Zen-in-Art
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Grand Gate & Water Wall
Stairway Gallery
Cosmic Totems
Tri-Virtue Square
Doors of Art
Four Upholding Pillars
Twin Dragons Holding Up One Jewel
Rosewood Corridor
Zen-in-Art
Grand Gate & Water Wall

Visiting Yuan-Dao Guanyin Temple, what comes into view first is the magnificent antique-feel “Grand Gate” and the refreshing “Water Wall” – both are out of Master Lee’s creativity.

The Grand Gate is adorned with the “Seal of Myriad Dharmas in Oneness (wanfa yuantong yin萬法圓通印)”– one of the four major seals of Forshang Buddhism. In height of 7.5 meters and 1500 kilograms in weight, the Grand Gate is supported by the pillars made of Belian wood, which is also referred to as “Borneo ironwood” due to its hardness, durability, density, and high resistances to water, worm attack, and rot.

As to the Water Wall on both side of the Grand Gate, there is a hidden mechanism. During the daytime, the transparency of the water as the fence opens the Temple to the outside world, rather than circumscribe it. The Water Wall,however, changes into stainless steel railings at the end of the day so as to guard the temple. Very genius design, aesthetic and functional!

Stairway Gallery

Stairway is often the ignored spot of a building. But here Master Lee designs it asan art gallery. With rosewood as the stairs and cast iron as the handrails, the Stairway Gallery exhibits Master Lee’s exclusively-developed “totemic energy art,” including:

“Bodhisattva Guanshiyin觀世音”
“Originality of Bodhisattva Guan Zi Zai本尊觀自在”
“The Mt. Wutai of the Supreme Huayan上品華嚴之五台山”
“Bodhisattva Guanyin with Thousand Hands觀音千手”
“Bodhisattva Wenshu with the Wisdom Sword文殊慧劍”
“Bodhisattva Dizang Is Buddha地藏成佛”
“Bodhisattva Puxian IsKing of Vows普賢願王”
“The Innate Buddha Light I自性佛光I ”
“Lotus-Born Mahasattva (Padmasambhava)蓮花生大士”
“Diamond Prajna.Wonders out of Emptiness金剛般若.空中妙有”
“The Eight-Arm Guanyin Bodhisattva八臂觀音”
“2029 Self-Portrait2029自畫像”
“The Totems of the Cosmos Deep Down in My Memory心靈深處記憶宇宙的圖騰”
“In Purity and at Ease淨心自在”
“The King Above All頂上王”
“To Change the Destiny改變命運”

The Cosmic Totems of the Huayan World

The cosmic totems, visualized by Master Lee in deep meditation, are the fundamental images of all the phenomena and all the energies of the cosmos. Master Lee furthermorerealizes that all the changes of the cosmic energies, their subtle causal interactions, can be perfectly represented by simple composition of lines, composition that harmonizes the elements of sound, light, and form, that embodies all variations and transformations of energies and their effects across three lifetime. The composition, ultimately speaking, is the manifestation of the innate nature.

In the Temple, such totemic energy illustrations can be found almost everywhere. In the main building, there are Potential-Activation Pyramid and I Ching Nine-Cell Matrix in the mail hall of the first floor,the totemic carving onthe fragrant Grand Torreya of the 2nd floor, and the totemic energy paintings displayed in the Stairway Gallery. The installation art of the stone mortars in the Tri-Virtue Square and the totemic energy carving of “The Huayan World” on the slate ground of the courtyard near the Dharma Bell are also the examples.

“The Huayan World” in the front courtyard comprises six illustrations: “The Ten Greats in Oneness十大一如”
“The Dao Will be Perpetually Glorified 正道永宏”
“The Origins of the Dharma Universe 法界源起”
“The Perpetual-Tranquil-Glory Pure Land常寂光淨土”
“Instantaneous Entry into the True Reality 頓入實相”
“The Ultimate Enlightened of the Twelve Dharma Universes十二法界之究竟覺悟者”

Tri-Virtue Square

The Tri-Virtue Square, located in the courtyard near the Dao Café, features a dimensional totemic artwork entitled “Replete with All Three Virtues,” which is comprised of three stone mortars, each with its energy totem presented in hemp rope. The one in red rope represents “the virtue of empowerment and purification,” the purple is “the virtue of fortune,” and the yellow “the virtue of wisdom.”

Each stone mortar is filled with water where grows green duckweed – the greenness adds interest to the environment and draws many visitors to take photos.

On the end of the Tri-Virtue Square is a retaining wall made of Kaolinite stone. On top of the retaining wall are five Guanyin stone statues and underneath is a fosse with seaweed and carp fish. At night, the light illuminates from the fosse, very poetic.

Doors of Art

The doors in Yuan-Dao Guanyin Temple are not just functional but also work of art, waiting for visitors to explore. For instance, the Temple’s Grand Gate is adorned with the “Seal of Myriad Dharmas in Oneness” with the Chinese script “Dao 道” placed in the center of the Seal. The “Seal of Myriad Dharmas in Oneness” can also be seen in the Nine-Dragon Gate located in the basement courtyard. The door of the restroom, also located in the basement courtyard, is designed as an ancient city gate. As to the door next to the Da-Miao Lecture Hall on the 4th Floor of the main building, it demonstrates a different style: it is embedded with a Chinese chess, shuai 帥 (the commander in chief).

Four Upholding Pillars

From outside of the main building, one can see on both sides a pair ofhuge pillarsstanding across the 3rd and the 4th floor. Set in the white façade, glazed tile eaves, and wooden truss, these four upholding pillars, 7 meters tall and 60 centimeters in diameter, give the Temple a tremendously solemn look.

These four upholding pillars represent the bodhisattva’s four principalvirtues – compassion, wisdom, vow-making, and practice. Considering the exposure to rain and natural rotting, the timber selectedhas to be dense, durable and rich in essential oils, but at the same time, come with low stiffness and high dimensional stability with a good resistance to temperature change, humidity, and decay. African teak wood was eventually chosen because of its color, anatomical features, and length. And it turned out that it had been imported to Taiwan for quite some time, just waiting to be found and used.

African teak wood is comparatively less explored, but its quality is no less than the one from Thailand or Myanmar, where teak wood has been overexploited and as a result, the quality is not as good as before. But most importantly, the timber in Southeast Asia is no longer than four meters – far away from what we needed for constructing Yuan-Dao Guanyin Temple. We can only say that it is African teak wood’s destiny to adorn the Pure Land.

Twin Dragons Holding Up One Jewel

On the balcony of the 2nd floor of the main building, two dragons are holding up “The Seal of Myriad Dharmas in Oneness” –one of the four principal seals of Forshang Buddhism. The twin dragons, no doubt, are celestial dharma guardians.

Rosewood Corridor

The exterior wall of the first floor of the main building is made of granite stone and the surrounding corridor is paved with rosewood as the floor. As to the railings of the corridor, they are made of Balsamo wood, and the handrails in cast iron. Overall, it reveals an elegant naturalness and perseverant fortitude – a good way to characterize the disposition of Forshang Zen.

In summertime, one can sit enjoying the breeze at the corridor. During the winter, one can take a walk along the corridor and look up the magnificent Holy Thousand-Hand Guanyin Statue just a half mile away. What a treat!