I blame my interest in Buddhism on Tina Turner.
She was once featured on 60 Minutes, draping her lithe, gazelle frame on an Italian leather chair in her house in Nice, France (yeah, it was a modest house, overlooking the ocean) as Morley Safer became more and more bewitched with her radiance.
I was jealous of her immaculate skin and that Bono was her neighbor, but what most peaked my interest was how she credited one central thing that lifted her above poverty, debt, and Ike Turner’s rough hewn hand slapping her cheek in hate: Buddhism.
The camera panned to her worship altar, where she mediated every morning. She even demonstrated a Buddhist chant for Morley. Her voice deepened, her chest swelling with rhythmic joy as ancient song filled the air. A smile splayed across her lips. She even made chanting sound rock n’roll.
It was way cool.
Maybe I wanted to be her, or was in search of my own inner peace. I’ve attended mediation classes, talks, stared at monks, hoping their goodness would rub off on me, even eaten at Buddhist vegetarian restaurants to, you know, eat food that contained wisdom, not just MSG.
Buddhism will always draw me in, so when I heard about the Wenshu Temple and Monastery in Chengdu, taking a look was a must.
Chinese Buddhism had its major beginnings during the Tang Dynasty when several temples were erected and Wenshu is from that era. After being destroyed by war and pillagers, the temple was rebuilt during the Qing Dynasty. It’s still stands today, plunked in the city, thriving in the 21st century.
What’s so damn special about Wenshu? I discovered that the monastery houses a paltry amount of Buddha statues: 300. Pathetic. Sad. I manly went out of pity.
The extensive grounds have several worship areas with gardens and a vegetarian restaurant. I was particularly excited about the promise of food, but when I got there some construction hoarding surrounded the area where the restaurant should be. Oh well, the rest of the sights made up for it.
You’ll see for yourself.
Okay, truth is I was hoping to run into Tina. How neat would that be?
To get there: Take metro Line 1 (costs about 2 RMB) and the temple is located about 10 minutes from the Wenshu Monastery metro stop. Entry fee is 5 RMB. A taxi would get you there (depends on your hotel/hostel location), but it should be around 20 RMB.