The 3rd Patriarch of Forshang Buddhism, Lee Sun-Don, is not only a Buddhist Master; he is also a world-famous contemporary artist renowned for his “Totemic Energy Art.” Master Lee first used painting to illustrate Buddha dharma in 2007, and his totemic energy artwork has wonmore than one hundred of recognitions in the international juried art exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale in 2009, the world’s most prestigious exhibit and the original biennale on which others in the world have been modeled. The Yuan-Dao Guanyin Temple and The Holy Thousand-Hand Guanyin Statueat Tamsui both come from Master Lee’s design. For the Holy Statue, Master Lee adds his totemic creativity to the traditional iconography of theThousand-Hand Guanyin: it is artistic and functional, modern and classic.
TheHoly Guanyin Statue is characterized by a sublime, compassionate look, which is very challenging in craftsmanship, for it is integrally molded.What is even more challenging is assembling – to piece together the main body, 36 big hands, and the many heads requires specially developed techniques. There are in total of 11 Buddha heads as the crown of the Holy Statue, with the largest one measuring 7 meters tall – this indicate that Guanyin is in fact a Buddha, even though in the name of bodhisattva.
At night, with the light shining from the back of the Statue, it is as if the glory lamp of the dharma universe.
The most striking and conspicuous characteristicof The Holy Statue at Tamsui is the hands. There are 36 big hands,called “True Dharma Illumination Buddha Hands正法明佛手,” and 1008 hands with eyes in the palms, called “Guanyin’s wisdom eyes and compassion hands觀音慧眼慈悲法手.” The one thousand hands witheyes are usually arranged into a form of a dharma wheel. Traditionally, the dharma wheel stands vertically on the back of the Guanyin, but Master Lee innovatively designs it to be placed horizontally on top of the lotus throne.Here the dharma wheel, 47 meters in diameter with 1008 hands in the array of concentric circles, serves as the“mount” or“carrier” of the Holy Statue on the one hand, and on the other, it signifies Guanyin’s virtue of delivering us to the Holy Pure Land. Each eye in the palm of the hand functions also as an illuminating device.
Of Guanyin’s 36 big hands, the primary two handsmake the Ultimate Dharma Seal before the chest, anther twomake the Meditation Seal over the crossed legs near the belly button, and the remaining 32 arms, pairedat right and left, reach out. The two hands in the abdomen hold the dharma vessel named “The Supreme Wish-Fulfilling Jewel upon the Fundamental Meditation Seal of the Dharma Universe法界根本定印無上如意寶.” For the 32 arms stretching out, each holds a distinct dharma vessel. These dharma vessels speak toBodhisattva Guanyin’s inconceivable power to subdue evilness and affliction; they signify also Guanyin’sinfinite virtues in the dharma universe.
In Buddhist iconography, the Buddha always sits upon the lotus throne, which symbolizes the Buddha’s Perpetual-Glory Pure Land, where is devoid of any affliction, filthiness, or bondage. By the carrier ofthe lotus, Buddha’s compassion goes wherever of the dharma universe.
For the Holy Statue’s lotusthrone, Master Lee takes both artistic and functional perspectivesinto its design. Breaking away from the traditional format, he fashions 2560 stainless steel pieces in different radiansinto128 lotus petals in two rows.The lotus throne turns into a dimensionaltotemic openwork, which will manifest a different look when viewed from a different angle. The openwork is also functional: It not only facilitates air circulation, but also allows the light to shine through.It is both artistic and energy-saving.
The pedestal of the Holy Statue is a four-story construction. The base floor is made of granite that signifies the spirit of naturalness and fortitude. Structured in decagon, it symbolizes also a Buddha’s mindset, the so-called “Ten Unlimited Minds” – namely, compassion, equality, joyfulness, gratitude, detachment, perseverance, humility, tolerance, fearlessness, and perfect enlightenment.
The widows on the 1st and 2nd floors are also out of Master Lee’s design: They are framed by different lengths and widths of carbon steel in order to fashion geometric totemic patterns. These totemic patterns are more than artistic, an infusion of the contemporary totemic art with Chinese classical flavor. They are, in fact, functional. Specifically, the totemic patterns are designed in a specific arrangement so as to direct the air flow and facilitate better air circulation – truly ingenious and creative.
The 33 Guanyin stone statues, each with its unique manifestation and compassionate vow, has beenthe conspicuous trademark of Yuan-Dao Guanyin Temple. To further this characteristic, the garden of the Holy Pure Land is designed also with 33 Guanyin statues but in bronze, and moreover, each statue will be adorned with Master Lee’s exclusive-developed totemic energy illustrations in openwork. At night the light shines from inside to bring out the uniqueness of the totemic energy illustrations, artistic and poetic.