Dajian Temple, Shaoguan, Guangdong
(July 22, 2012)

(1) Looking down the narrow street, you wouldn't guess that Dajian (Great Mirror") Temple was even there; but note the Dragon Pillars.

It's supposed to be the site where Dajian Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch of Chan (Zen) gave his famous Platform Sutra, the only book given by a Chinese master that has earned the title "sutra." Whether it was actually Huineng who gave it is widely disputed; it may have been written by his disciples or "school," as modern scholars believe is true of most books of the Bible.

Anyway, the temple is if nothing else an homage to the man and his book. It is also a way station between Yunmen Temple (where I was today, 7/23) and Nanhua Temple (tomorrow's trip).

This temple was long in ruins; the restoration is pretty bare-bones, as the pictures emphasize. Master Xuyun was able to build a vegetarian restaurant on the temple's former site in 1943; the "full" restoration that started in 1992 had to fit on the restaurant's site!

But there is a great surprise at the end...

(2) The temple's modest facade.

(3) The first floor, at least, looks more "temple-y."

(4) "Plans" indeed: The pagoda at the back isn't there (though there's room, if a nondescript building were demolished). And the front hall would have to be located in the street! The Mahavira Hall, the "Main Hall" (a utility building), and the Hall of Celestial Kings are all there.

(5) Here's most of it, from the front hall to the "Mahavira Hall" (yellow, with green roof--the only building that looks like a temple).

(6) Here's an image of the Sixth Patriarch as an illiterate boy, hauling charcoal when he heard the Diamond Sutra and had an awakening. This is on the front of the front building, above and to the right of the door.

(7) The Mahavira Hall (Buddha Hall), the only building in this temple that looks like a temple.

(8) Looking back from the door of the Mahavira hall to the "Main Hall," a utility building, and the largest in the place (maybe the former restaurant?)

(9) At the very back of the Mahavira (Buddha) Hall, there are three images (two with attendants): Dizang Bodhisattva on the left, Guanyin Bodhisattva in the center (as is usual), and Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch, on the right. This is not very common.

(10) A pleasant surprise: at the back of the temple, as shown on the map, are two ancient Bodhi trees. The name plates say they were planted before 1700. At any rate, these are proof that something "Buddhistical" has been on this site for a long time. I missed these on my previous visit, with my dear Buddhist friend Wang Fuqing in April, 2005.

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Last Updated August 18, 2019

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