The Large Wild Goose Pagoda

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The Large Wild Goose Pagoda

Big Wild Goose Pagoda in XianThe Large Wild Goose Pagoda, so the story goes, was built on the site of a Buddhist temple that had run out of food. The monks prayed for help. A flock of geese was flying overhead and one dropped out of the sky, satisfying the prayer and resulting in the monks building a large pagoda!

The Buddhist temple (Ci’en Si) that stands there today was built in the 7th century in memory of Empress Wende. It is a working temple and has dormitories for monks to stay. The incense burner at the front of the main prayer room was happily burning incense lit by visitors as well as red candles that didn’t seem to stay lit for long but quickly bend and droop in the heat of the sun.

We spent about an hour there, walking quietly around the complex and learning a little about the differences between Buddhism that we learned about when we were in Sri Lanka and the Chinese version.

The Chinese it seems have assimilated the religion, with even the image of Buddha has been subtly changed to incorporate more Chinese facial features. I had always understood that the fat smiling Buddha that you often see in China was their image of sage but this is apparently the image of the ‘future Buddha’. The classic Buddha image is very similar to the Indian image – just a slight adjustment to the eye and ears.