Wutai Shan Temple Open House

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Photo Karen Graham.
The Buddha is smiling because he has recently been released from his storage crates in time to greet visitors.

The date for the Open House for the Buddhist Temple has been changed to June 19th.

It’s time for another peek at the progress at the Buddhist Associations’ major project known as Wutai Shan Temple located on Ski Hill Road outside Bethany.

This year the doors open at 10 am on Monday June 19 for their annual Open House which last year saw close to 2000 visitors come through the site to see the continuing transformation of this quiet spot in the community. Admission and parking is free, and visitors are welcome to tour around the 530 acre site by car or on foot until 2:30 that afternoon.   To help divert some of the traffic, the Manvers Historical Society is organizing tour buses for those who do not wish to drive.

The entire project is funded through donations, so construction progress is directly linked to the flow of donations.   So while admission is free, the organization gladly welcomes donations to help with the significant costs for which they issue charitable receipts. Visitors can donate by sponsoring specific aspects of the project or make a general donation to the association.

Photo Karen Graham.

Part of a massive project on 4 sites encompassing 1700 acres and straddling two municipalities, the Cham Shen Temple site is the furthest along in its development and the only one located in Cavan Monaghan Township. Established by Buddhist Association of Canada, this local project is a recreation of a series of sacred sites of China and is designed to allow an abbreviated, North American version of the sacred pilgrimage of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains in China. The Wutai Shan Temple on Ski Hill Road is the first and largest of the temples and pays homage to the leading Bodhisattva, Manjusri. This religious leader ranks first due to his “infinite wisdom”, which the project leaders acknowledge will be a key ingredient to the successful completion of this massive project. Once completed, the $80-million project will include replicas of the four Chinese sites, incorporating traditional temples connected by a 40-kilometre path for walking meditation.

Photo Karen Graham.

The main building at the Wutai Sham Temple site is the Main Dharma Hall, which faces Devil’s Elbow Ski Hills and can be seen from Ski Hill Road. The ground floor will house the Main Reception area, a Gift Shop, a Tea Room, Dining Hall, Memorial Hall and administrative offices and the building will feature a display of 88 Jade Buddha Statues, all carved in Myanmar from white jade. According to Property Development & Special Projects Manager Diane Chen, Dharma Hall is the most important building and remains a work in progress. The concrete level is complete, and the much anticipated wooden-structure temple will be reassembled on the top level of this building.   This section of the building was built in China using an ancient Chinese construction technique called “Dougong”, which involves building with precise interlocking brackets without the use of nails. The wooden structure was then taken apart and shipped to the site a few years ago, awaiting re-assembly, which organizers hope will begin this summer. Before this begins, the Buddha statues will be to be put in position on the scaffolding now visible above the base of the building.

This year’s event will feature a special prayer and blessing service to celebrate The Buddhist Association of Canada Cham Shan Temple’s 50th Anniversary in Canada.

At the entrance to the site, visitors are welcomed by a massive Happy Buddha statue which is now assembled. A reflection the massive scale of the project, this statue tips the scales at 126 tons and dwarfs the landscape around it. The image’s serene expression reflects the Buddhist philosophy of tolerance, compassion and the notion that you reap what you sow. He beckons visitors to embrace these beliefs and reach out to the world by ringing a massive Peace Bell located on one of the highest points on the property. The gesture demonstrates a willingness to seek a greater respect and appreciation for those who are like us as well as those who are not. KG

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