The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas! Seems named as if it”s a giant tourist attraction, but in reality it”s a quiet religious community and monastery long established outside of Ukiah. We visited CTTB — non-Buddhists are welcome to walk around, and should dress and behave respectfully.
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Entrance to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
Vehicles enter the City limits through dramatic golden-arched entrance gates, then drive through a pleasant, 80-acre community nestled at the base of Wonderful Enlightenment Mountain (geography, roads, and structures have been given aspirational and uplifting names). The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is comprised of many buildings, interspersed with parks and walkways, and resembles a college campus.
Buddhism regards reality as ever-changing, manifesting transient states and fluid concepts of ownership and identity. The origin of CTTB is an almost mythic tale of pain and healing, thirst and quenching, death and rebirth.
The Chan Buddhism monk and founder, Venerable Master Hsuan Hua (1918-1995), said: “the causes and conditions for the establishment of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas were predetermined limitless eons ago.” The site was once a hospital complex, built in the 1930s and owned by the state of California. In the 1970s, a severe drought and inadequate water supply hampered function of the hospital and forced the sale of the property.
The Venerable Master, seeking a place for his followers to worship and reflect, and for “propagating the Buddhadharma,” negotiated to buy the facilities and land.
The Buddhist congregation arrived in 1977. In 1980 they built the entrance arch. Over the decades the buildings have been renovated for various purposes. Travelers head first to the Administration building to sign in. The visitor center features a museum about the Life of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Jeweled Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
We learn that all the Buddhas appeared in the world “to help living beings develop, display, and become awakened to and enter the Buddha knowledge and vision.” There”s also a gift shop to meet many of your Buddha notions and needs, including Hsuan Hua teachings and lecture translations.
Keep an inner eye out for a building set back from the road that features a pagoda and a pair of Asian lion sculptures. That”s the Jeweled Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, a temple. In a previous incarnation, it was an indoor basketball court. Murals on the exterior depict the Four Great Heavenly Kings. Ceremonies may be underway inside, and you can enter and observe.
In the temple”s grid of alcoves on its four walls, the monks have placed 10,000 statuettes. Ten thousand is an arbitrary number for Buddhas. As the wisdom of the Venerable Master tells us, “the number of Buddhas here is as many as the grains of sand in the Ganges River.” Even regular goofs like us can become Buddhas, according to the teachings, so we didn”t spend our visit counting statues. And there may be an ancient truth that numbering each Buddha only increases our steps away from enlightenment.
Other items of note:
Food served in the restaurant and to residents is Mahayana vegetarian. Resident men and women are kept separated. Dress modestly when you visit. Due to the Buddhists” devout belief in the sanctity of all life, visitors are asked to not kill living creatures, such as insects. The Thousand-Handed, Thousand-Eyed Guanshiyin Bodhisattva statue is considered to be very responsive to thoughts and prayers. Be sincere.