The History

“Guru, why are you still working so hard”, I asked.

“Because of love”, he whispered.

The Xilai Temple was built in the Northern Wei dynasty around 460 to 495. It was one of the first few royal monastery temples built on the Wutai Mountain. It is founded around a natural spring. The water source is from the spring that comes from underground. Even though the water is always really chilly, it gives a warmth when you drink it. The sweetness and freshness from the spring add to the water to become more flavorful. Imagine a hot day, being exhausted from hiking and yearning for a taste of the fresh water. You find the spring and use your hands as a cup to drink the water. There is a strong primal essence to the whole experience. There could be nothing more you wanted for your life. The temple welcomed many for thousands of years than disaster struck.

From the historical records, there used to be hundreds of meditation rooms and the temple used to be one of the biggest on the mountain. However, during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the temple was set on fire and things were stolen from the temple by the closest villages. The only thing left was things they cannot burn or take away. When my guru first came to this temple, there was nothing left, but three caves filled with cow manure. It was a snowy day when guru went on the mountain. Everything is covered by snow and there is no one around to help. Suddenly, guru fell into a snow hole, which was later known to be the broken roof of the cave. Guru struggled out from the snow trap and finally realized this is the place he was looking for. Guru started the whole construction of the temple with only two hands and no help. Guru processed a persistent strength to rebuild a whole temple by himself. The devotion and determination of the guru for Buddhism and the path to enlightenment always move me.

The closest village from the temple is about an hour away by foot. You have to hike down from the mountain and there is no road to walk on besides a muddy pathway. Guru has to get down to the village every month to fetch for food. After shoveling all the cow manure out of the caves, it becomes the place guru lives.

I remember that the temple wasn’t as popular four years ago. We gather up in the cave every night and guru will tell us stories and we all sit around him like a family. Guru had a really good sense of humor and the teachings are always joined with the stories. A story that has impacted me was the story of the dragon. Up above the caves, there is a special rock with a mark from the dragon. It might sound like a fairy tale, but look at this picture. The giant rock was stepped in and another story behind this is even more mysterious. The temple is located at the palace for the dragon family. Once, a Buddhism god, Manjushri, came to this place and thought it would be good for people to study here. The dragon family refused to share their place with humans and so began a war. The dragon finally got defeated and become the guard for the temple. However, the history of the war has been documented on the rock.

Those are the happiest memories of my life. I am always the first one waiting in the cave for guru and everyone to come. It is the simplest happiness and the most valuable one. It is the happiness that you could learn something every day. It is the happiness that when you wake up, you are still alive and a beautiful day is yet to come. It is the happiness when you know you are walking towards the light.

One Comment

  1. oab6

    This was really wonderful to read! I really like this topic about historical Buddhist practices and how your guru was inspired to learn more and lead others towards the path of enlightenment. This is really unique! I enjoyed how you explained some of the history carved into that temple. Introducing that context into your blog posts is important for readers in understanding the awesome experiences you’ve had. The photos you include help describe this place in more detail, too. This is also important because this type of topic relies heavily on background information that is needed to fully understand the experience. I like how you ended with the description of you having these happy memories and how they have impacted you immensely.

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