It is always hypnotizing to be in a Buddhist temple. I will never get used to it. Each time I am in a temple I shut up and gaze at the statues and take in all details about the temple, but one thing I also cannot resist is try to capture that golden beauty on film.
And that is an issue not just for me, but for many tourists and temple minders.
|Atop the Hanging Monastery in Datong, Shanxi|
I have been to many holy sites in China, The Jaded Buddha Temple in Shanghai, The Grottoes in Datong, Temples atop Mount Tai in Shandong to list but a few.
You are not following. To take pictures inside temples or not to, that is the question.
In some temples, like the Jaded Buddha Temple, they allow you to take photos of replica statues not the real one, in Datong, they apparently prohibit only those statues inside the caves and the rationale I hear is that camera flashes might damage them.
As someone who is not Buddhist and someone who grew up in a Christian home, I still have issues with snapping away at the Buddha even when given the go-ahead.
I have never seen a Christian snap a photo from inside a mosque or a Buddhist walk past a church and fire his lens at the statue behind the pulpit.
The dilemma continues. Why are we walking around in temples with cameras? Who allows us to come into the temples? I have never seen a group of tourists walk in on a church sermon.
Well, who allows us, tourists, to get into these temples? They actually have gate fees for most of the prominent temples I have seen in China, huge moneys get collected to allow you to go and see the statues of Buddha and the artwork therein.
At the Jaded Buddha Temple in Shanghai they bar you from taking photos of the precious imported statues of the Buddha but you can buy water stacked next to the statue or you can ‘taste Buddha’s Tea’ in the next door.
This begs another question, are these commercialized temples any holy? And is a statue of Buddha which is far from his grave or birthplace any holy?
|Muta at WutaiShan, Shanxi, China|
Should we back off from these sites and let the monks and believers practice their religion in peace?
Maybe Buddhism is just a very tolerant religion. Or maybe they need money from tourists to maintain these sites.
In the end, I end up clicking away and even posing in front of the statues, it is too precious not to have a backup on the camera.
It is also because the followers of this religion are not maniacs, no one will get blown up or reprimanded, after all Buddha would definitely allow selfies with admirers especially if it was after meditation hours.