Friday, April 22, 2011

Temple and Fellowship in Guangzhou


Today we went to the Six Banyan Tree Temple. Banyan trees are huge, beautiful trees. The pagoda at the temple leans to the right, so we weren't allowed to enter it. Jack told us about the many different buddhas, including a famous female buddha whose statue is said to watch over women and children. Single women pray in front of it for a good husband. Offerings of fruit, oil, water, and incense were everywhere on altars in front of the different buddhas. Most of the statues were gold, but one was a very dark wood. That statue was of the monk that started the temple. Since he was not considered a buddha, his statue couldn't be gold. Still, people worship in front of it. Three buddha statues were in the main building of the temple. They were ginormous! They represent past, present and future lives. A symbol that looks like a backward schwastika is on the chest of each buddha and represents the cycle of life. The dot located on the forehead is called a "third eye" that sees everything. We watched a ceremony that allowed people to bring in statues and other household items to be blessed by a monk. The monk sang over the items, banged on a wooden drum, and painted each item. This was supposed to give the item power from the buddha. The culture seems to be full of fear that evil spirits will enter home and business. Statues and other "good luck" pieces adorn the entries to almost every building to ward off the evil spirits. Emphasis is placed on fairies and power of ordinary objects to repel evil. I am reminded that all the power any of us needs is given to us by God. We don't have to rely on relics. We just need to trust God.

After the temple, we visited a local park, one of many in the city. I saw fellowship in action. People sang together, danced, exercised, rode amusement park rides, played badminton, and sat together sharing their beautiful surroundings. Groups of adults gathered for Tai-chi, children performed Kung Fu, and families walked and talked together. A large area with exercise equipment was packed with people stretching and strengthening their bodies. In a city full of tiny high rise apartments, this is the place people go to build relationships and experience life together. I LOVE Chinese parks!

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