Monday, May 12, 2008

Comparative Religion

Here are a few more random pieces of our adventure these last two days, in no particular order of importance.

We visited two different Buddhist temples here in Guangzhou, one yesterday and another today. Everybody was getting ready for a celebration of Buddha's birthday today. So people were bringing/buying offerings for the Buddha.

If you look closely you can see little pieces of paper inside the mouth of these dragons. These are prayers of the people for the Buddha. People also toss coins into the lip of the fountain, hoping that their wishes/prayers will be granted if the coins land and stay.

Incense offerings were EVERYWHERE, food offerings, peanut offerings, you name it.

Here is what you'd expect to see walking into the temple:
Here's what you might NOT expect to see as you walk into the temple and see the various offerings (I've circled it in white for you; the picture quality wasn't the greatest, sorry!):

That's right, folks. Diet Pepsi. To the left is an "orange offering" and to the right is an "apple offering." Smack dab in the middle is soda.

I guess even the oblations are modernized.

And what is young Dang Yong pointing to? No, not the Pepsi. My boy isn't into that sugary nonsense (...yet). No, he's noticed the fruit offering. Apples. He LOVES apples. He promptly threw a fit, wanting one of Buddha's pieces of fruit.

For a minute there, I thought he might pull a Mama and duck under the rope and pull one from the pile and start mawing. But we were able to distract him long enough to get outside the temple and stop by a fruit stand to get him his own.

Here's what it's like in the traditional Buddhist temples. It's as if you've stepped back in time to a simpler age, a life free of the trappings of modern society.

As you can see, here in China it is still "old world." Here the monks still adhere to the simple, monastic lifestyle, free of materialism and the decrepit consumerism that plagues the modern man:


In celebration of Buddha's birthday today, they burned the Shaolin Temple down.

At least it seemed like that's what they were doing, based on the dangerous levels of smoke we were breathing in as we walked through the courtyard. Everyone and their brother bought incense (many the size of bottle rockets).

It made both of us more than a little sad to see the huge mass of people worshipping something that they themselves don't understand and can't explain. Our guide said that the majority of the people shrug their shoulders when she asks them what this all means.
Oh, I forgot to show you.....this is what Jason called the "Christmas Tree of Buddhas" for sale. People (many people) buy their own buddha so they can worship at home and not have to come to the temple.

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