Lens-Artists photo challenge : Curves in Buddhism…

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. untitled-1-1_3187x3021The 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…untitled-2-2_4939x3704Past 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.untitled-3-3_3249x3674

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. untitled-6-6_4581x3417Look 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. untitled-8-7_5184x3888I 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. untitled-9-8_3344x4694We 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.untitled-10-9_4515x3351The Arahan trail takes us through a winding, curving track between a forest of native trees. untitled-13-12_5184x3888Across a wooden bridge that spans a dry river bed. Rounding a corner we are confronted with life-size sculptures of Chinese characters untitled-11-10_5184x3888untitled-12-11_4508x2317The track curves in a large circle with a total of 18 impressive statues. I take photos and read the descriptive plaques.untitled-15-14_3888x5184untitled-14-13_3198x1640We try to work out what the material is they are sculptured from. Think it is some sort of stone.

untitled-17-16_4361x3504Jack looks ready to run when confronted by this fearsome couple. untitled-18-17_4306x2265Don’t worry Jack I think Pindola has the tiger under control.

This cheerful figure was my favourite. Maybe because he looks like a traveller.untitled-21-20_3888x5184untitled-22-21_4778x2780These 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.

untitled-23-22_5184x3888

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”.

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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.

 

44 comments

  1. Wonderful exploration of this Buddhist temple, Pauline. How great that you have a goal to get out and explore places within a close distance of home, and you found this oasis where you hadn’t been before. The temple so reminds me of my wanders throughout Japan. Thanks for taking us along to the Buddhist ceremony (I felt like I was right there!) and through the trails in the woods, and to meet the Eighteen Arhats. I also thank you for linking to my invitation and for the kind words you wrote about me. Namaste, friend. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a joyour outing with so many unexpected gifts. Also what a very good idea to make a point of exploring your own locality. We so often miss what is under our noses, and then what treasures you turned up, and brilliant for the challenge too.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Amazing what you can miss so close to home and I am always so impressed how easily you and Jack seem to mix with everyone you meet.you are a very open-minded and relaxed couple. Thank you for taking me to this unusual place.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderful experience, and you’ve woven your story seamlessly arounfpd the themes. T and I are doing a similar thing; exploring bits of Auckland we’ve never visited before. The city has some amazing little gems tucked away.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a beautiful temple, Pauline. And so close to home. Your photos capture the peace and your description of the chanting reminded me of my own quiet, even transformative, experiences listening to monks chanting.

    Liked by 1 person

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