Friday, October 31, 2008
Temples in Guangzhou - Hualin Si (华林寺)
Hi readers I just came back from a tour to Guangdong province in China. One of the first temples I visited there was Hualin Si, an temple more than 1,400 yrs old. It is one of the four great temples of Guangzhou, the provincial capital. Hualin Si used to be called Xilai An, as it is a temple dedicated to Bodhidharma, the 1st Patriarch of Zen in China. Legend has it that this is the place that Bodhidharma resided when he first arrived in Guangzhou from India in the year 526 CE. Above we see the entrance of the temple.
A peach tree sculpture beside the entrance.
The Chamber of Bodhidharma. Perhaps the chamber where he stayed in at that time?
A closer look at the bronze statue of Bodhidharma holding a bowl. Notice a hexagon-shaped orb on the right side of the picture near his shoulder.
General 'Ha' guarding the Arahant Chamber.
General 'Hum' on the other side.
The main altar inside the chamber venerating the Buddhas of the 3 Worlds.
The altar to Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.
The Patriarch Hall venerating Bodhidharma. Hualin Si has no grand hall, and this Patriarch Hall is the largest hall in the temple.
A huge wooden statue of Bodhidharma in the meditation posture sits inside the hall. The board above writes "One Flower Five Petals" - signifying Bodhidharma and the 5 Patriarchs of Zen descending from him. Again I noticed a hexagon-shaped orb above the head of Bodhidharma. What could it be?
A closer view of Bodhidharma.
At the side of the Patriarch Hall is this curtain with the words "Namo Amitofo".
This 300 over yrs old white stone pagoda in the northern corner of the temple used to house the Buddha's relics, but it was moved away from the temple in 1965 and the relics confiscated by the government. The pagoda was only returned to the temple in 1994 and the relics in 1996.
Behind the Patriarch Hall is this board which writes "Meaning of Coming from the West", the subject of many Zen koans. The answers of Zen Masters to that question are of completely varied, but they all aim to point the finger back to your own Buddha-nature. I like this answer to the question "what is the meaning of the patriarch coming from the west?" The reply, "An arrow flying across the sky." Do you understand?