This afternoon I needed something to do instead of working on all those things I should be doing. So I finally went to the only Buddhist temple I’ve seen in town.
It’s kind of up a side road. Not very well publicized. They had a big truck sitting in front of the door that I had to do some serious clambering to get over. (Not really, but I did have to find a way around the unloading workers.)
Everyone I saw inside (all four of them) seemed really surprised to see me. They had to go look for the cash box and the tickets. There weren’t any comical clouds of dust they had to blow off them though. I was watching.
I wandered around taking pictures and enjoying the peacefulness. Only a couple of horn honks really made it all the way up there. There were a couple of old shaven headed nuns, but they didn’t want their pictures taken. They were very adorable, even if they did watch me like door-opening dinosaurs.
I love the bell in this picture. It was donated or something in 2002. But the best parts of it are the two phone numbers on the side (lower left quadrant of the picture). One’s a land line in Wenzhou (0577-65264-038) and the other’s a cell phone (13806801873). I guess the idea is that if you see it and happen to be in the market for a nine-foot tall bell, you’ll know who to call.
But it really got me pondering the sense of future history involved here. It seems like an advertising stunt that hasn’t thought about the implications of creating something that could last. Or does he expect to hand down those phone numbers with the business for hundreds of years?
Doesn’t the bellmaker hope this thing he has crafted will last longer than his phone number? Maybe it’s a cynical jab at a China that is changing so rapidly and tends to devour its history (I’m looking at you, Cultural Revolution. Are you and the Ming Dynasty passing notes and then destroying them? I’ll see both of you after class) that even things that used to last for hundreds of years will only be around for a lifetime, so why not fill it with advertising? Dignified posterity. Who needs it?
Are these phone numbers a Buddhist joke about the ephemerality of creation? I wouldn’t think twice about seeing the bellmaker’s name on there, but how much more does that matter in a cosmic/karmic sense?
Anyway, I can’t believe I’d been here more than a year before finally checking this temple out. Good thing I was procrastinating today.