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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Travel
Bridges
    2017-October-16  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

James Baquet

jamesbaquet@gmail.com

ONE of the many benefits brought to society by Buddhist monks was the building of bridges. In the simplest terms, the building of a bridge was an act of compassion, allowing local people to avoid ferry fees or crossing dangerous waters.

Secondly, engineering such a project, especially if pilings needed to be placed in the water, required skill and training, and monks were often better-educated than the general populace. In addition, bridges could be costly, and monks were able to generate cash by performing ceremonies or providing medical and other services, as well as draw upon the resources of their temples.

We find many accounts of travelers in pre-modern China describing bridge projects undertaken by monks.

But beyond all these practical considerations, bridges had a symbolic function. The world as we know it, with all its suffering and confusion, is termed “samsara” in Buddhist teachings. That other state, of unending bliss (or perhaps extinction, or release from suffering) is known as “nirvana.” And between the two stands a river.

And so the teachings of the Buddha (the Dharma) are called a bridge; the acts of compassion by the Buddha’s followers (the Sangha) are also bridges; and the very followers themselves, especially those who achieve the status of Bodhisattvas, are also called bridges.

Perhaps this is why so many temples feature bridges at the entry, sometimes crossing nothing at all. While these may just be decorative, they also have a symbolic function, as they carry the pilgrim or visitor across from this world into the Buddhist realm of the temple.

 

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