Buddha of Chains

How Does it Feel

I walked into the Buddha Tooth Relic Shrine to find a sea of Buddha’s covering the walls. To say thousands of statues might be underestimating. Within all of the chaos, the chants, bells, people and prayers, this single Buddha stood out to me, a beacon. It was small, perhaps 8-12 inches, but nothing in the huge hall shone brighter. Perhaps a divine message.

My goal here is to bring you photos that evoke how a place felt. I try and recall back my mood and experience, the sights and smells, the passion, the pain. Most of the time I feel I fail utterly, this time…this time I pray you feel this statues power too.

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Buddha Tooth Relic Shrine


If you haven’t noticed I tend to visit quite a number of churches, temples and shrines on my travels. I love seeing how other cultures look at religion; how they react to their faith. I have a personal soft spot for Buddhism, for no particular reason, it just speaks to me in a different way than western religions. Something seems to draw me to the East, but alas my patience is poor which is no excuse. Today’s photo is where I entered the shrine. What I found inside was interesting and not unlike other Buddhist shrines. Except upstairs.

The Reliquary Room

On the upper floor of the shrine (you would miss the elevator if you weren’t looking) is a reliquary made of gold purported to contain a fragment of one of the Buddha’s canine teeth. It was rescued from his funeral pyre. I don’t know it the is true, but there is an eternal quality that surrounds the space. I sat for a long time and listened to the monk’s chants of blessings. People knelt, he blessed them. I didn’t ask for a blessing; I know not why. I pondered the place for a very long time sitting silently on a meditation cushion in full lotus. Perhaps if you are ever in the area … stop by, I would love to talk to someone else about their experience.

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An Offering at Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong

Man Mo Alter

I have never professed to know exactly what is going on in Buddhist Temples. There is praying of course and offerings, but exactly what transpires is a bit of a mystery. Just after taking this photo of some kind of offering on one of the alters a woman started yelling at me and shooing me away. I think she thought I was taking photos of the worshipers (which I was not out of respect), but still, this was the last think I photographed in the very small Hong Kong temple!

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Reclining Buddha of Wat Pho

Expectations are Useless

I often roll my eyes at people when they share their expectations of a place with me. Aren’t the people in Paris rude? No they aren’t if you respect their culture. Isn’t Argentina really poor? They have an host of economic problems as do we…they also have poor people and some that are quite wealthy. Despite my somewhat uppity attitude towards those untraveled…I myself constantly find my expectations blown out of the water. Bangkok was a surprisingly modern city…cue the roll of my eyes at myself.

Wat Pho

During my short (and extremely hot) time in Bangkok, I visited Wat Pho and the surrounding area. I had hands down the BEST Thai food I have ever had from a street vendor and I saw the largest reclining Buddha in the world. From the photo it almost looks like I am looking down on this shrine…I assure you, I was looking (way) up. As impressive as the Buddha was in shear size, I loved the detail work all around the temple almost as much.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 23 March, 2014
  • Focal length: 28mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s

Jing’an Temple Shrine

Today’s Photo – A Personal Shrine

Jing’an Temple is a vast place full of monks, Buddhist practitioners (laypeople) and tourists alike and finding privacy must be next to impossible. One of the things that I found interesting is the large number of spaces for worship. I don’t profess to understand all the in’s and out’s of Buddhism, but this Jing’an Temple shrine seems to be made for an intimate bit of prayer. I arrived early in the day and was lucky to capture the temple with few visitors.

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Jing’an Temple Courtyard Shanghai China

Today’s Photo – Old Meets New

I have said it many times before, but I absolutely love contrasts. Ares of harmony that flow, even though they should fight each other. The Jing’an Temple Courtyard is one of these sorts of contrasts. You can see in this one view how the new Shanghai has erupted and almost taken over this nearly 2000 year old Buddhist Temple, but somehow it all works. It seemed to me this is one of the truths of modern day China and perhaps one of it’s great strengths.

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The Big Buddha of Po Lin Monastery in Hong Kong

Po Lin Monastery is Way Up the Mountain

I am a bit afraid of heights and Po Lin Monastery is enshrouded in the clouds that surround the mountains of Lantau Island in Hong Kong. There are only a few ways to get to Ngong Ping, the “Traditional-Style Village” just outside Po Lin Monastery (complete with Starbucks and a place to buy sunglasses and flip-flops). The first is to hike…this takes hours. The second is the travel by bus…this seems boring. The third is by cable car…we chose the latter. I don’t have a recent memory of being so tense while seated. I actually felt better when our view was totally blocked by the clouds.

The Big Buddha

The Big Buddha, also known as Tian Tan Buddha, is immense and impressive. It’s beauty completely makes up for the commercial bit of awfulness that is Ngong Ping Village. The site is teaming with people and during our visit there was a service with monks circumambulating around the base of the statue in a clock-wise manner while chanting and singing.

Byodo-In Temple Offering

Peaceful Offering

Honolulu is a city of hustle and bustle. I hope to ho back and explore some more next year, but in a big city, sometimes you want to get away from all the movement. You want some peace from all the go. You drive to The Valley of the Temples and visit Byodo-In Temple. This is a replica of a Buddhist Temple in Kyoto Japan. This particular temple is non-denominational and everyone is invited to visit. I sat quietly for some time beneath the 9 foot tall wooden Buddha. People came and went. It is a lovely location.

Tiny Buddha

This little Buddha statue was collecting offerings in the gardens in front of Byodo-In Temple. I almost missed him if not for another photographer lying on the ground to take his picture. Sir, I say thank you.