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3I

A PILGRIM'S VISIT TO THE FIVE TERRACES MOUNTAINS

From uery early times mountains were seen as points of access to heauen or places
were deities dwelled. As Buddhism penetrated China more fully, this tradition
was enricbed. Monasteries were regulaily bwilt in mountains, and many came to
dttrdct pilgrims, including both laymen and clerics. The religious goal of a iourney to a Buddhist mountain site was to make contact with the Buddha or bodhisattua ensbrined at tbe temple and to gain religious merit. Among the many
mowntain temples, ones with special treasures-relics of the Bwddha, magnificant
paintings, or stdtues-were particularly likely to become maior pilgrimage sites.
The monasteries of Fiue Terraces Mowntains (Wutai Shan) near the northern
border of China proper were among tbe first to deuelop as pilgrimage sites. As
earll' as the sixth century there were two hundred temples in the mowntains, and
the region soon came to be identified witb the great celestial bodhisattua Manjttsri. 81, the ninth centltrl, thousands of monks liued in tbe monasteries on these
mountains. ln this period the pilgrims to Fiue Terraces Mountains seem to haue
been primarily Buddhist monks. These monks included not only Chinese from
other parts of the country, but monks from elsewhere in East Asia, particularly
Korea and Japan and euen occassionally India. Below is an extract from the diary
written in Chinese by the lapanese monk Ennin (793-864), who spent the years
838-847 in China. Ennin recorded his encounters with both holy men and holy
places and was quick to notice the connections between i?nportant Buddhist establishments and tbe imperial gouernmetxt.

::*---terrace and prostrated ourselves to show our ::


spect, for this is the region of Maniusri. . . .

Twenty-eighth Day
fof the Fourth Month of 840]
We entered a broad valley and went west thirty li
until 10 era when we arrived at Stopping Point
Common Cloister. Before entering the cloister we
saw to the northwest the summit of the central

First Day of the Fifth Month.


The weather was clear and we started out on c -'
trip around the Five Terraces Mountains.'$7e 1.132

:*-_:

-i-l:

-: i!

A Pilgrim's Yisit to the Fiue Terraces Mountains

rur donkey at the Stopping Point Cloister, asking


it. From the cloister we

:he monk in charge to feed

=aveled about seventeen li west, then turned


aorth to cross the summit, going fifteen /l until we

; MOUNTAINS

,i!"en or places
. :bi-, tradition
,iJtty carne to
t,;l of a jouriii:e or bodhi-',tg the many
';. ntagnificant

xopped at Bamboo Grove Monastery. There we


net several dozen novices who had come from
rarious places to be ordained there.
After a meal we toured the monastery. It had a
:lace for performing circumambulations. Formerly Priest Fazhao practiced calling the name of
jre Buddha in this hall. He was given the posthu:rous name of Priest Great Enlightenment by im-rial edict when he died nearly two years ago. An
mage of him was made and placed in this hall.
There is also a painting of Buddhapala meeting an
Cd man when he arrived at Five Terraces in 676.
h the Buddha Hall in the Garland Cloister there
s a diamond mandala.

:.Trintage sites.

Second Day

;, :l:e northern
:z4rge sites. As

c.runtAins, And

i:stttua Man;teies on these


s seem to haue

Cl:inese from

r.

particularly
*ont the diary
tbe years
men and holy

*eflt

,:: Buddhist es-

to show our re:on of Manjusri. . . .


.-turselves

fie Fifth Month.

ard rve started out on ou:


-aces Mountains.'!7e let:

[e went to theZhenyuan Commandment Cloisrr. On the second story we worshiped the man,tala of the seventy-two sages and worthies made
ix the benefit of the nation, a marvelous paintrrg. Next someone opened up the Ten Thousand
ieints Ordination Platform for us to view. It was
..rrde entirely of white jade, three feet tall, and
,r:agonal in shape. Its base is filled with incense
^h, and it is covered with a multicolored carpet,
rbo octagonal in shape, which fits it exactly. The
Rilars and beams are painted very beautifully.
.We

called on Linjue, the venerable monk in


Earge of the ordination platform. One hundred
'ears old, he had been a monk for seyenty-two
rears. His facial features were unusual, making
r,-n look like a veritable saint. He was affable on
ueeting his guests. 'W'e were told that the year beire, in the sixth month, three monks from the
\alanda Monastery in India who came to the Five

irraces Mountains saw a multicolored cloud


irining about his body. They have since returned

lndia.
The Bamboo Grove Monastery has six cloisus (the Rules Cloister, Living Quarters Cloister,

733

Garland Cloister, Lotus Cloister, Balcony Cloister, and Buddha Hall Cloister) and forry monks.
This monastery is not under the control of Five
Terraces. . .

Sixteenth Day

Early in the morning we left Bamboo Grove Monastery, following the valley east for ten /1, then
turning northeast for another ten /1, until we got
to Great Garland Monastery, where we lodged in
the Living Quarters Cloister. After a meal we visited the Nirvana Cloister where we saw Abbot
Faxian lecturing on the Great Calming and Contemplation in the upper story. Forty-odd monks
were sitting and listening to his lecture. 'W'e rec-

ognized Priest Zhiyuan, the Tiantai Abbot,


among the audience. The magnificence of the decoration of the hall is difficult to describe. The abbot announced that he had finished lecturing on
chapter four and would proceed to the next part
in his next lecture.
'S7e

went to Priest Zhiyuan's room to pay our

respects to him. He expressed his kind concern

for

us. . . . The monks of the fifteen cloisters of Great


Garland Monastery all regard Zhiyuan as their
abbot. He receives no alms, is strict il observing
rules, eats only once a day, and never misses any
of the six daily worship services. He constantll'
practices the Lotus Repentance and is der-oted to
the concept of the three vieu's [on unrealin ]. He is
respected and honored br the venerable monks of
the monasteries all over the mountains. His most
deeply held ambition is to see the bodhisatwa Samantabhadra (Puxian ) and prove the worth of the
Lotus Repentance.
After drinking tea we visited the Nirvana altar
and worshiped the representation of the Buddha
attaining nirvana. It showed him lying on his right

side beneath two trees, sixteen feet long. His


mother was on the ground, distraught. There were
also the four heavenly kings, the eight gods, and
the various saints, some wringing their hands and
weeping, some with their eyes closed contemplating. It was exactly as described in the sutras. . . .

134 I

The Era of Diuision and the Tang Dynasty

'$7e

also saw a portrait of Priest Big-shoe, who


had practiced on this mountain. He made fifty pilgrimages around the mountains, once spending
three years at the summit without coming down.
Finally, with the aid of Manjusri, he put on a pair
of large shoes, a foot five inches high, one twentyfive pounds, the other ten pounds. They are now
on display in front of the portrait. The priest once

made fifteen thousand robes to give to fifteen


thousand monks. His portrait is now placed in the
upper storv rvhere offerings are made to it. . . .

Seventeenth Day

. . . In the er-ening I went up to the Bodhisattva


Hall Clorster with several other monks to see
Pnest Chinian. He is seventy years old, but to look
at him i'ou might think he was forty. People say
that his robust appearance comes from the power
of his devorions. The hall was opened for us, and
u-e n'orshiped the incomparably magnificent image of the bodhisarrva -\lanjusri riding a lion. The
image fills rhe fir'e-bav hall. The lifelike lion seems
to be mor-ing majesticallv rvith vapors coming out
of its mouth. Alter rve stared at it for a long time,
it seemed to move.

The venerabie monks told us that when they


first tried to make this statue, it kept splitting, six
times in a row. Vexed, the artist said, "Everyone
in the world recognizes my unique skill. My whole
life I have been casting Buddhist statues and never
before have any split open. This time when I made
this statue I prepared myself by observing abstinence and concentrated all my skill on making
something that would move the people of the
rvorld to behold and worship it and thus turn their
hearts [to Buddhism]. Now I have cast it six times
and it has cracked six times. Clearly [my work]
must displease Manjusri. If this is so, I humbly
entreat the Great Sage Manjusri to show me his
true appearance. If I personally gaze on his golden
face, I will immediately copy it and make a statue."
As soon as he had made his prayer) he opened
his eyes and saw before him the bodhisattva Manjusri riding on a golden-colored lion. After some

time, Manjusri mounted a multicolored cloud anc


flew up into the sky. The artist wept for joy. He
then realized that the statue he had made befor.
had not been right. He changed his model tc
match what he had seen in size and appearance.
Thus the seventh time he cast it, it did not crack,
in fact, everything proved easy to do. Once the
statue was finished it was placed in this hall.'Witi:
tears in his eyes, the artist said, "'$7hat a miracle.

have seen what has never been seen before. pray that in all my successive lives, age after age.i
will be a disciple of Manjusri." Having said this.
he died.
From then on this statue from time to time
would emit light or manifest other signs of its marvelous powers. A record was made of each manifestation and sent to the emperor, who respondec
by sending a gift of Buddhist cloaks, one of whicl-can be seen on the statue. Each year an imperiaemissary sends five hundred cloaks for the monks
of the monastery. This is in addition to the annuaimperial gifts of incense, flowers, pearls, canopies.
jades, jewels, crowns, chased metal incense burners, large and small mirrors, carpets with designs.

white cloth, imitation fruit and flowers, all o:


which are abeady considerable. Not all of then:
can be displayed in the hall; the others have to be
stored in the storehouse. Donations from officia.
and private donors from around the country ar.
too numerous to list.
When any of the monasteries at Five Terraces
make statues of Manjusri, they always copy this
one, but they never capture more than one percent of it.
Inside the hall a canopy with the seven treasures hangs over the bodhisattva. Brightly colore;
and decorated banners and crowns with rare jeirels fill the hall, along with untold numbers o:
beautifully made mirrors of various sizes.
Exiting the hall to the north we could see the
northern and eastern terraces with their entireh
treeless high rounded summits. The short grasse:
were colorful, so seen from a distance, it lookec
like autumn, though it was the middle of summer
Returning to the front of the hall we gazed at th.
southern terrace, which is also treeless. Unlike th;

A Pilgrim's Visit to the Fiue Terraces Mountains


-:

-. iiricolored cloud an;


:-tsr wept fof joy. H;

:-r.r mountains, its summit stands out by itself,

.
.r.: re had made befor.

:;hing the blue sky. The western terrace is cut


:-- trom the central terrace and was not visible.
.n front of the Bodhisattva Hall on the end of a
--: there was a three-bay pavilion floored with
,.:rds and surrounded by a high railing on all
:r sides. Beneath it was a precipice going down
.:. thousand feet. The venerable monk told us
.:i the Japanese monk Reisen saw ten thousand
ihisattvas from this pavilion.

:. :nged his model r.


-. ..ze and appearanci.
:,': ir, it did not crack:
: ::S| to dO. Once th.
: i-';d in rhis hall. Wiri

.::i. "What a miraclc.


..: leen seen before,

= .:r'es. age after age.

-\fter we had performed acts of worship at each

-,- -." Having said this.

.:;e there, we went to Balcony Cloister to see


.:bot Xuanliang, who, since the fourth month,
:. been lecturing on the Garland sutra and, the
- ::.ntai commentaries to over forty disciples of

:-= :rom time to timr


:: ' :her signs of its mar-

:.

made of each man_

, :.est Zhiyaan. In the morning he lectures on the


';rland sutra in the Balcony Cloister, in the

-.:::or. who respondec


.::-oaks, one of which

::;h

r.ear an imperia.
: :-oaks for the monks
::iirion to the annual
.,. .:s. pearls,
canopies.
.- neral incense burn-

.. ::rpets

with designs.
: :nd flowers, all of
',:-e. Nor all of them
. ::e others haye to be
:-:iions from official
- ..nd the country
are
:::-es at Five Terraces
:-:'.' a11y4ys copy this

: :tore
'.,..:rh

than one per-

the seven trea-

=. Brightly colored
-: \\'ns with rare jew:nrold numbers of
-a.

:.,

monks from
: ,,ih cloisters attending both. They are joined by
:-:nv others from other cloisters [on the moun- -_-l
:.1I1. ...

With a group of monks we went to the upper


-:rrv, where we worshiped. The interior urd i*:=:ior were both impressive, and it had treasures
,-::rrlar to those in the Bodhisattva Hall. 'W'e saw
:,:< skull of a self-enlightened buddha. It was
-.ack and white, like pumice stones in
our coun.-,'. fhs bone inside was strong and as big as a
-.','o-pint bowl. It was rhe top of the skull, for on
:

::ious sizes.
::a \\'e could see the
-. ,,,'irh their entirell:.. The short grasses

::srance,

it looked

. :t:ddle of summer.
-,-:.. rve gazedatthe
::eeless. Unlike the

rvas growing white hair about five inches long,

rich must have grown after being shaved. It was


- :ought by a monk from the western regions dur.-s the Zhenguan period [627-650]. There was
..so a Sanskrit version of the Lotws sutra and a
,.

-,ne

',

ining on the Great Calming and Contempla-

' .q in the Nirvana Cloister, with

135

woolen robes and staves, having traveled from all


over to come as pilgrims. By imperial command
this temple has a place for performing rites for the
protection of the country. A monk of the Tiantai
tradition is lecturing there on the Rule of the Four
Parts. He is also a disciple of priest Zhiyuan. . . .

Sixth Day of the Sixth Month.

An imperial commissioner arrived, and all the


monks in the monastery went out to welcome
him. The regulations specify that each year the
emperor sends such things as clothes, alms bowls,
incense, and flowers to Five Terraces Mountains
to be distributed to the twelve main monasteries.
Included are five hundred fine robes, five hundred

packages

of silk floss,

one thousand buddhist

cloaks dyed blue, a thousand ounces of incense, a


thousand pounds of tea, and a thousand towels.
Vegetarian feasts are also provided at the twelve
main monasteries.

Seventh Day

On this day the monasrery held the maigre feast


provided by imperial order. After it u.as completed, the monks performed a ritual recitarion of
the Garland sutra.Inthe evening the imperial emissary went to rhe Bodhisarrla Hall ri.irh ser.eral
dozen monks, hoping to see a manifesration
lof
Manjusri]. He also \\-enr ro rhe \irr.ana Cloister
to pay his respects to Priesr Zhivuan.

of the Buddha in a lapis lazuli bottle and two

=r' fine copies of the Lotws sutra) one in gold


-raracters, one in small characters.
ln front of the building was a gorgeous two_
,:ln. octagonal pagoda. At its base was an Aso_
. :n stupa, buried so no one could
see it. It is t_rne
: rhe 84,000 stupas [the Indian] King Asoka
:.:de [to house relics of the Buddha].
Next we went to the Pavilion of Constancy and

-.:iormed acts of adoration. More than fifty


xks practice meditation there. They all have

:-

Eighth Day
The imperial emissary provided a maigre feast for
a thousand monks.

Ninth Day

After eating, the imperial emissary went to


Golden Balcony Temple.

1,36 I

The Era of Diuision and th,e Tang Dynasty

Eleventh Day

It

was the birthday of the current emperor. On


imperial instructions, the various monasteries at
Five Terraces Mountains held birthday maigre
feasts, all ringing their bells at the same time- The

five or six most venerable monks got up from thdr


seats to offer incense. I heard that the imperid
emissary returned to the capital after offering ir
cense at the Golden Balcony Temple.
Translated by Patricia Ebrey

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