Saturday, April 16, 2016

佛光山 - Buddha's Light Mountain

佛光山 - Fo Guan Buddhist Monastery

Fo Guang Shan (佛光山) is the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. The name literally means "Buddha's Light Mountain." The monastery's webpage says that they have 25,000 visitors daily, with people from all over Asia travelling to visit. It's only about a forty five minute scooter drive from Kaohsiung City.

The first building, pictured above, is mostly filled with souvenir shops as well as restaurants. They even have a Starbucks.  

The main building, with the Buddha on top, feels like Disney World but with Buddha. Inside are different corridors to walk down to learn about the religion, Buddhist history, a museum for old artifacts, and many fancy places for worship. Unfortunately those areas were off limits for photography. Everything is decorated with bright lights and beautiful displays. Many people will buy incense sticks or other items to present before the idols in the different rooms used for worship. It may have a theme park feel to it, but this is a real place where people take worship very seriously, so they do ask you to be respectful.  Some places we weren't even able to observe. The caretakers wanted us to enter and be apart of worship or leave that specific area.

On top of the main building are four pagodas. Inside of each one is a golden Buddha. There is a monk inside each pagoda assisting guests with worship or in our case, answering questions. We had one monk offer to help us make a wish (after she asked if Anne Marie was French) but after declining, we were able to talk to her a little bit about our beliefs. Situations like these always push us to study harder so that we can have more meaningful conversations in Chinese.  

Their Official Webpage

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