Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

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FromTheEarth
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Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:15 pm

Hello everyone,
Brief self-introduction: I'm a Chinese Buddhist and currently studying in the U.S. This year is the third consecutive year I've paid a pilgrimage visit to the Tiantai Mountain, where Ven. Zhiyi practiced and educated his disciples and where the Tiantai/Tendai School got its name. Before my visit this year, I thought it should be a good idea to offer the new English translation of Mohezhiguan by Dr. Swanson to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa, as an act of reverence and also a prayer for the school and all sentient beings. So I did.
Nevertheless, right before my trip initially planned, my father has suddenly passed away due to a severe stroke. So when I went to Tiantai as well as the nearby Mount Putuo (the Potalaka mountain, supposedly the bodhimanda of Arya-avalokitesvara), I mainly offered pujas to the monasteries, asked the monks to perform rituals for my father, and prayed for him, with no time or mood taking pictures. So here are the pictures I took three years ago in my first trip. I hope this could become a nice chance for all Tendai/Tiantai practitioners to know how Tiantai looks like today.
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At the botton of Tiantai Mountain, where you can see traditional Chinese paddy fields, which are mainly owned by the Guoqing Monastery. Since the fields are preserved not for economic gains, they still maintain the traditional techniques and raise water buffalos to plow the land.
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There are many calligraphy works carved on stele on the way to Guoqing Monastery. The above is originally written by the Japanese Tendai leader 半田孝淳 Ven. Kōjun Handa in 2008, on the occasion of the 1200th anniversary of the establishment of Japanese Tendai School. The phrase basically means "(May) The Tiantai/Tendai School be spread and inherited forever."
*To be continued due to the limitation of attachments.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:34 pm

The first station is Guoqing Monastery. It's established according to Ven. Zhiyi (Master Zhizhe)'s last will, and is considered to be THE Tiantai monastery, the core of Tiantai School, in China. The wiki entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guoqing_Temple should be helpful for the Western readers.
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The first thing you can discern from a far distance is the Pagoda constructed by the emperor in Sui Dynasty (581-618). When he was alive, Ven. Zhiyi acted as the emperor's acharya. The pagoda also appears in my first picture.
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You may also see the stupa of Ven. Yi Xing before you entered the Guoqing Monastery. From the secular point of view, he was the one of most excellent astronomers and mathematicians in ancient China. Commissioned by the Tang Empire, he created the Daiyan/Taien calendar. From the religious perspective, however, he was a very important Tiantai and Vajrayana practitioner. His commentary on the Mahavairocana Tantra is a very well-known work in China and Japan.
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The stone stupas for the Seven Buddhas of the past.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:56 pm

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Outside the monastery, there are two famous screen walls, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_screen. This one 教觀總持 roughly means "(Buddhist) doctrines and practices completely held", which is a praise to Ven. Zhiyi and the Tiantai School saying that the Tiantai system is the most complete and organized Buddhist doctrinal and practice system.
Moreover, if a monk nowadays is ordained as the Tiantai patriarch, he would be granted exactly these four characters as his title within the Tiantai School.
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This one simply means "Ancient Temple since Sui Dynasty."
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Before one steps into the gate of the monastery, one has to cross a bridge above a creek. One interesting story: there once was a prophecy that when Ven. Yi Xing, the astronomer and vajrayana commentator, came, the flow direction of the creek would reverse. And when he actually came, due to a sudden rainfall and flood in the downstream, the water actually flowed toward the west (in contrast to its original direction).

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:14 pm

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A stela "When Yixing comes, the water would run to the west."
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The front gate of Guoqing Monastery. 國清 Guoqing, which literally means "the Country (or this Saha world) becomes pure" 講Lecture 寺 Monastery/Temple.
It is interesting that most Tiantai monasteries in China would contain a 講 Lecture in their names. This is mainly because the Tiantai tradition is characterized as peculiarly specialized in interpreting the Buddhist doctrines and giving lectures. Almost all Zen/Chan and Pureland masters today use Tiantai commentaries as textbooks or standard references when they try to lecture on a sutra.
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Entering into the inner gate.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by Seishin » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:23 pm

Thank you for these amazing photos and my sincere condolences for the loss of your father

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:35 pm

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The inner gate. "Guoqing Monastery." Entering into this building, you may see the statutes of Boddhisattva Maitreya and Weituo, and two other guardian deities of Buddhism.
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Yuhua Hall or the Hall of Flowers raining down from the Heaven. This hall is actually equivalent to the Hall of Heavenly Kings in other Chinese temples. Inside, the four heavenly kings are worshiped as guardians of Buddhism.
The name of the hall is unique because when Ven. Guanding (the most important disciple of Ven. Zhiyi; he recorded and edited all Ven. Zhiyi's oral teachings and without him, works such as the Mohe Zhiguan would never be transmitted to us) preached on the Lotus Sutra, the heavenly deities were so moved by his teaching that they rained down flowers from the heaven as their offerings.
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Stepping toward the Main Hall.
Attachments
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Last edited by FromTheEarth on Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:47 pm

Seishin wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:23 pm
Thank you for these amazing photos and my sincere condolences for the loss of your father
Namo Amitabha. Thanks!
The only thing I can do for him now perhaps is to bring more joy to others, including sharing this journey with people interested in the Tiantai tradition (ง •̀_•́)ง.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Wed Aug 08, 2018 10:00 pm

In the Main Hall:
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Buddha Sakyamuni with Ven. Ananda and Ven. Kasyapaya.
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Bodhisattva Samantabhadra/Universal Worthy, with his six-teeth white elephant.
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Bodhisattva Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of wisdom, with his blue lion.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Wed Aug 08, 2018 10:11 pm

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Also in the Main Hall: Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, on the back side of Buddha's statute.
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This is another hall. It is dedicated mainly to Ven. Zhiyi, and also to the patriarchs of the Tiantai School and to those monks who once played an important role in the history of the Guoqing monastery.
The statute is Ven. Zhiyi's.
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The Chinese plum tree prunus mume planted by Ven. Guanding, the disciple of Ven. Zhiyi and the recorder of Zhiyi's teaching. This tree is one of the most famous elements of the monastery: it is more than 1,300 years old; it has survived the Cultural Revolution; and it still blossoms and drops plums almost every year.

To be continued.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by kukechu » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:15 am

Thank you. 🙏 I presented a copy of my provisional translation of the first four fascicles of the Mohizhuguan on CD-ROM to the head priest many years ago, but I’m delighted to hear that a copy of the full translation is now in Zhiyi’s hands. (PLS)

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by Queequeg » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:48 pm

I'm sorry for your loss.

How fortunate for your father to have such a son (?).

Thank you for making an offering of the translation of Mohezhikuan. Now we can reflect that Master Zhiyi reads in translation with us!

And thank you for these pictures and explanations.

:anjali:
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:33 pm

Thank you all! I feel so glad and fortunate to meet you the friends of dharma!

And especially my most sincere gratitude and honor to you, Dr. Swanson. Partly for your making the such masterpieces of Buddhist teaching available to the Western world. But also for the benefits you bring to us contemporary Chinese Buddhists. For Mohezhiguan et al. are sophisticated works that even senior monks and scholars find hard to fully master. This refined, clear and well-annotated translation is surely the most helpful for the Chinese readers as well.
Also my gratitude to you for editing the Pruning the Bodhi Tree. I've benefited so much from its Chinese translation since many years ago. Never thought there could be such an opportunity to say thanks to you in person.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:40 pm

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The Hall of Medicine Buddha (Bhaisajya-guru).
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View of the Sui Pagoda from the back of the Main Hall.
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The Japanese Pavilion. Inside are three stelae in memory of Master. Saichō, the founder of the Japanese Tendai School, and his study experience at Guoqing Monastery.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:44 pm

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The stela dedicated to Ven. Zhiyi.
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The stela in memory of Saicho's study experience here.
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The stela of the farewell poem given to Saicho by his teacher.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:00 pm

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The Stupa/Monument established by the Japanese Nichiren-shū, with Namu-myōhō-renge-kyō 南無妙法蓮華經 on the facade.
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Gathas from the Lotus Sutra on the other sides.
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The Hall in memory of the Sino-Korean Tiantai lineage. In the middle is the statute of Ven. Zhiyi and the two aside are the Korean masters who founded and revived(?) the Korean Tiantai tradition.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:05 pm

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Stelae dedicated to Ven. Sangwol Wongak, Ven. Zhiyi, and Ven. Uicheon (from the left).
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The Hall of Avalokitesvara.
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Another recently-constructed Hall of Ven. Zhiyi. Tourists are not allowed to enter so I only took a picture from the outside.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:11 pm

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A bas relief of Ven. Zhiyi's calligraphy. 說妙法藏 basically means "propagating the kośa of the sublime dharma."
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A corner of the monastery.
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On the path to Zhiyi's Stupa.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:25 pm

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The front-gate of the monastery where Zhiyi's stupa is located. 智者塔院 = The Court of Zhizhe (Wise-man, a title given to Zhiyi by the emperor)'s Stupa.
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The next gate. Also the 智者塔院.
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The Hall of Zhiyi's Stupa. 智者肉身塔 = Zhizhe/Zhiyi's flesh-body Stupa.
Alas, we know that the stupa has been destroyed during the wars and the revolutions. And it's well-known that Zhiyi's original body hasn't been found in the stupa for many years. In an ancient story, not very long time after Zhiyi's death, people already found that his body had miraculously disappeared from the stupa. And hundreds years later, some people would still encounter the master on the Tiantai mountain.
Nevertheless, generally, historical and contemporary Tiantai practitioners believe that Ven. Zhiyi is always present in this place. And the place is of the supreme significance to all Chinese Tiantai practitioners.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:41 pm

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The Stupa. 東土釋迦 = The Sakyamuni in the Eastern Land. Ven. Zhiyi is widely considered to be equivalent to the Buddha in terms of his wisdom. Also, some Chinese Buddhists actually believe that he was one incarnation of the Buddha.
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In the hall, behind the stupa are paintings of historical Tiantai patriarchs. The above 靈山未散 means "the Dharma Gathering on the Vulture Peak Mountain has not been dismissed," in accordance with Ven. Zhiyi's meditation experience that he once came to the Vulture Peak and found the Lotus Sutra Gathering was still going on.
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法門鎖鑰, the keys to the locks of the Dharma doors, in praise of Ven. Zhiyi's wisdom.

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Re: Pilgrimage to Tiantai Mountain &Offering the Eng trans of MoheZhiguan to Ven. Zhiyi's Stupa)

Post by FromTheEarth » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:56 pm

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Another picture of the stupa.
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Out of the main yard, there is another screen wall. The 即是靈山 “Here is the Vulture Peak” was written by the famous charismatic monk 印光 Yin'guang who preached the Pureland School in modern China. My impression is that Yin'guang is mainly responsible the wide acceptance of the belief that Ven. Zhiyi was one incarnation of Gautama Buddha.
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The Stupa-court also functions as a monastery that administratively belongs to the Guoqing monastery. Around a dozen of monks lived here. Therefore, this place is also called 真覺講寺 True Enlightenment Lecture Monastery.

Some additional info:
The stupa is located on the mountain, about 2 to 4 hours on foot from the Guoqing Temple. Rarely could you get there without a car.
The size of the stupa/court/monastery is also super-tiny. Besides the hall dedicated to Ven. Zhiyi's stupa, there is no other hall dedicated to buddhas, boddhisattvas etc. Neither is there any Buddha statute in the hall. So in most cases, tourists don't even know there is such a place existing.

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