This week, I visited a local Buddhist temple with a group of women from my husband’s work. I had heard that the grounds were beautiful and I brought my kids along with me, thinking they would also enjoy walking the trails and seeing the sights. This turned out to be an error in judgment. When we arrived, a monk led us to room crammed full of a large collection of miniature, exceedingly fragile Buddhas brought by pilgrims from all over the world. There must have been over a thousand Buddhas in the small room, displayed on tables and shelves of every height and all over the floor. Indeed, the Dalai Lama himself apparently contributed one such miniature to the priceless collection. As soon as I entered the room and realized the dire nature of the situation, I immediately strapped my most dangerous liability to my back. In the meantime, my second-most-dangerous liability picked up his first Buddha and located a working gong. While I was rescuing the Buddha and quieting the gong, the toddler on my back got his fingers on his first Buddha. Throughout this stomach-sinking excitement, the elderly monk continued to excitedly call out the names of the Asian countries that had contributed various Buddhas to the collection (Myanmar! Cambodia! Tibet! Cambodia! Thailand! Tibet!) and snap photos of us with his camera phone.
After we extracted ourselves from the Chamber of Buddha Frangibility, I was relieved to discover that the rest of the temple grounds were beautiful and that the remaining 2,000 Buddhas outside the room were large and sturdy. There was an incident where my middle child (are you sensing a theme?) may or may not have partially dismantled the Pagoda of Unification, which looks like a pile of rocks, but is really a perpetually constructed structure comprised of stones brought by visitors from holy sites all over the world. But for the most part, we were all non-destructively amazed by the creativity of the various artists and sculptors and the beauty of the backdrop.
My photo this week shows both of those aspects. The temple sits in a valley between two large hills that are flooded with fall color. I took this photo at the entrance of the grounds, where visitors are welcomed by a koi pond lined with Buldu (Buddha heads).