Texas Sized Buddha

Nage Buddha Shi Hen Da! 

(Translation: That Buddha is REALLY BIG!) 

Last weekend Emily and I came face to giant face with the Leshan Grand Buddha (called DaFo in Chinese), and it is the largest  stone Buddha in the world. DaFo was carved out of a mountain and clocks in at 233 feet tall (sitting) and is definitely at the top of the spiritual super heavy weight division!

But why so BIG? This isn’t Texas!

HISTORY

The inspiration for DaFo came in the AD 700’s following the repeated capsizing of boats and general river current mayhem that was taking place in this southern region of the Sichuan province at at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu, and Qingyi rivers. A monk by the name of Haitong posited that the placement of a massive Buddha – along with his massive watchful eyes – might calm the dangerous currents. As it turns out Haitong was right, although he did not live to see the day himself.

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Construction on DaFo began in 713 AD, and with funding constraints, other delays after Haitong’s passing (and the sheer size of the project), DaFo was completed some 90 years later in 803 AD. Believe it or not, the dangerous waters did indeed calm too. Some might say it was the DaFo’s presence. Others have argued that the massive construction project resulted in so much stone being dropped from the cliff face to the river that the currents were altered by the statue, making the water safe for passing ships. (Thank you wikipedia for some of these details)

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That’s DaFo’s big toe!

OUR MEETING WITH DAFO

DaFo is two hours south of Chengdu, and this was a very worthwhile expedition. DaFo himself was awesome, plus there was great hiking, good food (our first real gōngbào jīdīng), and a quick preview of nearby Emei Shan (30 minute drive).

Emei Shan, or Mount Emei, is one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China. We were only able to stop into the Baguo Temple at the base of the mountain, but we will definitely return for the climb and the view… in particular, to see the Cloud Seas from the Golden Summit of the mountain. We also already learned to watch out for the monkeys when we make the hike.

Always. Watch. Out. For. Monkeys.

All our DaFo trip pics: