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Sunday, July 25, 2010

No. 31: Gaomin Temple, Yangzhou, Jiangsu

The main compound (大院) seen from the top of the pagoda
(塔) at Gaomin Temple (高旻寺), Yangzhou, Jiangsu (江苏, 扬州市)
Leaving Zhenjiang, I took a highway bus to Yangzhou. I had lived there before, so going there was a little like returning to my hometown.

After checking in, I took a bus out to Gaomin Temple. This was just "tagging up," as in 2007 I had had a thorough tour of the temple (with a busload of monks and nuns from Fo Guang Shan in Gaoxiong, Taiwan Province).

But this time, there was only ONE monk on my bus. And as it turned out, he was born in Canada. Venerable Sheng Xing's mother used to attend yearly ceremonies regularly at Gaomin Temple, and he came with her once--and was hooked. He was now studying Chinese medicine in Beijing, and was back at Gaomin for the school holiday.

He got permission to do something I hadn't done with the other monks and nuns: we were permitted to climb the pagoda. (How could I tell him: I hate stairs!) Anyway, we made it, and the views were spectacular.

Aside from that, we spent a little time in the main hall, with its amazing statuary.

And then I was off, for I had another mission. Although Master Xingyun's Fo Guang Shan Monastery is in Taiwan, he was born in the Jiangdu area of Yangzhou. Using his biography, I set out to find his birthplace.

After many hours, and the kindness of many strangers, I was able to locate a house occupied by his niece and her husband, where they kept a small altar. Not exactly his birthplace, they said, but very near: the Mainland roots of a global Buddhist organization.

All in all, another great day on the pilgrim path.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily August 13, 2012.)

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Map:




GALLERY

The Main Gate at Gaomin Temple, Yangzhou
The impressive front of Gaomin Temple's main hall
View of the main compound from the top of the pagoda (postcard above)
"Jade" Buddhas inside the pagoda
Altar in the home of Master Xingyun's niece in Jiangdu, Yangzhou (postcard below)
BONUS IMAGE: The altar above rendered as a vintage postcard.

Altar (坛​) in a home said to be at or near the birthplace (出生地)
of Master Xingyun (星云大师), Jiangdu, Jiangsu (江苏, 江都区)

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