Sunday, February 15, 2009

Big Temple in Bebop City

Everybody around here calls it "Hongfa" Temple, which is actually an abbreviation for Hongyang Fofa, and you can translate that as "propagating the Buddhadharma."

It was originally built on the northwest slope of Wutong Mountain, around the turn of the twentieth century, in an attempt to pacify what was otherwise a strife-torn area. Later, in 1985, it was rebuilt facing Fairy Lake Botanical Gardens, and is in fact the first Buddhist temple to be constructed in China after 1949.

In Bebop City (my idiosyncratic name for Shenzhen), the place is famous for being the home of Monk Shi Benhuan, who is 102 years old, and who from 1939 to 1949 wrote out 19 volumes of the sutras in his own blood.

He is delightful to visit, and answers every question by laughing and saying, "Everything will be fine." The temple opened for business in 1990, and in 1998 hosted a mass ordination of 300 monks, including one American --- something of a rarity in these parts. Nowadays it is popular with the locals as a place for lovers and old friends to go wandering together.

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