Years before the boy who goes by the name Siddharta would become known as Gautama, the Buddhist religion founder, he was always in search for his life's meaning. It was a life-long quest that would ultimately help shape a big part of our world. I was always fascinated with the Buddhist religion, it strikes me as its centered on one's peace of mind and its relation to every living things around. When I found myself on a bus going to the Ngong Ping highlands to visit the Tian Tan or otherwise known as the "Giant Buddha", peace of mind nor with myself has always been the slippery toad caught between my hands. Right here this moment and gone the next.
Eventually, rather slowly I gained insights along the way that has abled me to find peace even in the most riotous moments, but my mind forever seek answers to a slide show of equations and puzzles that racks up like bees around a honey. I eventually sought refuge with traveling just the same as the young Siddharta did after becoming disillusioned and in the course of his travels he saw the tragedies that befell people on Earth; sickness, old age and death. He questioned his quest for happiness amidst the sorrow that surrounds him.
As we approach the place I could almost see the head of the Buddha from a distance. Imposing yet it conjures a fleeting image of a family member you get to meet for the first time after suffering from a terrible amnesia, strange yet something lies hideously familiar and being right at home. I stepped out of the bus along with other tourists, most of whom were from mainland China, two Caucasian couple and a Sri Lankan family. Echoes of "whoa" alighted out from the mouths of some and I was like stunned for a moment at the size of the Big Buddha upstairs. I saw the flight of stairs leading to the Buddha was quite high but dismissed it as a walk in the bayou. I, however was forgetting that the only climbing I've done in the last few years was the steps of the LRT.
Renouncing the widely accepted norms of lifestyle in his time, Siddharta took off on a long journey bringing a minimal amount of Earthly possessions, cutting his hair bald, he wore torn out clothes and wandered like a nomad and vagabond. Fair to say it's nothing like a majorca holidays as he lived an extreme kind of life only to realized in the end that torturing one's physical self, by becoming too rustic in appearance nor drowning in luxury will not affect one's soul's quest to freedom. I, too have grandeur images of coming across a personal "Satori" on the road - an illumination that could hurriedly lead me to believe that what I was looking for has already been unearthed. In the end as Siddharta has found, the end to sufferings is nothing further than experiencing and living through it for good or for ill. After which, Siddharta became known as Gautama.
I climbed the over 260 steps (268 to be exact) and in between huffing and puffing I pretended to take a photograph and in a few instances I really did, of the Giant Buddha so as not to send message to other climbing visitors that I lack exercise and is belonging to team 'weaklings'. Doing so a few people overtook me and before they could let me eat their dust, they asked me to take photographs of them and in a courteous move they too would offer to take my place behind the camera and will be the one to take a picture of me. So after taking pictures of a couple, three German sisters and a solo backpacker, I also ended up posing for each of them even though I wasn't keen on having my picture taken at that time.
Upon reaching the top I looked around and found an eerie diverted moment of peace, as if someone just pulled a plug off a 50000 watt speaker, just by looking at the fields and highlands of Ngong Ping. I emptied my bottle of mineral water and with sweat all over my shirt I looked exasperated in physical sense, but my mind was traversing on its own and rightfully feeling energized as opposed to my shivering legs. Thoughts of Chinese fried rice, lamb chops, dimsum and noodles soup clouded my mind briefly, but as I stared at the giant bronze statue of the Buddha I felt energized and ecstatic to be not only in a place that vastly differs from the electric and elegant high rising towers of Hong Kong, but also being a step closer to finding my own "Dharma"
Inside the big statue, a museum can be accessed for $40HK (with free meal) that displays letters written in blood that dates back 15th-18th century, oil and ceramic paintings of the Buddha's teachings. You can also offer a prayer to a departed one inside as shown by the many black and white images of people whom I presumed have passed away already and inscribed below their photographs was a particular year like "2125", "2065" and so on. I wonder if that signifies the expected rebirth of the person on the photographs.
Gautama spent half his life searching for his own and the other half trying to wake others from the trappings of life. I could at least take a shot at that kind of life, though I am not yet prepared to leave everything behind, having glimpses and learning from my travels has definitely makes its positive shook-up on my soul's core. I will never have that ultimate "Satori" but just a glimmering apparition is enough to send a message that will help me define whatever purpose I have in this life.
The cool winds coming from the sea have dried up my sweat and my shirt has turned into a cold damp cloth, with my legs strength back again to normal I bid the Buddha adios and walked a bit faster down the stairs I saw other visitors starting to climb up again, I encountered the three German sisters who would only give me a fair smile. I wish I'd the urge to pick up chit-chat lines with them, but I guess the Buddha is yet to bless me with that kind of social skills on the fly.
I went down and headed to the nearby Po Lin Monastery and concluded my trip to the Tian Tan Buddha in Ngong Ping, Lantau Island in Hong Kong.
"The kind of seed sown
will produce that kind of fruit.
Those who do good will reap good results.
Those who do evil will reap evil results.
If you carefully plant a good seed,
You will joyfully gather good fruit."