The Brahma Palace at Wuxi

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on August 14, 2017.)

The dome of the Brahma Palace in Wuxi

Few people can say they have been to Heaven--but I have!

Back in January of 2012 I was asked to speak at the installation of a new abbot at Kaiyuan Temple in Wuxi, Jiangsu. He had been my student at a Buddhist college, and another former student was assigned to show us the local sites.

No Buddhist would go to Wuxi without visiting the Lingshan Grand Buddha Scenic Area, and so we were dutifully taken to see the sights.

Yes, the 88-meter (289 foot) Grand Buddha was impressive, as was the baby Buddha rising out of a giant bronze lotus and being sprayed by nine enormous dragons.

But for sheer opulence, you can't beat the Brahma Palace (Fangong) built before the Second World Buddhist Forum held in 2009. With 70,000 square meters of floor space over three floors, it is both inspiring and educational.

Brahma is one of the chief gods of India, and considered the creator. Buddhism sees him as a protector of temples and a "Heavenly King." Thus when my monk-guide was taking my wife and me there, he said repeatedly, "We're going to Heaven!"

The local government is said to have spent 1.6 billion yuan ($240 million USD) on its construction--and it shows. Hand carved wood, gorgeous sculptures, murals, and a "heavenly dome" with a high-tech light display that emulates the night sky.

Some of the murals depict the life of the Buddha and the history of Buddhism. Statues portray not only Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, but also the animal signs of the Chinese Zodiac. Celestial musicians line the rafters. Sensory overload is the order of the day!

Celestial musicians line the rafters leading to the dome of the Brahma Palace in Wuxi

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