Tsz Shan Monastery & Buddhist Art Museum, Hong Kong

Posted on June 4, 2019 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Tsz Shan Monastery

 

Of course we all know this: money can't buy you happiness. But for Li Ka-shing, Asia's riches man, money can buy him a Buddhist Monastery, and possibly nirvana. I have wanted to visit Tsz Shan Monastery funded by the Li Ka Shing Foundation since its opening four years ago. However, the online booking system only permits visitors to book one month in advance and it was always fully booked when I tried. After learning about the opening of the new Buddist art museum in May, I was determined to pay the site a visit. And finally, I was able to book a morning slot – honestly I was a bit surprised by the popularity of this monastery.

Then I had to work out how to reach there, as it is located in the rural parts of Tai Po under the hills of Pat Sin Leng. I opted for public transport, taking both MTR and train, followed by a taxi ride uphill from the train station. It was easier than I had expected.

 

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

 

The Tang dynasty-style monastery covers 500,000 sq ft of land, took over 12 years to build and costs HK$3 billion (US$384.6 million). It features a 76 metres (250 feet) tall bronze-cast statue of Guanyin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, which is twice the height of the Big Buddha on Lantau Island.

The layout of this monastery reminds me of Chi Lin Nunnery, which is another Tang style Buddhist temple located in Diamond Hill. It is one of my favourite spots in the city, and I particularly like The Nan Lian Garden, a Chinese classical garden also built in the style of the Tang dynasty.

There is no scenic garden at Tsz Shan Monastery because its location is scenic enough. According to Feng Shui principles, a house is more valuable if it faces water while backed by a hill or higher land; this probably explains why this site was chosen.

 

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery   Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

 

Although I complained about the online booking system, I also appreciated that the limitation of visitors policy has helped to keep the place sparse and tranquil. In a city where you are constantly being bombarded by noises, you are most likely to experience serenity here. And best of all, there is no incense burning here, so it is smoke-free, too.

Tsz Shan features a Grand Buddha Hall, a Universal Hall, a Great Vow Hall, a lecture hall, and a new Buddhist art museum which opened only a few days before my visit.

 

Tsz Shan Monastery   Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

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Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery   Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

 

Located underneath the Guan Yin Statue, the 24,000 sq ft museum houses precious Buddhist artefacts and objects from different parts of Asia, and many of which come from Li Ka Shing's personal collection. This is the first and only museum in Hong Kong that is dedicated to Buddhist art and relics. The Museum is set within a circular enclosure with very dim lighting, and there are staff scattered around to explain the history and origins of the artifacts. The exhibits comprise 100 Buddha statues and 43 hand-copied sutras on permanent display. Visitors can scan the barcodes near the artifacts with their smart phones and download the information to learn more about the works. I am not a big fan of this technology as the lighting there was too dim to read, and I couldn't save the info to be read later either. I think the museum should have some printed information for visitors to learn more about the historical significance behind the artifacts if their aim is to educate the public.

 

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery   Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery   Tsz Shan Monastery

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Tsz Shan Monastery   Tsz Shan Monastery

Tsz Shan Monastery

Inside the Buddhist Art Museum

 

Although there are an estimated 1 million Buddhists in Hong Kong, according to the Hong Kong Buddhist Association, many of them (esp. elderly) tend to associate Buddhism with superstitious rituals such as burning incense for blessings, and they do not practice mediation. With the interest in Buddhism is growing in recent years, mindfulness and meditation have sparked the interest of the younger generation. At Tsz Shan Monastery, they offer activities such as meditation and sutra copying, educational workshops, as well as seminars, which hopefully would make Buddhism more relevant to the younger generation.

At the end of my visit, I saw a group of anxious men (who looked like body guards) gathering, and then I heard a few people saying loudly: 'Hello, Mr Li! How's your health?' I turned around and saw a small old man dressed in black suit, smiling and waving to the small crowd nearby. It was Li Ka Shing. He seemed friendly and exchanged greetings with the crowd as he got into a golf cart-like vehicle. According to some reports, this monastery is rumoured to be Li's (90) final resting place, and if this is the case, then he has found the perfect spot. Who needs happiness when money can buy you serenity in your afterlife?!

 

Tsz Shan Monastery

 


This post was posted in Hong Kong, Architecture, Nature, Buddhism & meditation, Art, Buddhist art and was tagged with Hong Kong, architecture, nature, Buddhism, Buddhist art, Tsz Shan Monastery, Buddhist art museum

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