One advantage of Taiwan is the diversity of things you can explore. One day you hike in an amazing gorge, the other day make a bike tour at the biggest lake, another day you chill on the beaches of the south – and everything is reachable in one day. Great right?! I have been to Taiwan six full months and there is still so much awesome stuff to explore. This time the new exchange students, friends and me visited the Buddha Memorial Centre near Kaohsiung.
By far, it was one of the most fascinating places I have been in Taiwan. The museum is an architectural beauty consisting various doctrines of Buddhism manifested in pagodas, temples and halls. The whole complex is divided into the three gems or refuges of Buddhism – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
The Fo-Guang-Shan-Buddha-Museum is the newest and most touristic construct of the complex. Besides winning the TripAdvisor’s choice Award 2016 and is the fourth popular sightseeing spot in whole Taiwan, the museum offers a variety of symbolic buildings.
The eight pagodas on the way to the main hall are:
- One Teaching Pagoda
- Two Assemblies Pagoda
- Three Goodness Pagoda
- Four Giving Pagodas
- Five Harmonies Pagoda
- Six Perfections Pagoda
- Seven Admonishments Pagoda
- Eightfold Path Pagoda
… and each of them has a special meaning in Buddhism.
In the inside of the museum you can find different shrines as well as the life of Siddhartha Gautama, the great Buddha himself. One treasure those halls inherit is one tooth of The Buddha, conserved over 700 years after the Muslims invaded India. The authenticity is proven by 14 Tibetan monks protecting the tooth over centuries before it was brought to Taiwan by the founder of the Memorial, Hsing Yun. Unfortunately, we have not been allowed to make pictures of the relic, so here is a picture of a holy tooth.
Besides the pagodas on the surface and the museums and shrine inside, one structure was outstanding – or better outsitting. The big statue of Buddha, or the statue of Big Buddha is the cherry of the ice-cream top. Other than in Hong Hong, the figure of enlightenment was clearly visible on that beautiful day.
The Dharma is the second gem of Buddhism and the second separated temple we visited. It symbolizes the practices Buddha teaches as well as the Eightfold Path:
- Right view
- Right understanding
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness
- Right concentration
And the Four Truths:
- The Truth of Suffering
- The Truth of the Cause of Suffering
- The Truth of the End of Suffering
- The Truth of the Path Leading to the End of Suffering
However, this place was an amazing hall of concentrated enlightenment.
The third and last Jewel has been the monastery, where the order of monks and other enlightenment seeking pilgrims form the community of Buddha’s disciplines. This last sub-complex consists of temples and shrines, but also flats for the volunteers as well as classrooms and other infrastructure.
Here we saw 10000 Buddhas at Great Buddha Land as well as art exhibitions and temples with even more Buddha figures.
At the end of the day our little group of 22 people went home, enlightened to check another point of the Taiwan-Must-See list and happy to see Buddha again – but only in our minds.