October 23, 2010
Zoe didn’t think I had enough climbing the day before, so she suggested we go to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery—yes, 400 more steps up (and then, of course, I had to navigate down as well!!).
But, oh, my it was well worth the trip! There were actually well over 13,000 Buddhas, everywhere…big ones, small ones, in niches, along the path, but I get ahead of myself.
When we arrived on the subway, we could see the monastery up on the hill in the distance, so we headed in that direction. We made a wrong turn and ended up at a mausoleum with thousands of niches with remains. There was incense burning everywhere and it was a very hot day. We also witnessed a couple of burial ceremonies. It was very touching and an incredible cultural experience. No one seemed bothered by our presence. We ended up going back down the hill and finding the right path to the temple…
The Ten Thousands Buddhas Monastery is on the hillside sanctuary at Pai Tau Tsuen, Sha Tin. It was built just 60 years ago by Yuet Kai, a monk, poet, and lyre-player whose mummified remains now form the centerpiece of the monastic temple.
We began the long climb, but how entertaining as we encountered all these incredibly expressive life-sized statues! There were thin Buddhas, chubby Buddhas, bald Buddhas, hairy Buddhas, Buddhas with walking sticks, Buddhas with dogs and dragons and frogs and little children, macho Buddhas. The entire climb was a lesson in Buddha diversity. The only Buddha I didn't see, though, was a sweaty, exhausted Buddha, which is exactly how I felt like by the time I reached the top of the hill! Okay, I’ll admit, about half way up this hill, my knees starting aching! However, this dramatic sacred site in Hong Kong was so worth the long climb. Again, I was amazed to see people with canes and walkers taking this journey. The monastery itself contains a beautiful giant pagoda and a temple with many more small buddha statues lining the walls.
We navigated yet another several steps but the prize at the end was absolutely spectacular! The white Buddha (see right) is beautiful and a testament to the incredible spirituality of the Buddhist religion.
The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is definitely off the beaten path; but I'm really glad I took the time to visit. This was a really interesting glimpse into the recent history and religious life of the Cantonese.