Monday, September 9, 2013

Hangzhou Flying Mountain

A mountain that flew all the way from India to China? Hard to believe?

So says the legend. Feilai Feng (飞来峰) located at the Lingyin Temple (灵隐寺) in Hangzhou, near to the West Lake is a huge limestone mountain measuring 209 meters (700 feet) tall. Legend has it that she flew all the way from India and ended up here in Hangzhou. This rock formation is definitely unique considering that this is the only limestone rock formation among the common sandstone mountains in that area. 

It was said that an ancient monk by the name of Hui Lin, who had just came back from India saw this rock formation 1600 years ago and was convinced that this rock, similar to what he had saw in India had flew all the way and made her home in Hangzhou, as a demonstration of the great omnipotence of the Buddhist law.  

You will find a total of 345 scruptures both big and small carved out on the face of this rock, some dating as far back as 951AD. There is also another legend that surrounds the existence of so many Buddha statues carved on the rock. It was sad that before the rock finally landed on her current location, she has been flying all over the land, crushing and destroying anything in her path. The statues were carved to suppress her to her current position. 

Among the many interesting carvings found here, one that immediately stands out is the carving of the Laughing Buddha sitting on the cliff by a stream with his belly exposed. It was said that his rather `big’ belly is where he kept all the world’s worries. 

In one of the core caves within this rock formation, there is huge carving of bodhisattva Guanyin. There is a crack on the wall of the caves that reaches all the way to the ceiling and it is said that if one stands at the exact place, you could see a tiny light shining through like a thread all the way up. Hence this cave is known as “One Thread of Heaven.” (一线天)

Located just outside the Feilai Feng is a huge pagoda said to contain the remains of Hui Lin, the great monk who discovered Feilai Feng.

Feilai Feng is located within the temple grounds of Lingyin. The crowd at Feilai Feng can be taunting especially on weekends or public holidays but as one wanders through the temple grounds, which is currently one of the largest and wealthiest Buddish monesteries in China, the crowd thins and you begin to feel a deep sense of peace, the type that is not only external but spiritual to a certain extend, one that touches your soul. 

For whatever reasons, your soul quiets down and your worldly worries tend to slip away as you climb up the steps to reach the top of the monestary. (I get goosebumps even as I write this article, just recalling the calmness I felt even though the visit was more than 6 months ago). 

Maybe it has to do with the name of the place to begin with. Lingyin Temple is also known as the Temple of the Soul’s Retreat and rightly so, because that would be exact innner peace and tranquility that one’s soul tend to feel as your eyes feast on her many calm, serene yet mesmerizing sights. 

I am not a Buddist yet I left this place, feeling refreshed somewhat and a sense of peace that I have not enjoyed for a long while. 

Maybe, just maybe, my soul has been truly refreshed from this small but short retreat that I encountered at Lingyin.

No amount of words can properly described that feel. You just got to be there to experience it.

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