The Taihuasi Monastery
Here's yet another monastery at the West Hills near Kunming. Mostly, the warmth of this location comes from its trees and park-like setting. Its comfortable, and there's a sense here of a lack of boundaries.
Throughout much of the day we spent in the West Hills, I kept looking off the road for a small trail to follow to a mineral deposit or hidden mine, as I'm accustomed to doing while hiking in the San Bernardino Forest of Southern California. However, at each of the tourist destinations in the West Hills, it is difficult to get past the fence or get off the trail. This monastery doesn't have much of a fence in its back and so it isn't difficult to quietly walk out into the neighboring hillside. Someday I'll return to do that, taking these tours with others who don't share your love of the "outback" makes it difficult to get off the beaten trail.
This monastery was originally built in 1306. Yadda yadda yadda. It was a warm year as I remember. Really good corn that fall. Navy beat Army. That stands out, too.
There's a really big Gingko tree here (that's Bai Guo or Yin Xing for those of you with Chinese herbal training.) According to legend, it was planted by Emperor Jianwen of the Ming dynasty who came to Yunnan after dethronement in 1402.
This is the first of the Four Heavenly Kings in the entrance hall. The colors are really quite vivid because the paints are made with graphite, malachite, azurite and other traditional pigments.
Here's another Heavenly King. I think this one's a tenor.
Okay, this is really cool. In the Majestic Hall for Great Siddhartha, there is a sign that hangs from the entrance that says "absolutely unchangeable eternal truth". That got me to thinking. The way in which a Buddhist might describe that truth is not the same way a Christian or Jew would. I was musing on that when I came up to this Buddha holding a book. Asking my Chinese teacher to read the characters for me, it turns out that this Buddha is holding the Old Testament Bible. Wow.
Here's a bunch of Buddhas just hanging out not-being.
Looking into their faces you can almost sense their conscious compassion.
How many Zen Buddhas does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
One to screw it in and one not to.
A good hostess can help the foriegn visitor feel right at home, especially when looking for a restroom.
On the left is my Chinese language teacher, June. She's sitting with her sister and our host for the day. This picture among the stupas or burial monuments of former abbots of the monastery. The two sisters are holding a couple of fresh blooms from the Gui Hua tree. The night before, I'd had some wine flavored with these very blooms. When we tried to leave with them, they were confiscated, no doubt to discourage people from picking the blooms off of the trees and flowers within the monastery.