Luojia Shan and Guanyin's Leap

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on November 16, 2015.)

Luojia Shan as seen from Putuo Shan, with Guanyin's Leap in the foreground

Putuo Shan is an island lying off the coast of Zhejiang, accessible via Ningbo or Shanghai. It is considered one of the Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism, and is dedicated to Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. (The others are Emei Shan for Puxian; Jiuhua Shan for Dizang; and Wutai Shan for Wenshu.)

According to tradition, this is the place where the bodhisattva cultivated her Buddhist practice. Numerous legends surround this place, including how Guanyin acquired her two attendants, the boy monk Shancai, and the Dragon Girl, granddaughter of the Dragon King of the Eastern Ocean.

Just as Putuo lies off of the mainland, another, smaller, island lies of the coast of Putuo. This is Luojia Shan.

Two interesting stories attach to this very small island. The first says that Guanyin began her practice here, and for some reason decided to move to the slightly larger island nearby. She accomplished this trip by taking one mighty leap, leaving her footprint upon landing on Putuo at a place now called "Guanyin's Leap."

The second story is more intricate. Luojia Shan resembles a person lying on the water, giving rise to this story:

Guanyin moved to the area as a young girl, and loved swimming in the sea. One day a General caught sight of her enjoying a swim, and reported it to the King of Heaven. Angered by this (the legend does not say why), the King was preparing to punish her, but Guanyin quickly threw sand into the sea, forming the island. She told the King that the General had been mistaken--all he had seen was the human-shaped island!

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