Our airplane touched down slowly in Qingdao after 5 ½ hours of flight. Our tour guide was Liu. He brought along another senior tour guide who helped out with the explanation of the various tourist attractions in Shandong. When I told the latter that I wanted to see the cherry blossom, he told me I won’t be able to do so because he just sent off a group of Singaporean tourists who came for the cherry blossom but left in disappointment because the flowers had already withered. However, when we set foot in the Zhongshan Garden, we were awed by the full cherry blossom in the garden! Actually, the single-petalled cherry blossom had indeed withered but the dould-petalled cherry blossom were just beginning to show their beauty and welcoming our arrival. Silently, I thanked the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in my heart, for they never disappoint anyone of his wish.
On the first day, I told Liu that all our Chinese tour guides in the past took refuge in Acho Rinpoche during the trips. He gave me a funny look but I just laughed it off.
On the second day, we drove on the 50.4km long Jiaozhou Bay Bridge – we were simply dumbfounded by its sheer size! 5 hours later, we arrived in Feicheng. I saw a poster inside a lift in the hotel that said “Feicheng is the hometown for big fat peaches, and the county for the well-mannered.” I saluted this place silently in my heart.
On the following morning, Ma Yum La (my wife) had an upset stomach. I accompanied her to consult a doctor in a community hospital while the rest of the group went ahead to visit the hometown of Confucius – Qufu. On their way back, they saw a sun halo appearing in the sky.
When we returned to Feicheng, we finally realized that there was a very precious Buddha’s tooth relic being enshrined in the Baoxiang Temple in Wenshang, Jining. According to the Buddhist records, there are only 4 pieces of Buddha’s tooth relic remaining in the world: one in Indra Heaven, one in the Dragon Palace, one in Sri Lanka, and the last one in Beijing. Least did we expect that the last one is actually being enshrined in the Prince Stupa in Baoxiang Temple in Wenshang, Shandong!
In 1994, on the 15th day of the 3rd lunar month, the Buddha’s tooth relic was discovered in the basement of the Prince Stupa during its maintenance; the stupa dated back about one thousand years ago. There were other Buddha relics and sacred objects being discovered at the same time, totaling 141 pieces. The news shocked the entire nation and rocked the world. Ever since the discovery of these sacred objects, “Buddha Light” (a sun halo) would appear above the Prince Stupa around the 15th day of the 3rd lunar month every year without fail. Tens of thousands of monks and tourists would come to Baoxiang Temple to witness the unusual phenomenon every year.
Actually, we had already planned to visit Sri Lanka at the end of this year, to pay homage to the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. A special arrangement seemed to have gone underway quietly without us knowing. We did a prayer before the Buddha’s tooth relic and some of the Chinese tourists joined us in the prayer too. Liu had some special experience during the prayer.
When we stepped out of the basement of the stupa, a sun halo appeared in the sky! Both Liu and the local tour guide found it just unbelievable. The latter said, “A true enlightened master has come! That’s why the Buddha light appears in the sky!”This time, Liu was fully convinced. One the very same night, he took refuge in Acho Rinpoche, together with 6 other relatives of Dharma Sister Shen.
On the 4th day, we ascended the greatest mountain of China – Mtn. Tai. It was indeed the greatest mountain in China, for Dharma Brother Shao saw numerous Taoist deities appearing in the space above and blessed him when he returned alone to the hotel for a rest as he was feeling sick.
We also visited Black Tiger Spring and Baotu Spring in Jinan. We were impressed by the rich underground water hidden beneath this city. There were actually deities guarding the Baotu Spring too. After that, we went to Penglai and saw some other deities who were of a lower spiritual rank. Rain started falling when we were on our way to Yantai, followed by Weihai, and finally reaching the Red Hill in Shidao. The moment we set foot in Red Hill, it was already shrouded by a very thick mist. And there were cherry blossoms everywhere, dancing in the mist and welcoming our arrival. We watched the performance of the world’s only animated Avalokitesvara fountain and again enjoyed the scenic view of full cherry blossom surrounding the entire place. The place was misty and felt like a fairy land. It was drizzling slightly – as if the fairies were showering us with flowers. We were immersed in the greatest power of blessing during this period. After visiting the Lotus Temple, we paid our respect to the Great Brightness Buddha of the Red Hill in circumambulation. At that juncture, numerous Sun Moon Lamp Buddhas appeared in space while we entered the Lotus Samadhi, thus achieving a spiritual response with the Sun Moon Lamp Buddha.
All the experiences we had during this extraordinary tour of the Ancient Land of Qi-Lu were real. The aura of the Buddha and the rain of blessing were there everywhere we went. Mtn. Tai, the greatest mountain in China, a sacred mountain ascended by all the past emperors to pay respect to the heaven after their enthronements, has awakened by the most supreme power of blessing. The Land of China, you ought to be awake too! Life is impermanent. Do not continue falling…….
11pm, 15 May 2013
1) Red Hill
2) Mtn. Tai
3) Animated Avalokitesvara fountain
4) Buddha's tooth relic at Baoxiang Temple