If you live in southern Taiwan, there is a special place you should visit, no matter if you follow any religion or not. It is something more that just temples and monks. That place is Fo Guang Shan monastery, located about an hour ride by bus in direction north-east from Kaohsiung city.
I have been growing up in a society which is statistically Roman-Catholic in 95 percents. I am not very happy to admit that but have to say that Polish people are not very open-minded and tolerant to other worships and religions. This is one of the reasons why I want to learn as much as possible about Taiwanese customs and beliefs by visiting spots such as Fo Guang Shan.
The monastery is placed on a hill and it’s surrounded by walls. Whole area is impressive and there are enough attractions to stay there for at least half day.
My friends and I had a pleasure to meet a young Buddha monk at the main entrance just when we arrived to the monastery. He served to us as a guide for a next few hours. Answered countless number of our questions that could probably drive somebody else mad, but he was happy to explain everything to us and he did it with a smile on his face, what I really appreciate. Thank you Khedrup.
First thing that will visitor find exciting in Fo Guang Shan is an alley of hundreds white Buddha statues, arranged on both sides of the walk way. Every face and gesture is different, symbolizing a virtue or an attribute of Buddha. Later inside the monastery, cute and lovely figures of baby monks will be found in small gardens put between the temples and shrines.
All guests are treated with lunch which offers fantastic choice of vegetarian food, prepared accordingly to the old and special recipe, for centuries developed and improved by monks.
You should not leave Fo Guang Shan before you climb to the top of the hill where great and tall gold Buddha monument had been built. Believe me, you will be pleased with the scenery. Whole place is filled with beautiful plants, flowers, trees and spots like wishing ponds and bamboo forest, so do I need to tell you more to make you visit this extraordinary destination.
Hospitality of the people met in monastery is something really touching. Every visitor or pilgrim is welcomed and will not be refused a shelter. Most of the monks are eradiating with their smiles and friendly appearance. An atmosphere is peaceful and relaxed.
I would like to say that I’m not a Buddhist myself and most probably will never become but places such as Fo Guang Shan I always visit with highest respect, interest and pleasure.