Shangchantang Temple, Jiuhuashan
(June 22, 2012)

(1) Walking down from Roushen Dian I quickly arrived at Shangchan Tang (Upper Chan [Zen] Hall). I came through this gate and down these stairs.

(2) The entry to the Hall is unprepossessing. But what wonders are inside!

(3) When I got inside the rundown but magnificent hall, there was a ceremony going on on behalf of a woman who was occasionally drawn into it. I was fascinated, and sat for almost two hours altogether watching, and even said my prayers as they said hers. I think it also won me some friendship from the monks; other visitors passed through the hall shouting, talking on phones, and even smoking. I guess the monks weren't used to seeing respectful silent behavior.

(4) As the ceremony continued, I crossed the Hall into the inner courtyard to see what I could see. The first thing I saw was this small pavilion over the "Golden Sands Spring."

(5) The spring has been rigged to deliver its water through Guanyin's "Vase of Compassion." I guess people drink it?

(6) Elsewhere in the courtyard is this empty fountain. At this rate it will never live up to the promise on the signboard on the wall behind...

(7) As you can see, not only are birds attracted to the fountain, but there's even a two-headed angel!

(8) The courtyard also had this charming bas-relief of a scene from "The Journey to the West."

(9) During the ceremony, the main celebrant kept tossing uncooked rice across the table. Afterward, this homemade device was used to push it into a corner, where a conventional broom and dustpan were used to pick it up. Fast and effective!

(10) The main hall has a remarkable setup. One reason I stayed so long was to try to sneak some pictures. It turned out there was no need: My friends the monks were very accommodating! There's a Shakyamuni with attendants in the center; Dizang on the left and Guanyin on the right, both with their attendants; and the Eighteen Arhats. Quite an array: 27 figures!

(11) A closer view, showing Shakyamuni (with attendants) and a glimpse of Dizang and Guanyin.

(12) The monks plied me with questions, and loaded me down with fruit; and not only did they allow me to take photos (despite a sign in Chinese to the contrary), one of them even scolded me for not focusing on this lantern, which dates back to the Ming Dynasty! "400 YEARS!" he shouted.

(13) When I first arrived, while the ceremony was still on, the old monk who tended the hall came over and pointed out this altar. He wanted me to know about the great monk who restored this temple, and even gave me a magazine about him. I think his name was Ren De (仁德), and he died in 2001.

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Last Updated August 15, 2019

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