Without light there is no life

The things my eyes have seen today! 

Some members of #teamvuvu and I took a road trip to Bronkhorstspruit, about one hours’ drive outside of Johannesburg to visit the Nan Hua Temple.  I couldn’t believe I was still in South Africa when we arrived and were met by a magnificent Chinese Temple like straight out of a picture book.

You can spot the colossal Buddhist shrines from the N1 highway, it’s literally the pinnacle point of this little town.  We met up with our tour guide, Sipho, who showed us around and shared with us the Buddhist culture and religion.

Peace and happiness

The first shrine we went to was called the “Great Hero Hall”. As Sipho explains, parts of the building and elaborate sculptures were all shipped-in from China and assembled here in South Africa. What a task that must have been.

We took our shoes off and entered through large wooden doors that overwhelm you slightly when you stand next to them.

In the Buddhist religion, taking off your shoes before you enter a temple is a sign of respect. Respect for yourself and respect for the shrine. They also believe that when you touch the floor of any shrine, you will be purified.

“The shoes which we wear kill living things each day, some of them unseen and some of them seen like ants. So when you go inside you cannot be purified if you are wearing shoes. You take them off so you can be blessed,” Sipho explained.

Enlightenment 

We were not allowed to take pictures inside so I’m going to have to try my best at explaining it to you.

-Three massive wooden Buddha’s sit in a row against the back wall, they are called the “Triple Gem Buddhas”. Standing at 25 meters tall they would seem quite fearsome if they weren’t smiling.

According to the religion, Buddha was a prince, born in India about 2600 years ago. Buddha means “The enlightened one,” which refers to the awakening of the mind.

The Buddha on the far left holds a lotus flower in his hand with his other hand resting on his knee, middle finger touching thumb, representing “peace and happiness”. He is called Amitabha Buddah and provides longlivity, wisdom, aspirations and endless light.

In the middle is Sakyamuni Buddha, the teacher who brings endless joy to all beings.

Then on the right-hand side is the Medicine Buddha, who provides good health to those who make offerings and give praise. In his hand is a round golden ball.

There’s a difference

Carlo, a student monk demonstrated how the “echo drum” and the “wooden fish” is played.

“There is something special about this fish. Fish never sleep, fish is very mindful, so that is why they use the fish. When you chant, your mind has to be mindful,” said Sipho.

The temple is a little different to the original ones in China in that it has been “spiced up” with some African murals and sculptures in its’ architecture. There are African “heroes” sculpted along wooded cupboards of the temple; the painting on the ceiling has been adorned with images of the South African Protea and above the Buddha’s is a roof made of thatch, which is unique to South Africa.

The reason for mixing the Chinese culture with African culture is to show the Buddhist way of embracing different cultures, said Master/Ven Hui Xing, one of the monks we got to interview.

Free the mind and body1377222_558610370876723_868083804_n

According to the brochure, the temple is home to the South African branch for the Humanistic Buddhist Order who has made it their mission to spread Humanistic Buddhism to all continents.

My fortune message from the temple read: “Aspiration increases esteem. Communication improves harmony.”

Master Xing also gave each of us a Chinese charm that had Chinese message inscribed on it: “The wish for the body and mind to be free”.

Follow my journey so far

Click on the links to view previous posts from my in-depth journalism project on the theme: China in Johannesburg. 

Advertisements