In my second post in this series, I talked about my earliest memories of how Kuan Yin came to me. So for this post, I thought I’d write about my memory of going to a Kuan Yin temple in China.
I had signed up to study in Chengdu a few years ago. I knew that for the few weeks I’d be there, I would have some time off during the weekends. So I looked on the internet to see if there were any Kuan Yin temples near Chengdu. I knew I would be too far from Mount Putuo Island to go there since it’s over a thousand miles from Chengdu. Lo and behold I found a reference to one showing a picture of the gate and a description of where it was. It was located about 30 miles southwest of where I would be staying. I was determined to find it.
It’s important to note that I don’t speak Chinese. We had interpreters for our classes in Chengdu. The leader of our trip helped me figure out what buses I’d need to take there. So he wrote out the name of the temple and where it was. Presumably I’d just have to show it to someone at the bus station and I’d find my way. I felt a little like Paddington Bear and the directions were the note “Please look after this bear.”
Then, one of the people on the trip with me generously offered to hire a car to take us there. He was staying at a hotel where he could hire a limo. So, the other woman on our trip and I took a cab to his hotel. The three of us got into the limo and none of us spoke Chinese. The driver didn’t speak English but he had been given directions.
Soon we were on our way to the temple. On the drive there, it became clear to me if I had gone by myself, I would have been completely lost. The temple was a fair bit out of town, along a dirt road. Had I taken a bus there, I would have struggled to find a taxi.
But we made it! I think we got there right before they had closed everything up for lunch time for a few hours. Our timing was perfect. As it was, there were many levels of the temple to climb to reach the top where the big Kuan Yin statue was in a hall by herself.
My Kuan Yin tattoo was pretty new at that point. I think I’d only had it a few months. It seems silly now but I kind of wanted to show it to her, to prove my devotion. By the time I climbed up to the last hall, I didn’t need to show her. I knew she could see it.
I didn’t take any pictures inside the halls of the temple. I don’t recall if it wasn’t permitted and/or if it just wasn’t done out of respect. So my photos, some of which you have seen in these posts already, were all take on the outside. But I still remember seeing Kuan Yin in the big hall. I remember all the panels depicting her doing various things – stories I hadn’t heard of before with lightning and gleaming swords. I still need to find all of those!
It was a journey made possible by the kindness of one person. I don’t know if he realizes how much it meant to me, even though I thanked him profusely. Someday maybe I’ll get to Mount Putuo Island but for now, I have the memory of my journey to see Kuan Yin almost three years ago.
Note: This series was inspired by the Month of Written Devotion idea. If you want to participate, go there for the list of daily prompts.