Donglin Temple (East Wood Temple) is seated at the western foot of Mt. Lushan, about 16 kilometers away from Jiujiang City, Jiangxi Province. It is in the east of Xiling Temple(West wood Temple),hence the name. The temple was initially built in 384 A.D. in the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420). It is one of temples with long history in Mt. Lushan. Donglin Temple is the birthplace of Pure Land Sect of Buddhism (also called Lotus Sect), which has a great impact on Buddhists in some countries. Donglin Temple is one of three international Buddhism communication venues in Jiangxi. The other two are Sanhe Temple and Yunju Hill.
The temple was built by Huiyuan, a famous monk of his time, who was also the founder of the Pure Land Sect of Buddhism. In the past centuries, the Pure Land Sect was widely spread by Huiyuan's followers. Some of its doctrines were even spread to Japan. Now in China, among the several Buddhists sects, the Pure Land Sect is worshipped by 80% of total Buddhist disciples. With the spread of the Pure Land Sect doctrines, the importance of Donglin Temple has also grown.
The main halls of most Buddhist temples and monasteries are named Mahavira Hall, showing respect to the Great Buddha. Nevertheless, the main hall in Donglin Temple is called Shenyun Hall, which means a hall bestowed by the Buddha. It was said that when Huiyuan arrived at the foot of Mt. Lushan, he didn't believe it was good to build a temple in the forest. One night in a dream, he was instructed by the Great Buddha and decided that it was the right place. That night a strong wind pulled up the trees. Thus not only a piece of land but also the wood needed was ready for the temple. To show thanks Huiyuan dedicated the name of the hall in honor of the Buddha.
In front of the temple is Wisdom Spring. It was once called Gulong Spring (Ancient Dragon Spring.).It was said Huiyuan came to Mt. Lushan and decided the location of Donglin Temple. He was not sure where best location is. Then he used Buddhism Cane to knock the floor and prayed: "show me the spring if it is the right place.” Then the spring appeared. During long drought, Huiyuan prayed for rain by chanting the sutras beside the spring. He saw a snake coming out of the Spring and then came the heavy storm. Hence, the spring was also called Ancient Dragon Spring. Later on, an official paid a visit to the Temple, whose eloquence was admired greatly by Huiyuan, saying that his words flowed just like the Spring. Thus the Spring was renamed as Wisdom Spring. Because of this, the site drew great interest from tourists, who would throw coins into the spring and make wished for more wisdom.
Tourists have the chance to share vegetarian food with monks in the temple. Entering the dining hall, men sit in lines on the right side and women on the left. The monks stand in two lines reciting the Buddhist scriptures, kowtowing toward the Buddha and playing religious music. Tourists must not make any noise when eating. If they want more food, they can draw circles in their bowl with their chopsticks and the monks will help them. When the dinner is finished, monks will chant scriptures again to request the Buddha bless the tourists. The entire process is sacred and solemn and provides tourists with a sense of the culture of the Buddhist religion.
There are many sites of historic interests in Donglin Temple including Chumu Pool, Sanxiao Hall, Huxi Bridge, Wisdom Spring and Upward Tower(five Buddhist beads are worshipped inside.) and Under Tower(also called Yanmen Tower, the Tomb of Huiyuan .In addition, there are several ancient trees with more then 1,500 years such as pines, camphor and willows etc.
Location:Donglin Village, Saiyang Town
Entrance Fee: Free
Transportation: Take No.101 bus and get off at Shilidajie stop. Then take shuttle bus and get off at Donglin Village: Walk about 1,000 meters, the Temple will be in sight. Or you can take Taxi which will bring you to the Temple directly. (Fare: RMB 35)
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