Hello all, welcome!
On the morning of 9.21.10, our group woke up early in the morning to find Nanjing amongst an enormous downpour of rain. It felt like Nanjing was in the middle of a deep cleansing, and the rain felt a bit like some kind of rite as we are given our first official tour of the city. We ran across the street from our hotel, ducked into the subway station, and grabbed a train to the university. There awaited our guide and liaison to Nanjing U, Dr. Wang. Although our American liaison threatened that we’d be abandoned if we were late, she herself ended up leaving us waiting in our bus for nearly an hour, grumpy and frequently wiping the fog off the windows, in hope to see the rain clearing for our tour.
When we started rolling along, we were told that our first stop would be the Jiming Temple, a Buddhist temple situated near one of the old walls of the city near the heart of Nanjing. We were set loose by our guides, and given a couple of hours to peruse the temple. It was gorgeous. There were several buildings throughout the site, with a pagoda containing a statue of Buddha as the heart of the temple. Enormous and staggeringly life-like statues to honor the deities within Buddhism were inside some of the buildings, and people lighted incense and gave gifts in prayer and homage to them. Something was strangely familiar about some of the temples and prayer rooms. Near the entrance to the pagoda was a room full of candles in order to light the prayer incense that was given at the temple entrance. Visitors were lighting the incense, and bowing in *I think* toward the four directions, and then leaving the incense to burn, I imagine their prayers continuing to warm and drift into heaven.
When first entering the open-air room that surrounded it, I was offered prayer blocks to hang among the hundreds that circled the pagoda. There were also stone carvings that were placed into the wall that outlined the life of Buddha. Stepping into the pagoda was uplifting. Inside was a massive statue of Buddha, illuminated by light above. On the walls surrounding him were hundreds of miniature statues, each too individually illuminated and named, which I speculate were to honor monks who lived and practiced at the temple. At this point, I felt like I was stepping into a warm, respectful, and compassionate spiritual dimension. The crusty black layers of shell that had accumulated from a few years of pressure, board exams, tests, etc was gently starting to crack. I felt the core of my heart begin to warm and unfold, and wondered if this was a spark or touch of essence of the wisdom that Buddha taught. Or who knows… Anyhow, it was a good experience. A staircase spiraled around the statue to the next level, where there was another statue of sorts, likely some kind of tool for prayer. This repeated to the top level of the pagoda, where there was a small seat, and a sweet lady of youthful demeanor, who probably has been at the temple for many decades. I could step outside to the walkways that surrounded each level of the pagoda, and see fantastic views of all of Nanjing. The most spectacular being the view of Xuan Wu Lake and the old wall. Please see the pic.
Time’s up. Had to head out of the temple to meet the group, all soaked with rain and ready to dry off in the shelter of a great Nepalese & Indian restaurant called Himilaya. (Those prices are in yuan…pretty cheap then, so don’t let it stop you if you’re in Nanjing) Kabobs, prawns, curries…good stuff. We frequented the place after this visit. From there, we went to Nanjing Yunjin, a brocade museum where they explained the process, and had people actually creating the silk for brocade within the building. It looked like a masterful process, requiring a lot of patience and tenacity. Beautiful stuff, would’ve loved to buy more of than I did. While waiting for our driver, a few of us ran over to see the sculptures at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial.
Next we, we visited Yuejiang Tower, which I’ll chat about in the next blog… Sorry I’m long winded when I write…I don’t want your eyes to fatigue. J
Peace, thanks for looking,