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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

July 19: Excursions, and student performances

A small stupa, the Main Gate, and a mountain temple

Looking out of the dining room window today, I noticed this small stupa on a hillside next to the area where the new Mountain Gate is being constructed:

A: The location of the new Mountain Gate
B: The stupa on the hillside

Detail of the stupa site

Later, Venerable Hui Jing told me it was the (or a?) "Founder's Stupa." That's all I know about it. It used to be on the same ridge as the Pavilion seen above, but that has been cut through to build the Mountain Gate.

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When we drove out to the hermitage yesterday, we passed the Main Gate and a pond. I made a note of it, and decided to walk out today and take some pictures.

From the Outside In

The Main Gate, looking across the pond;
the road wraps around to the left

The Main Gate
The Second Gate
The site of the new Mountain Gate,
looking toward the temple

When I returned, it was nearly time for class. While the kids were having their "dress rehearsals," I looked out of the classroom window and saw the cemetery for monastics. The rain had started again, and this was my last day at the temple, so I knew I would have no chance to shoot the stupas from close-up. These shots from the window were all I could get:

Stupas left center; Marker bottom right

Closer view of the three stupas
(one behind palm tree)

The kids performed the play beautifully; kids, teachers, and monastics all had a lot of laughs. And I hope the kids learned something. You can see some pictures here.

At the end of dinner, Venerable Hui Jing asked if I'd like to see another temple nearby. "Be careful when you ask me things like that," I said (you should have seen Diego hesitate to translate that, but his relief when I added), "because I will always say 'yes'." Well, I was about to get a lesson in saying "yes." You see, yesterday when they said, "Let's go to a temple," we piled into cars. Today, it was a hike. Down a few hundred feet of wet, slippery stone steps; across a beautiful stream; up again to the rustic temple. Then back again, this time with Venerable Hui Jing saying "Hurry!" because there was a program starting. Torture.

I will eventually do a page on Lin Feng Temple [2023: Not yet!], but here are a few shots:

Venerable Hui Jing
speeds along the trail

The Five Dragons Pool (see below)

Lin Feng Temple
Guan Yin statue (see below)

Along the way we saw a place called "Five Dragons Pool." Venerable Hui Jing said that a "founder" had lived there in the Ming Dynasty (I think), and every day, when he chanted the Heart Sutra (my favorite), five dragons came out of the pool to listen. Nice. (There's so much I could say about this folklorically. For example: Water often symbolizes the unconscious; when he chanted this sutra, five denizens [the five senses? the five skandhas?] were raised out of pre-consciousness into consciousness.)

After seeing the temple's main building, I wandered outside and noted a side hall and a rear hall, both of them unfinished. When I went back in, Diego said we were walking up to the rear hall. "But it's not finished," I complained. Nevertheless, we went, and I'm so glad we did. Although it is indeed unfinished, it housed an amazing figure of the Eleven-Headed, Thousand-Armed Guan Yin--always my favorite Bodhisattva image.

So, despite the extraordinary (for me) effort in getting there and back again, I was rewarded with two of my faves: a story of my favorite sutra, and a statue of my favorite Bodhisattva. Not a bad evening's work.

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The evening program was supposed to be tea with the Master, but he was ill. Meanwhile, I finally had hot water (it's a solar heating system, and it had been stormy), so I had my first hot shower since our arrival, and went to bed early.

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