Temples and Other Places of Worship

I went to the Jade Buddha Temple this afternoon … spent the morning at the International Post Office sending kilos of art books to myself and some interesting bits and pieces I picked up in the old Chinese quarter around the Yuyuan Gardens and Tea House, close to the Town Temple… tiny little Tibetan boots, paper cuts, chops (stamps/seals) and even the odd Mao t-shirt (during a moment of weakness)

As you may be aware, Buddhist temples face north; so the front gate is located in the south of the complex. The first shrine ‘Maittreya Buddha’ faces outwards – this ‘future’ Buddha is happy & chubby. (just like a couple of special people I know)

Next there is usually a ‘Wei Tuo Bodhisattva’ a fairly grim looking figure holding a ‘vajra’ (looks like a stylized thunder bolt) he faces the monastery and is the protector of the Buddha

Then the main shrine housing the ‘Buddha Sakyamuni’ resplendent with gold and red banners, knee stools covered with embroidered cushions (for praying) and offering of oranges, mandarins, pomegranates and other auspicious gifts…

To the side you will often find ’Guanyin Bodhisattva’ who represents compassion (a personal favourite of mine), I tend to spend more time here

At the Jade Buddha Temple I selected three sticks of red incense (for Frank, Liz and Timna) – which I lit from large ‘dings’ in the courtyard and then held as I bowed three times to the north, west, south and east…

It makes me smile every time…

I tied a red ribbon to the temple doors for my family (love you tom!) and thought of peace, compassion and generosity of spirit…

(The entire courtyard area is covered in red ribbons, fluttering from the trees adorning the stone lions and covering the lattice doors and gateways)

During my period of quiet contemplation I watched an elderly woman gathering pieces of fallen incense and placing them in two small brass bowls; she must have been over 80 years old because she had tiny feet which had been bound (this was banned in the 1920’s) and when she rose (unfolded) to her height of 4 foot she beamed the most beautiful smile at me and I couldn’t help wondering about the changes she had seen in this ‘great’ city of Shanghai…

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