieten my turbulent soul
I meditate... for a divine disclosure
of the reason for my reasonless existence.