- Join a monk ceremony.
Overview – White Horse Temple
White Horse Temple is a Buddhist temple in Luoyang, Henan that, according to tradition, is the first Buddhist temple in China, having been first established in 68 AD under the patronage of Emperor Ming in the Eastern Han dynasty.
The White Horse Temple is just outside the walls of the ancient Eastern Han capital, some 12–13 kilometers (7.5–8.1 mi) east of Luoyang in Henan Province. It is approximately 40 minutes by bus No. 56 from Luoyang railway station. White Horse Temple, although small in comparison to many others in China, is considered by most believers as “the cradle of Chinese Buddhism”. The geographical landmarks to the south are the Manghan mountain and Lucoche River.
The main temple buildings, a large complex, were reconstructed during the Ming (1368 to 1644) and Qing (1644 to 1912) dynasties. They were refurbished in the 1950s, and again in March 1973 after the Cultural Revolution. It has numerous halls divided by courtyards and manicured gardens, covering an area of about 13 hectares (32 acres).
The display plaques in Chinese and English give ample descriptions of the Buddhist deities installed in the halls. Significant statues include Śākyamuni Buddha, Maitreya (the laughing Buddha in China), the Jade Buddha, figures of saints such as Guru Avalokiteśvara, Amitābha and arhats and stone statues of the two white horses which brought the Indian monks to China and two mythical lions at the entrance.
The ‘Cool and Clear Terrace’ known as the ‘Qingliang Terrace’ is behind the main hall, the place where the original sutras were translated. This terrace is amidst a bamboo forest of old pine trees and has halls which are interconnected. Four sides of the terrace are piled with green bricks. The terrace also has the Kunlu Pavilion with halls on its east and west that house the statues of the two eminent monks, She Moteng and Zhu Falan. They were buried inside the White Horse Temple gate after they died here; the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower, in front of their tombs, were once prominent sights of Luoyang City.
In the courtyard ot the White Horse Temple, large burners are kept for worshipers to light incense sticks, creating a pungent odour. In the Main hall and other halls where images are worshiped, the altars are filled with fruit and other offerings made by the devotees. Multicoloured tapestry hang from the ceilings of the halls and lighted candles float in the basins, presenting a divine spiritual setting.
The smallest hall is known as the “Hall of greetings”. It is a relatively new building that was built during the 9th year of Guangho period as replacement to the original hall which was burned down at the beginning of the Tonghzi period. This hall has deified statues of three western paradise (Indian) saints. Amitabha, the founder, is at the centre and is flanked by Guru Avalokiteswara, the God of Mercy on the left and Mahashataprapta on the right.
The founders of the temple whose statues are worshiped in the ‘Hall of Six Founders’ belonged to the sect of Chan. The names of the founders as displayed in the order of their succession: Bodhidharma, the first founder who hailed from ancient India where he was the 28th generation patriarch preaching the Buddhist philosophy; the second was Huike; the third founder was Sengcan; the fourth was Daoxn, the fifth founder was Hongren, and the sixth was Huineng. Subsequent to Huineng, five schools of Buddhism and Seven Orders were established.