The Monks of Lin Feng Temple

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on July 17, 2017.)

Tiny Linfeng Temple on Zhiti Shan, Ningde, Fujian

I have recently told of meeting a well-known monk, Master Ji Qun. But during that same temple stay in Ningde, I was also reminded of the many anonymous members of the Sangha (the community of Buddhist believers).

One evening, after dinner, the acting abbot of Huayan Temple on Zhiti Shan, where I was staying, asked if I would like to see another temple nearby. Of course I would!

Perhaps I should have said "no." We had to hike down a few hundred feet of wet, slippery stone steps; cross a beautiful stream with a "five dragon pool"; and climb up again to a rustic temple. Torture.

But at the end of the trail lay sublimity.

As we approached a crumbling mass of brick and plaster across terraced fields, I wondered if this was an abandoned temple. But no: stepping through a tumble-down doorway, I spotted an altar with candles alight. My companion called out, and a humble monk came out in an under-shirt, pulling on a tattered robe as he came.

Lin Feng Temple seemed to be home to a half-dozen monks, with an older woman there to cook. They all scrambled to dress upon seeing visitors. I thought, "What a great place to practice!"

Wandering through the decrepit buildings after the monks finished their dinner of rice gruel, we encountered an unfinished rear hall, with a gorgeous gilt statue of Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, inside.

That was 11 years ago. Using satellite photos, I have found the temple online. A newly-graded road leads up to it, and there are more buildings now. Tiny Lin Feng, like so many other Buddhist temples in China, seems to be on the rise.

The courtyard at Linfeng Temple

An anonymous monk at Linfeng Temple

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