Friday, November 9, 2012

Wenshu Monastery

Kirk had seen enough "temples" so I went with Marian to visit the Wenshu Monastery, an ancient, yet currently active, Buddhist site in downtown Chengdu.  I haven't studied Buddhism in depth, but every temple we have gone to has different "figures" to which the faithful burn incense and bow three times, close their eyes and think of good things.  It must be hard to pray when you don't know what/who you are praying to.  I admire how the Chinese desire to be faithful, and teach their little children who delight in kneeling on the cushions and bowing three times to the statues.
The "happy Buddha"

This one's not so happy--see him stepping on someone?

And the many-arms Buddha
Most of these statues actually represent a Bodhisattva, who is an enlightened being whose compassion keeps them on the earth to help others, even though they have achieved nirvana.  This monastery was built in 610 BC, and rebuilt in 1697.  There were many people there, and we added our incense representing the prayers ascending to heaven.

The strong smell of incense fills the air, and the smoke curls up to heaven--a nice visual picture.

Again, my favorite part of the Temple/Monastery is the gardens.  So peaceful, beautiful, elegant, relatively quiet, and serene.
Lots of elderly folks sitting on the bridge, chatting.

Look again--those aren't rocks, they're turtles!

Another beautiful fountain with rocks and greenery.

The people, again, are the most interesting sights to see.  We loved these men who had brought their birds in cages to hang them in the trees.  The birds were trilling at the top of their lungs to each other.  The men were chatting in the pagoda, exchanging social connections, just like the birds.

See the red "covers" showing where the bird cages are hanging?
And a day in the park wouldn't be complete without several games of mahjongg!
It costs a little bit to get into the Monastery, but there are always plenty of people there.  This one had an active congregation with monks leading them in a chant.  You could hear the rhythmic tinkle of the bell and the drum which are used to accompany the chanting.  It was all in unison, and a pleasant melody.  Not like what you hear from Monty Python!

There's a tall tower (hard to tell the perspective here) with a small window at the bottom with a statue inside.  We read that there was a skull fragment of a famous monk somewhere in this Monastery, but we never saw it displayed, so maybe it's in here!
And I had to rub the dragon for good luck.  Everyone else here does!

Back out in front of the Monastery, the neighborhood is very tourist-oriented and looks like other Chinatowns you've seen in the world.  So you know that those Chinatowns are authentic!
But we saw one sight I have never in my life seen before.  I wish I could have been brave enough to attempt a full-face shot, but I didn't want to embarrass this elderly gentleman.  Look at the length of his eyebrows!!  And they were both the same on each side!!  Incredible!!  How can he get them to grow that way?
Notice his cute little wife hanging on to him.  She thinks those brows are handsome!

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