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Buddhadharma : Winter 2006
buddhadharma| 61 |winter 2006 rafters of its great buddha hall. And even though it was located near a dusty riverbed, the area around the temple was said to be miraculously clear, while nearby areas were tormented by constantly blowing dust. During the Cultural Revolution the temple was closed and three new occupants were installed: a sawmill, a cement factory, and a museum dedicated to revolutionary martyrs. Now everything but a portion of the museum has closed, and residents of the remaining buildings watch our explorations with bemused curiosity. All that remains from the original temple are some small stone monuments. A new buddha hall is nearing completion, but there are no other tem- ple buildings. Inside the buddha hall, some new buddha statues await unveiling, facing out the open front to the most striking feature of the area, a large mound of earth buttressed with a stone wall. According to history, both Bodhidharma and Huike expounded the newly arrived Zen dharma from this flat-topped knoll, known since ancient times as Dharma Expounding Terrace. Not far from Yuanfu Temple, at the north edge of the village, we encounter the remains of Kuangjiao Temple, Huike’s final resting place. Entering a high gate, we discover a broad patch of dusty earth and brush covering several acres, the front surrounded by masonry walls. At first glance there are no buildings; the whole expanse seems defined by desolation, with collapsed pillars and old statuary jutting from the earth haphazardly. Near the front of the site, a craterlike hole marks the spot where Huike’s burial pagoda once stood. Its bricks long ago hauled away to construct farm- ers’ huts and privies, only litter and broken incense urns and other half-relics remain. A hundred yards or so to the rear, at the back of the site, nobly sit big, white, alabaster buddha stat- ues of incongruously recent creation, appearing to wait patiently for a new hall to protect them from the elements. Now we notice the only real building on the site, a contemporary brick structure that looks good for storage. On closer inspection, we find it half-occupied by a resident caretaker monk who greets us cheerfully. His name, appropriately, is Guole (“Nation’s Happiness”). Guole explains that this is indeed the place where the Second Ancestor’s remains were interred after his execution. According to the records, his teach- ing of Bodhidharma’s Zen angered the entrenched Buddhist establishment. They denounced his her- esy to the king, and Huike was indicted. Convicted and condemned to death, he thus became not only the Second Ancestor but also the first martyr of Chinese Zen. Buddha statues at Yuanfu Temple, near Second Ancestor’s Village. Relic at Yuanfu Temple. Red Pine (left) with Guole, caretaker of Yuanfu Temple, and Andy Ferguson.