When in a Buddhist Temple

by Andrew Stein

Similar to the old saying about the Romans, when in a Chinese Buddhist Monastery, one should do as the Chinese Buddhists do. While in Hangzhou, I ventured to Fei Lai Feng (also Fei Lai Peak), which faces the Lingyin Temple. The Lingyin Temple is home to hundreds of Buddhist statues, and many probably travel here to pay their respects.

While in The Lingyin Temple, I observed a ritual involving incense sticks, bowing, and fire. After observing for several minutes, I also wanted to participate. As a solo traveler, I can use whatever luck and good fortune I can come across, and therefore took this Buddhist ritual as an opportunity to increase my chances of future luck. The ritual began by purchasing a bundle of incense sticks.

buddhist ritual

I then lit these sticks along side other participants.

burning sticks

I proceeded to bow in all four directions in an order that I had observed others doing earlier, and then I placed my incense sticks into a greater fire.

fire pit

Later on, in the theme of doing as the Chinese Buddhists do at a Chinese Buddhist temple, I climbed to the peak of Fei Lai and had my photo taken next to inscribed words on a rock. Everyone who took the effort to climb the many steps seemed to pose at this inscription, so I felt I should, too.

fei lai feng