On Monday, June 19th, the Wutai Shan Buddhist garden opened its doors to more than 3000 members of the public to celebrate the 50 Anniversary of the establishment of the Buddhist Association of Canada. The Buddhist Association of Canada Cham Shan Temple was founded in 1967 by Elder Masters Sing Hung, Shing Cheung and Lok To, who came to Canada with the great vow of propagating Chinese Buddhism in Canada. Since then, they have established more than 10 monasteries across Ontario, including the “Ten Thousand Buddhas Sarira Stupa” in Niagara Falls, and “Cham Shan Temple” in Thornhill where the head office of the organization is also located.
In 1990, land was purchased in the local regions of Peterborough County and City of Kawartha Lakes for the grand project of building the “Four Great Sacred Buddhist Gardens in Canada”. The purpose of this project is to offer pilgrims and visitors similar experience as the “Four Great Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China”, without having to travel to the different regions of China, and the Canadian sites are much more easily accessible for the physically challenged.
When fully developed, this will be the largest single Buddhist complex outside China. The complex includes 1700 acres on four sites: Wutai Shan located at 708 Ski Hill Rd, Cavan Monaghan; Putuo shan located at 4 Lifford Rd.; E’mei Shan at 1547 Ballyduff Rd.; and Jiuhua Shan located at 340 Pontypool Rd.
The first site to be developed is the Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden where a ground-breaking ceremony took place for the construction of the main Dharma hall in May 2011. This main building was constructed in China built with rosewoods and cedars, using an ancient Chinese building technique called “dougong”, without a single nail. It was then dissembled and shipped to the site where it will be reassembled by 30 Chinese craftsmen.
The landscape surrounding the Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden, the support of sponsors and the congregation members and the local communities has allowed the site to transform into a world-class Buddhist complex with meditation/retreat centres. When completed, this is will be place where “East Meets West”, where Buddhism can freely flourished for everyone to embrace, and be guided on one’s own path to enlightenment.
Organizers explain that the complex is for everyone, as Buddhism is not a religion but rather a principal for living a peaceful life. Adherents to other religions are welcome to add the study of Buddhism to as a guide to living a peaceful life.
Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world with almost 400 million followers divided into three separate groups. This particular Buddhist group is from China and is not associated with the Dalia Lama of India. They share a philosophy, which includes the notion of karma: you reap what you sow. They are extremely peaceful in their orientation, striving to do good each day and choosing silence over words of confrontation when they disagree. Theirs is a very long horizon, as evidenced by the patience demonstrated in this development project which is expected to take 20 years to complete.
When all four sites are completed, visitors can participate in the grueling Prostration Pilgrimage which involves a 135 km walk from Chan Sham Temple to Wutai Shan. During the process, participants take three steps then fall prostrate before taking the next three steps. This process extends the pilgrimage to a minimum of 181 days.
After being selected for its harmony with the earth, the other three temples of the project are on hold due to the construction of two industrial wind turbine farms and the approval of another that conflict with the vision of the organization for harmony with nature.
When complete, this will be a place for learning, meditation and spiritual retreat. Classes are planned for the public on flower arranging, meditation, and Buddhism surrounded by beautiful gardens. KG