Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Biechuan Si (别传寺) in Danxia Mountain
On the northern tip of Guangdong province, in the Shaoguan county there is a majestic range of red sandstone mountains called Danxia Shan (丹霞山). And in Danxia Shan there's a famous Chan monastery known as Biechuan Si (别传寺). After touring the peaks of Danxia, we descended a very steep flight of steps carved into the cliff to reach the temple. You had to hold the railings tightly as you went down so as not to fall off.
On the cliff we can see 4 words "Easy as ascending to Heaven" - surely this is an oxymoron when we think of how difficult it is to climb up or even down the steps.
The Wind Riding Pavilion for people to rest on the way down.
Yet another almost vertical flight of steps.
More calligraphy on the cliff "Stepping out on the top of the Pole" - this refers to the critical stage of Chan meditation where one must give up even the most subtle attachment to the all-encompassing emptiness.
The temple well. Behind there is a shrine to the earth deities Tudi Gong and Tudi Po.
Finally reaching the entrance of the temple. This temple was the place where Master Danxia Tianran of the Tang dynasty once stayed. He was the main character of the Koan of "Danxia burning the Buddha statues".
The inner wall of the temple with the words "Namo Amitofo".
Outside the Grand Hall.
The monks were doing their evening chanting in the hall when we were there.
Climbing up to the highest hall in the temple - the Vairocana Vihara.
Looking down from the Vairocana Vihara.
A grand 3-D Mandala depicting the Avatamsaka Universe of Vairocana Buddha. Vairocana sits right on the top, representing the Dharmakaya, and on the 2nd tier, the 4 Buddhas - Amitabha, Ashobhya, Ratnasambhava and Amoghasiddhi representing the Sambhogaya. All the other Buddhas in the myriad worlds below represent the Nirmanakaya.
The hall has mirrors on all sides, creating infinite reflections of the Mandala. This is also a core teaching of the Avatamsaka Sutra - the infinite inter-connectivity of all realms and the sentient beings who inhabit them.