Sunday, March 07, 2010

Illuminating the World in Peace

We first read about the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace in the March 5 edition of the St. Pete Times. It reported that the Jade Buddha, a 10 ft high Buddha statue weighing 10 tons is coming to the Town N' Country area of Tampa. Reading on, we note that the Statue was sculptured by expert craftsmen in Thailand over a two-year period from a monolithic gem-quality jade found in Canada. The global tour of harmony is under the aegis of an Australian-based Buddhist organization, the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion.

Then last night, Wify learned that her sister in Australia actually knows Mr. Ian Green, the chairman of the above named organization. Mr. Ian Green was also instrumental in arranging for the visits of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to Australia. It is against this backdrop of condition arising that we visited the Minh Dang Quang Monastery this morning to partake of this unique opportunity.

The road side ringing the Monastery compound was already filled up with cars when we arrived this morning about 9.30am. Fortunately, the Monastery is abutted by the Town N' Country Commons, a block of building with children playground and a sizable parking lot located behind the Monastery but separated from it by a shallow lake circumscribed by a concrete walkway.

The Jade Buddha is housed in a staged area located next to the temple. A constant throng of visitors was already lining up to ascend a shallow flight of steps to a platform upon which the Jade Buddha is seated, amidst Buddhist music with a melody that we are familiar with, the Mantra of the Great Compassion. Wify realized immediately that the lyrics is a repetition of Om mani padme hum, the six syllabled mantra of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig in Tibetan, and Guanyin in Chinese, or the Goddess of Mercy in popular parlance).

Apart from the temple proper, the compound has several discrete areas devoted to depicting the various stages of the life of Siddhārtha Gautama/the Buddha in the form of life-sized statues. Venerable bhikkhus and bhikkhunis (male and female Buddhist monastics) mingled freely with the crowd who was engaged in different manners of praying, prostration, posing and photo-shooting, and browsing the various items of Buddhist interest displayed on individual stalls scattered over the compound. The main attraction was undoubtedly the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace seated tall on the raised platform, looking benevolently on the stream of visitors paying their homage and praying collectively for global harmony. Wify went through the same ritual while I dutifully recorded the proceeding as a keen observer.

Before we left, we stopped by the Temple as well where the Buddha's relics housed in elegantly shaped crystal mini stupas are on display. The setting is simple but solemn, eliciting a sense of serenity in the visitors. Having fulfilled our intent, we departed with the firm belief that indeed the Jade Buddha will illuminate the world with peace. We still have to do our fair share, but importantly, we too have to believe.

The Jade Buddha will be on display at the Minh Dang Quang Monastery through March 14.

The gathering crowd waiting for their term to pay homage and pray for world harmony.

The first of the 3D depictions of the life of Siddhartha Gautama/the Buddha: In Lumbini Park, on the seventh step after emerging from the right side of Queen Maya, Prince Siddhartha and the Buddha-to-be, declared, "I'm supreme," with his right forefinger pointing skyward. Here the pronoun is in reference to the Buddha Nature.

Here the young Prince Siddhartha is preparing to enter into monastic life by cutting off his hair (symbolically severing all worldly ties) after leaving the confines of the palace on the white horse.

The Buddha at the ascetic phase of his truth-seeking journey before he gave up his austere penances to become enlightened.

Upon enlightenment attained under a Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, the Buddha first taught the Dharma to five former companions, who became the Buddha's first five disciples, at the deerpark of Isipatana (Sarnath). This was the incipient formation of the Sangha, the monastic order. The Buddha's first sermon became the Four Noble Truths that were completely expounded through the three rotations (exposition, exhortation, and verification) of the Dharma Wheel. This beaming beacon of the light of wisdom embodied in the four universal truths of suffering (dukka), the origin of suffering (samudaya), the cessation of suffering (nirodha), and the path to the cessation of suffering (marga) thus became the essence of Buddhism that is intertwined with condition origination (causality).

The Buddha seated in the lotus position.

Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara appearing in one of the thirty two forms, in this case the most recognizable as the Goddess of Mercy, holding a bottle containing the water of compassion to sprinkle on all sentient beings.

A boy praying in full concentration next to the Buddha and the fronting Bodhisattva Maitreya, the successor of Śākyamuni Buddha.

Now it's Wify's term.

Wify and other devotees venerating the Jade Buddha and praying for world harmony.

The setting in the Temple with a table-ful of mini stupas housing the relics (Shari) of the Buddha in the foreground.

A silent reminder of the impermanence of life stands starkly in the compound.


Lee Wei Joo said...

A great account of the Jade Buddha, and of Prince Siddhartha's life account in general. Very enlightening and peace to all!

Sathira said...

You have been tagged.Please visit my latest post. Regards