My parents were interested in Chinese Buddhist architecture. They experienced many related monasteries, temples, pagodas and grottos which represented Chinese aesthetics and culture. The Baoguang monastery was located at Xindu, about 18 kilometers away from Chengdu. In September, my parents, uncles and I drove there to visit the monastery. It was built in the Eastern Han Dynasty about 1900 years ago, followed the Buddhist Chan-Sect monastery pattern with lush bamboos surrounding the five halls and the 16 courtyards.
Three Gates stood side by side. In the middle was the largest one, and the other smaller two were besides seperately. Inside the Three-Gate-Hall stand the two warrior attendant with golden pestles in their hands, which looked like guardians. Then statues of Maitreya and Four Heavenly Kings were in the Heavenly Hall. The South King in charge of wind had a magic sword; the Eastern King, in charge of music, carried a Chinese 4-String lute; the West King held an umbrella in his hands in charge of rain, and the North King with a pagoda on his hand to control ghosts and evils. The Laughing Buddha was holding the smooth beads with his leg crossed and his belly exposed. The guide explained all the fairy details and then we headed for the Sheli Pagoda.
The Sheli Pagoda inclined slightly to the west.
It is about 30 meters high with 13 stories and a golden top. It was believed that this pagoda was built to bless good weather and harvest in the coming year. The bell tower and drum tower were on each side of the pagoda and the monks’ residence was beyond the drum tower. The Seven Buddha’s Hall meant that there were seven Buddhas in literary. They looked serene and quiet. We carefully observed the seven images for a while. The general Wei Tuo, who was ordered to protect monks and nuns, was set at the back of the seven Buddhas.
Then, we visited the main hall of the monastery and that was the Great Buddha Hall. Many huge stone pillars supported the vault and all pillars were carved with familiar couplets. There was an inscription and four characters on the board, it read: Da Xiong Bao Dian. Sakyamuni sat on the altar with his legs crossed on the lotus throne and the two disciples standing next to him. Many cushions were placed below the altar in rows on the ground. In the morning and the afternoon, monks chanted scriptures in the hall and started meditation sometimes. The Amitabha stood behind the hall and he held a lotus flower in a niche. We also pay a short visit to the monks’ dining room and dormitory with the guidance of the tour guide. After lunch, we continued visited other splendid parts and the Arhat Hall.
This trip certainly helped me with a good learning of Chinese religion culture and reminded Chinese descendants to protect our religious heritages.