Before we went out I had a quick look at todays photo challenge. Hmmm… Curves… I’ll have to think about that one.
I have decided that, each week, now we are home bodies, we really should challenge ourselves to seeking out somewhere interesting or different to explore in the immediate area, approximately 100 kilometres, around home. (Not really a New Years resolution, more a New Years interest)
Searching through the internet Jack found that there is a Buddhist Temple not far from here. In fact only a 15 minute drive along the motorway to Mudgeeraba. So today we went to find it. The first thing we saw was this large, imposing curvaceous Buddha surrounded with round pots and the palm fronds curving gracefully in the background
Yes I had curving on my mind…Past this meditation building called the “blessing house” guarded by the roly-poly Chinese lion with his foot firmly on a round ball. I can’t stop myself seeing round and curved things everywhere.
As we followed the curved walkway up to the temple we noticed that beautiful orchids had been attached to the trees.
How beautiful they are, so curved, not a straight line in sight. It was so peaceful walking through the trees admiring and taking photos of the orchids. The sound of chanting drifted through the air accompanied by the melodic ringing of a bell. Look at the graceful curve of the roofline.
The meditation session had just ended and the dozen or so people, all Asian, were leaving. We sat around for a while and then one of the female monks (Nuns?) stopped to talk to us. She explained that the meditation session had just ended, it was from 8am to 10am and yes we could go in to look at the temple. They had been here for 18 years but just built and opened this very impressive building a year ago. I take a photo of these 3 Buddha’s and Jack sits meditating while I start a sketch of this Buddha. I particularly like the curve of the staff he is holding and how the cloak flows and curves around the body. Again not a straight line in sight. We are totally absorbed in our activities when the door opens and a line of monks (male and female) clad in brown and saffron robes file in, followed by a group of about a dozen devotees. Jack is told to go over and sit on the men’s side of the temple and I stay sitting on a chair at the back wall of the women’s side of the temple. Everyone else takes their place in front of (what I thought was) foot stools, that turn out to be arm resting stools that they kneel in front of. Song/chanting books are handed around. They are in Chinese and English and I am given one and am able to work out what is happening. Then the chanting/singing starts. It is beautifully melodic and accompanied with the steady tinkle of a small bell and the occasional deep beat of a larger bell. The devotees, in unison, constantly kneel then stand, then kneel again. Touching their clasped hands in a “Namaste” gesture to their foreheads while continuing to chant. The voice of the main monk is clear and reverberates through a microphone leading the chant, a lulling and peaceful sound. It was hard to judge how long the chanting lasted, it was so relaxing. It was a chant blessing and thanking for the food that was being served for their meal. As the chant finished and everyone filed out we were invited to join them for lunch.
As we walk over to the dining room we are joined by Sam a friendly Chinese volunteer who tells us some of the history.
Welcome to Gold Coast Dharma Realm! GCDR is home to Shurangama Monastery and is an affiliate of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association USA, which was founded by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua (1918-1995) more than 50 years ago. At GCDR we strive to provide a space for Buddhist education and spiritual practice. Visitors are welcome to join us for meditation classes, mantra and sutra sessions, evening lectures on Buddhism, or a pure vegetarian lunch. We also have an extensive library of Buddhist texts to explore. ( go here to the web page it has a beautiful video plus more information)
Lunch is a delicious vegetarian meal accompanied by a quiet recording of good sayings and eaten in silence and contemplation.
Sam shows us where to find a peaceful walking trail that he says we will enjoy.The Arahan trail takes us through a winding, curving track between a forest of native trees. Across a wooden bridge that spans a dry river bed. Rounding a corner we are confronted with life-size sculptures of Chinese characters The track curves in a large circle with a total of 18 impressive statues. I take photos and read the descriptive plaques.We try to work out what the material is they are sculptured from. Think it is some sort of stone.
Jack looks ready to run when confronted by this fearsome couple. Don’t worry Jack I think Pindola has the tiger under control.
This cheerful figure was my favourite. Maybe because he looks like a traveller.These are only 5 of the 18 that I took photos of, but I think that is enough to show you.
I asked Google to tell me more about these remarkable figures and this is what I found out.
The Eighteen Arhats (or Luohan) (Chinese: 十八羅漢; pinyin: Shíbā Luóhàn; Wade–Giles: Shih-pa Lo-han) are depicted in Mahayana Buddhism as the original followers of Gautama Buddha who have followed the Noble Eightfold Path and attained the four stages of enlightenment. They have reached the state of Nirvana and are free of worldly cravings. They are charged to protect the Buddhist faith and to wait on earth for the coming of Maitreya, an enlightened Buddha prophesied to arrive on earth many millennia after Gautama Buddha’s death (parinirvana). In China, the eighteen arhats are also a popular subject in Buddhist art, such as the famous Chinese group of glazed pottery luohans from Yixian from about 1000 CE.
As we walked away from the trail we passed this circle with a perfectly curved stone wall, with seats around the perimeter, facing a shelter housing another Buddha. We sat for a while enjoying the peace among the trees and surrounded by the culture and aura of Buddhism. Contemplating on how unexpected things can turn out to be if you just “go with the flow”.
Tina gave us the theme “curves” in “The Lens-artist photo challenge” this week, and as you can see I couldn’t get that word out of my mind. It has been front and centre all day. Nice one Tina.
I would also like to link this with Cathy’s prose invitation that she hosts 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month. This amazing person has just finished walking the formidable Camino Track. She writes about it so eloquently that you can picture being with her and all the trials and tribulations she faces plus the moments of joy. She has just started posting about the experience so go over and join her on this epic journey.
The ever restless Jo is still walking and I haven’t joined her for a while so I would also like to join her with this short walk among the gum trees with a group of stone statues.