Zhenru Temple, Yongxiu, Jiangxi
(August 10, 2012)

(1) The entry gate to Zhenru Temple is quite a ways from the compound (in the background).

Important in its own right as a seat of Caodong Chan (Soto Zen), Zhenru Temple is also where Master Xuyun (see my Northern Guangdong albums) passed from this world in 1959 at age 120 (!). It's the last temple he restored. It's also tough to get to, and from: I ended up hitchhiking out of there on a very rainy day.

(2) Chinglish fan? Enjoy.

(3) The (new?) Mountain Gate, seen across the "Lake Letting Them Go" (the term the sign uses for "Free Life Pond"--I think I'll keep calling it that!) The buildings on either side of the gate are new.

(4) I sheltered under the new Mountain Gate when I first arrived, and I had company.

(5) Looking from the new Mountain Gate back toward the entry gate, and to the mountains beyond. This was my view as I sheltered in the gate and talked to Lila on the phone. PS "Yunju," the name of the mountain where the temple is located, means "Cloud Residence." Today, they were at home!

(6) The newly-refurbished Heavenly Kings' Hall. Not sure I like the salmon-and-turquoise color scheme.

(7) One of several ancient trees on the property. This one is near the construction zone, so it's surrounded by debris.

(8) Another old tree; a wall has been broken in the background, next to a meditation hall.

(9) The back of one of the new buildings.

(10) This was interesting. The statuary plan on the main axis is absolutely standard; no surprises. But look at this: The three Buddhas (and Shakyamuni's attendants) on the main altar are set on a sculpted sea. Jung would have loved the idea of these figures rising out of the water of the Unconscious.

(11) Is it just me, or is this elephant scary-looking?

(12) There must be a story here: detail from the "Island Guanyin" behind the main altar.

(13) Who here is old enough to remember why this picture makes me think of Burt Reynolds? Meanwhile, it's a serious subject: the Buddha entering Nirvana (=dying).

(14) One of the ginormous new halls.

(15) This worker's hat and poncho were discarded and hung on a gate column as the rain cleared away. The image struck me somehow.

(16) Far across the paddies, I spotted a small collection of pagodas. (As I walked out the front gate, I saw a few more, too.) But I made my way out to these.

(17) And here they are. The square one at the back is a design I don't think I've seen before.

(18) As I headed out the front gate, I looked back and saw this flotilla in the "Lake Letting Them Go." There were quite a few protected animals around; Eric Johns, in his account of staying at the temple, mentions seeing some pretty wild things in the area, too.

(19) Walking out the front gate and turning right, one sees this second gate ahead.

(20) Inside is a compound containing yet another memorial pagoda to Master Xuyun. This one has special significance, though, as it's next to the temple where he "achieved stillness." I had a great encounter with an older layman here. I have read that Master Yi Cheng had this built; but on hearing I was Master Benhuan's disciple (a long story), the layman told me Benhuan built it.

(21) The pagoda inside the small hall

(22) In back of the larger pagoda sits this smaller one, with arcane markings. I've seen several of these (many of them quite old) in Japan, but few here in China.

(23) A denizen of the memorial compound, the fiercest of them all. An adult male dog with these same markings walked with me partway out to the park gate, where I caught a ride. I wonder if this little one is his?

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