The day began with a lesson in Chi Gong by Hiutung Chan for a group of us who are interested in learning the practice. We stood alongside the most beautiful outdoor labyrinth I’ve ever seen and exercised our imaginations and bodies as Hiutung led us through two of the eight styles of Chi Gong.
Our first adventure of the day was to Ngong Ping 360 on Lantau Island (home of the Giant Buddha). We traveled first by bus and then by cable car. The bi-cable we hung from in glass “cabins” runs for 5.7km (approx 3.5 miles) over Tung Chung Bay and a series of gorgeous green mountains. We will be uploading lots of photos when we return from our trip. For now if you wish to see the Giant Buddha or other attractions of Lantau Island you can go to http://www.np360.com.hk/html/eng/lantau/po-lin.html?4#back.
The first great ascension of our day was on the cable car. The second was up 268 steps where the Giant Buddha sits 34 meters high and is surrounded by six beautiful bronze statues of devas presenting offerings to the Buddha; all of which symbolize characteristics or values of Buddhism.
We were blessed with the freedom to “walk with the Buddha” at our own pace and with our own intentions. The weather was beautiful, the photo opps were plentiful and our energy was ripe for blessings. There was a lot of playfulness (and maybe even a little rambunctiousness) among members of the group during our morning adventures.
After lunch we visited a Buddhist Temple and it was like entering another world. The beauty of the Chinese architecture, the incredible hospitality shown us, and the joyful presence of the Abbot (head of the monastery) was overwhelming. I suddenly found myself capable of no other state but reverence.
Our friend Hiutung had a long afternoon serving as interpreter between the monks and our group – we thank you, Hiutung! We learned about the monastic life of the monks, the Sutra stories expressed in murals on the walls of the Temple; and then so much more when we sat down around a large table with the Abbot and the founder/Dharma Teacher of the Temple for tea, a most delicious fresh fruit salad, and a question and answer session.
|Hiutung and the Abbot communicating with us.|
The founder is 85 years old and has been a monk since he was 12! We were blessed to hear him chant (as chanting is the primary practice for the monks at this temple) and to learn of the remarkable accomplishments of this humble man. Among other things worthy of mention, he founded the Interfaith Forum in Hong Kong which engages 6 religions. Buddhists believe in interdependence; that without help from other sentient beings we cannot survive.
I realized at the end of the long, full day that the Buddhists weren’t the only energy force in the universe reminding us of the beautiful truth that we are interdependent beings. We as a group have been relying on each other from the beginning – whether to survive travel related phobias; to be woken up in time for breakfast; to meet a dietary or other need; to order food in a Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong…the list goes on. The most profound reminder though was the experience three of us shared during our free time this evening. We decided to visit a bi-lingual, open meeting of the 12 step program of AA. Testimonies of experience, strength and hope were shared; sobriety for addicts made possible by admission of the truth that without help from each other, we cannot survive.
Now for the blessing of sleep...