Posts tagged “Beijing Temples

Temple Roof Detail and Mountains

Temple Roof Detail and MountainsOne of the things I’ve missed in Nanning (as those who’ve already seen
the Hong Kong photos, which appear below this large batch of Beijing
photos, know) is places where I can get into nature, and away from
people. I’ve missed the downtime and quiet that comes from being
surrounded by trees. So after spending all day Saturday walking the
buildings and palaces of central Beijing with our Head of Mission (who
happened to be in Beijing after meetings with MSF-B and before heading
back to Paris for a further week+ of meetings related to our annual
general assembly), I spent my Sunday at a gorgeous park in the far
northwest corner of Beijing, really outside the urban area in the
hills well beyond the fringe � though it’s part of Beijing
administratively. I went for two reasons, 1) My guidebook told me I’d
find, near the entrance, a unique pay-what-your-spirit-calls-for
vegetarian buffet restaurant, and 2) The park sounded lovely and very
enjoyable. Though I spent about an hour searching for the restaurant
(it sounded so good � the dishes are supposed to change every day, and
range widely over different cuisines�yum), I never found it and
actually went rather hungry that day� But it was SO worth it since the
park is really lovely.I got a great hike, plenty of quality time with myself to ponder plans
and the meaning of life and so on. I came into this week, and I pass
on into June, feeling very refreshed by these two weekends out of
town. I’m excited and eager to explore Nanning some more — on my run
this morning, I saw so many things I want to write about here, and
take pictures of. What you’ve seen so far are largely shots that show
the developed and lovely side of China. But when I go for my run by
the river in the morning I see such contrasts between swank new
buildings going up, and folks living in little tin shacks surrounded
by mud and chickens. It’s really quite fascinating, and I hope to get
some photos up for you soon so you don’t get the idea this park and
the shots of Hong Kong, or of Nanhu Park earlier, are all we’ve got
here in China. There are great contrasts here.

But for now: enjoy some shots of a lovely park outside Beijing!

Temple Building

Temple BuildingI’ve lost track, but I think overall there must be at least 15
buildings, ranging from ornate and elegant buildings like this one, to
small gazebos set beside reflecting pools or walking paths. Inside
some of them are large statues of Buddhas and Boddhisatvas; inside one
of them are literally hundreds of different versions of (I think)
Buddha. For those who don’t know and are interested: there’s only one
Buddha, but he’s portrayed in many ways in the Chinese approach to
Buddhism. I think. There are several Boddhisatvas, people have
attained enlightenment but then, rather than passing into nirvana and
leaving our human plain of existence, choose to remain with us to help
other humans attain enlightenment. Please correct me, via e-mail or
comments posted here or both, if I’m wrong; I’m going from a
(excellent) class on Buddhism at Oberlin 20 years ago, so my details
may be wrong. Part of what interests me about Chinese Buddhism is
that, like some of the approaches you see toward Catholicism in Latin
America, there’s really a great deal of syncretism going on —
elements incorporated into Buddhism here that come from other Chinese
folk, religious, or philosophical traditions and that are not
represented in other strains of Buddhism. Dialogue welcome on this
topic in comments section!

Senior Citizens at the Temple

Senior Citizens at the TempleAs I was heading down and out of the temple complex (and back to the
main park), I saw a rather large tour group of what were clearly
senior citizens from one of China’s minority groups — without any
real basis or knowledge, I’m sort of guessing Tibetan maybe? In the
group were a number of truly interesting women and men, faces
weathered and lined, who really made me wonder what their life stories
would be if I could ask. Given my camera equipment and my reluctance
to intrude on the practice of their religion, I didn’t take any
frontal pictures of them kneeling and bowing as they faced the
statues, but I thought this shot would give you a sense. It’s nice to
know a group like this can freely visit the temple and worship…I
suspect twenty-five years ago, let alone 40 years ago, that would have
been difficult or impossible.

Skyline With Buddhas

Skyline With BuddhasThis is the first of two views of the Beijing skyline (assuming these
photos post in the order I hope). Though a small portion of the temple
has been given over to a museum and monument to Sun Yatsen, including
portions of the complex from which this photo was shot, overall much
of the temple is an active temple today — as you saw in the previous
shot of older folks visiting the temple. In light of the many
challenges to the practice of religion that China has seen, especially
during the 60s and 70s (which are referred to, somewhat obliquely, in
the signs at the entrance to the temple complex — they refer to
“destruction” or destructive acts of the temple during something along
the lines of “unrest during the 60s” or some such), I was cheered to
see many people actively worshiping at these buildings, including some
who bowed or saluted these Buddhas and Boddhisatvas.