Sunday, January 08, 2012

I hope it's not a Buddhist Theme Park they have in mind...

LUOYANG, Henan - "It's unusual to see exotic Buddhist buildings at such an ancient Chinese temple. They're so delicate and look so different from the traditional Chinese temples next to them," said Tang Chan, a 22-year-old college student, looking at the Indian shrine at Baima Temple.
The Baima Temple - White Horse Temple - aspires to be not only the oldest, but also the largest and most international Buddhist temple in China.
Henan province, in Central China, has approved a plan to expand and renovate the temple into a 1,300 mu (87 hectare) cultural park over eight years, the largest in China by then. It currently covers 20 hectares.
The almost 2,000-year-old temple is creating an International Temples Zone to showcase 10 exotic shrines from foreign countries, said Wang Xiaohui, director of the religious affairs bureau in Luoyang, where the temple is located.
The Indian shrine opened in May 2010. A Thai shrine built in the 1990s is being expanded and will open in April. 

In case you don't know, Baima temple -  白馬時 - or Hakubaji in Japanese- or White Horse Temple - is a famed temple that is said to be the first (or one of the first) Buddhist temple(s) in all of China.   When I had visited there last summer, I had actually seen the Thai and Burmese shrines there, but it was the "Chinese stuff" about the temple that kept my attention e.g., the place where the Sutra in Forty Two Sections - the first sutra said to have been translated into Chinese - was translated.  The Sutra in Forty Two Sections was also the first sutra translated into English by D.T. Suzuki around about the time when he went to the US with Soen Shaku.

Now in reality it won't be like Buddhist Disneyland - I mean, when you're there its obvious you're among antiquity that predates Hagia Sophia in Istanbul so anything they add will look pasted on. And probably they'll want to keep some kind of Chinese feel to the overall place anyway - it is China, after all.

But despite the impermanence of everything, I don't see the point of speeding up the inevitable.

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