This past Sunday Laura and I visited Nan Tien, or 'Southern Heaven/Paradise' in Chinese, Buddhist temple in an outer suburb of Wollongong. This temple is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere, and was really cool. We took the train south, and then walked about 20 minutes from the station to the temple, which was up near a mountain. Laura and I talked about what we knew of Buddhism on the train ride up, and we mostly agreed that we liked Buddhist ideas of finding peace with yourself and harmony with others and the environment.
We took a tour, and our tour guide was a very knowledgeable and friendly man. He was very passionate about his beliefs, and explained some of the harder to understand things about Buddhism to us. Everything is very symbolic within the temple. Like, for example, there were little smoke makers in several different places of meditation that represented how we must get used to change, because nothing is constant. In the actual shrines themselves, there are several big Buddha's that represent different meanings, like Peace with Oneself, but along the walls there are also thousands of little Buddhas built into the walls. In one shrine at this temple there were 5000 little Buddhas built into the walls, all in gold coloring.
There were a lot of Chinese people there, but there were also quite a few Australians visiting, as the temple is quite a tourist spot. Everyone on our tour was Australian. It also has attached cafes and a hotel, and holds mediation weekends and retreats for people looking to wind down. They also had a tea room where we warmed up out of the rain with Chinese hot tea. We also ate a small little vegetarian snack while we were there, and checked out the lotus pond! It was a great little day trip south; it was truly a cultural experience here in urban Australia, and in many ways it did feel a lot like China!
|This pagoda is a resting place for the ashes of people's loved ones.|
|A garden in front of the biggest shrine.|
|The front of the shrine. No pictures were allowed inside.|
|I loved reading this picture on the wall- these are words to live by!|
|These baby Buddhas were carved in China by children in a orphanage.|
I can't wait for grades to come back! Considering these are the first assignments I have turned in all term (besides minor tutorial assignments) I am excited to see how things are graded here... or maybe not. :)