Chung Tai Chan Monastery
A Treasure Trove of Buddhism
Located in the Chung Tai Mountain in Puli, Nantou, Chung Tai Chan Monastery is one of the four giants of Buddhism, and the other three are Dharma Drum Mountain, Tzu Chi Foundation, and Fo Guang Shan. Mountains surround this place like flower petals, and the scenic view attracts lots of tourists.
Chinese and western techniques are incorporated into the design of the building, and the image is very different from the usual Buddhist temples. The building is soaring and resplendent, and it also conveys the Zen thought of a�?realization by heart and gaining insight to become one with Buddha.a�? Stone is used as a main building material for the monastery and represents determination and persistence of people pursuing the religious practice. The temple is greatly admired after it was built. In 2002, the building won an architecture award in Taiwan. If you observe the monastery closely, you would discover that it looks like a person doing yoga meditation in a mountain from the side. The building looks like a pyramid from a far distance. It is interesting to see such a blend of ancient thought with modern design.
When stepping into the temple, you would find the place particularly wide and high. This place enshrines Maitreya Bodhisattva, Wei Tuo Bodhisattva, and Eighteen Disciples of the Buddha. On the first floor, there are also Four Heavenly Kingsa�� Halls made of black granite from Shanxi. The second floor enshrines Sakyamuni Buddha and the red and gray Main Hall, the Hall of Patriarch, and Galan Temple. Above the second floor are the Great Majestic Hall, Great Enlightenment Hall, Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and the Golden Dome. Indeed, the building is a mixture of religion and art, and the majesty is beyond words.
Wei Chueh, the founder of the Chung Tai Shan Monastery and Buddhist order, first learned teachings of Buddhism when still very young and took the tonsure when he was thirty. He once stayed secluded at Ji Xiang Temple in I-lan, Yuan Ming Monastery in Hsinchu, and Lantau Island in Hong Kong. He later came back to Taiwan at the end of 1971 and continued his learning in Chung Tai Mountain. He has a profound understanding and is experienced in Buddhism, therefore attracting countless pious followers to learn from him. In fact, he has so far taught more than hundreds of thousands of people. Because of his rich knowledge and insight, the design of the temple has encompassed life, education, academic studies, arts, and sciences. All the paintings, Buddhist statues, sculpture, calligraphy works, and murals inside the temple all have deep knowledge and meanings. The Buddhist historical museum also houses collections of cultural relics throughout different dynasties. It is indeed mind-blowing to walk into this place.