Sitting Room

Thursday, February 08, 2018

A Small Meditative Guide to the Foz do Iguaçu Chen Tien Buddhist Temple

In short: In this visit you will see statues representing:  

Three Buddhas

Four Boddhisattvas

Four Celestial Kings

Two Enlightened Children

Eighteen Arahats

Guardian Lions

Buddhism has three major world schools: Theravada, Vajrayana* and Mahayana. The Chen Tien Buddhist Temple of Foz do Iguaçu belongs to the Mahayana school of Buddhism, the one with a great presence in China, Japan and other Asian countries. Within Mahayana Buddhism, the Chen Tien Buddhist Temple of Foz do Iguaçu belongs to the Pure Land Buddhism. Pure Land is a place created by the mind of Amitabha Buddha to whom the Temple is dedicated. The  Amitābha (Amitabha) also known as Amida  is a Heavenly Buddha, existing as an enlightened Being for many ages and many other world systems long before the appearance of Siddhartha Gautama, Buddha Sakhyamuni – the Historical Buddha who founded Buddhism in recent times (circa three thousand years). The mantra of Amitabha is Namo Amituofo in Chinese. In Japanese: Namu Amida Butsu. In Sanskrit Om Amithabada Hri!

MilaPusa (Mi Lè Pú Sa) Buddha and Guardian Kings
Milè Púsa, the Smiling Buddha or the Maitreya Buddha. This was the first statue to be built on Temple ground back in 1996. The smiling Buddah sits on a large platform with his back turned toward the Temple as He seems to be looking at Ciudad del Este, Paraguay and at the International Friendship Bridge, right across, that physically binds the two countries – Brazil and Paraguay. Buddha Maitreya is also known as the Future Buddha or the Buddah of a future coming next birth. His mission will be to restore the Dharma - the doctrine and practice of the spiritual path in case they happen to be corrupted. The image of MilaPusa is protected by four ferocious-looking creatures. They are the four Celestial Kings protecting the ambiance from all imbalance-generating energies. 
The Sakhyamuni Buddha
The Sakhyamuni Buddha is known as the Historical Buddha who lived about 500 years before Christ. He belonged to the Sakhya tribe. Muni means wise. Sakyamuni is then the Sage of the Sakhya people. He was born as a prince, son of King Shuddhodana Gautama and Queen Maya. His name was Siddhartha Gautama. Upon reaching adulthood he abandoned the kingdom and set out on a journey in search for answers about life, mainly the cause of suffering and the truth about the Universe. After years of meditation and silence under a tree called Boddhi he met enlightenment. His message on enlightenment spread throughout India and from India to China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar) and the world. In Mahayana Buddhism, he is considered to be the last Buddha until Milà Pusa or the Maitreya Buddha return. In the temple He is represented by a sizable statue of the Reclining Buddha.
The Great Amithaba Buddha
Amitabha or Amituofo (in Chinese) is a Heavenly Buddha. In the Temple, the Amithaba Buddha is represented by the newest and largest statue on display. The 10 meter-high (nearly 30 feet) bronze statue weighing ten tons. it was brought disassembled from China and patiently reassembled in Foz do Iguaçu in 2014. Many thousands of years and world systems ago, Amithaba was a king who renounced his kingdom and became a monk. He decided to become a Buddha with the intention of creating a "Budakshetra" – a Buddhafield, a paradise through his deeds and thoughts over countless lives. Rebirth in the Paradise of  Amitabha is the main desire of devotees of Pure Land Buddhism. 
The Four Celestial Kings
The four heavenly kings placed strategically around the image of Buddha Mila Pusa are: Dhatarastra, Virudhaka, Virapaksa and Vaisravana. Each one brings an instrument used for assuring protection and defense to the ambiance under their care.

King Dhatarastra
(Dhritarashtra) represents balance. He brings a musical instrument in his hand. In order to produce music, the strings of an instrument must be ‘balanced’ as far as fine tuning and intonations goes. If strings are too tight or too loose, they will not produce music which is in itself a symbol of harmony. Dhatarastra is the Celestial King who rules the Eastern direction.

King Virudhaka
King Virudhaka carries a sharp sword that he uses to cut off ignorance. Recurring theme that includes illusion. It protects one who lives a life of virtue and astounds all the threats against the Dharma (teachings and ways of life). Virudhaka is the Celestial King who rules the South Direction

King Virapaksha

King Virapaksha brings a snake and a dragon. Again the call is for balance and adaptability. The Dragon represents strength. The snake is a symbol of the ability to adapt to various environments. Virapaksha is the Celestial King who rules the Western Direction
King Vaisravana
King Vaisravana wields a umbrella which he  uses to protect the area under his care from ignorance that seems to rain on the Earth. He also brings an Asian-styled tower in his other hand since the tower in its protective role is associated with good things, good fluids and good energy. Vaisravana is the Celestial King who rules the North Direction.

Curiosity: Foz do Iguaçu, he city where the Buddhist Temple has been built is located in the Westernmost region of the State of Paraná, Brazil. Whereas  Ciudad del Este which means City of the East, as the name implies, is located in the Easternmost region of Paraguay. A place where East meets West. A meeting of directions.

The four Boddhisattvas
In the most classical sense a Bodhisattva is "someone who reaches the border of Nirvana, but chooses to remain in this world in order to help others attain enlightenment. Anyone devoted to finding the "Buddhic state" is on the way to becoming a Bodhisattva. In the temple yard you will see statues honoring the four great bodhisattvas venerated by
Pure Land Buddhism. They are:  Samantabhadra, Manjushri, Avalokteshvara e Ksitagarba.
Bodhisattvas represent the chief qualities of a Buddha:

Avalokteshvara - Great Compassion
Manjushri - Great Wisdom
Samantabhadra - Great Love and Perfect Activity
Ksitigharba - The Great Vow to Save All Beings

Samantabhadra – Universally Meritorious. Associated with Buddhist practice and meditation, Samantabhadra represents happiness or goodness. He is often represented along with Sakhyamuni and the Bodhisattva Manjushri. Together they form the Sakhyamuni Trinity in Buddhism. Note that the three are honored with images at the Foz do Iguaçu Chen Tien Temple.

Boddhissatva Manjushri

Manjushri is the Bodhisattva who represents wisdom, insightful consciousness, intelligence and prajñā – the transcendental wisdom and realization of all Buddhas and enlightened beings. The images that represent Manjushri always show him young. Manjushri  has the appearance of a 16-year old young man which suggests that the enlightened mind will always have the freshness of youth. The blue lion over which he sits represents strength. He also may carry a sword with a jewel representing wisdom.

Ksitigarba – The Boddhisattva Ksitigarba is identified as the Bodhisattva of the Great Vow. He made it to the borders of Nirvana having no more need to remain trapped in the imperfect world. He could have gone to other worlds as a result of his virtuous and enlightened life. But Ksitigarba thought otherwise. He chose to remain in the densest dimensions full of suffering and desperation vowing not to leave until no one else was left in hell. "If I do not go to hell to help those beings suffering there, who else will? ... Until hells are empty, I will not become a Buddha." In his right hand Ksitigarba carries a staff that he uses to force the gates of hell and dense regions in order to rescue people left there.

Boddhissatva Avalokiteshvara or Kwan Yin
Avalokiteshvara - "He who sees the cries of the world". Is the bodhisattva who represents the supreme compassion of all Buddhas. She is also praised or represented as Kwan Yin or Guan Yin in Chinese. In Tibet she is known as Tara. The mantra of Avaloktessavara is Om mani padme hum. The Mantra is well known and used by Buddhists and non-Buddhists around the world. The Che Tien Temple has two images of Avalokteshvara – one being the Avalokteshvara with Three Faces and the Avalokteshvara in the Kwan Yin aspect. Kwan Yin’s mantra in Chinese is: Namo Dah Bei Kun Shih Yin Pu Sah
The children who have achieved enlightenment

San Zhai Thon Zh

Long Nü

Long Nü and Shan Cai Tong Zi were two Beings who attained enlightenment or Buddhahood while still in their childhood. They are the Buddha Children. The girl, Long Nü, daughter of the King of the Nagas, was disciple of the Bodhisattva Manjushri that represents the wisdom. In the temple the two statues of the Buddha children are next to the image of Avalokteshvara of Three Faces.
San Zhai Thon Zh (or Shan Cai Tong Zi) also known by the Sanskrit name Sudhanakumara received instructions from 53 teachers in his childhood. Remembering that sometimes good disciples study 12, 20, 30 years with a master, we can see how bright and developed of the child-disciple was.
The Temple

The 18 Arahats
Two arahats guard the entrance to the temple hall open to visitation

The main building of the Chen Tien temple houses statues or images of the 18 Arahats or "the 18 worthy ones." They are beings of high spiritual stature who are very close to reaching the ultimate goal of human evolution and are close to the early stages of Nirvana. Their number in Mahayana Buddhism is 18. One of the obligations of the Arahats is the defense of Dharma, Buddhist teachings, until the arrival of Maitreya Buddha. The Arahats are behind the Bodhisattvas on the journey to enlightenment.

Attention: You are allowed to enter the hall where the Arahats are. Silence is required. No photographs allowed. The correct thing to do is to take off your shoes before entering the temple. If you do, do not leave them in front of the entrance. Position them neatly on one side of the door. Inside this temple hall, there is a place where visitors can leave prayers and light small candles. Both the paper to write the prayers on and the candles can be bought from the temple shop. Each statue is clearly identified. Due to restricted access, it may not be possible to get close and see all the names. It is a place that demands a concentrated, truly meditative presence. There's always a soft music. There is also a bench where Buddhist visitors can sit and pray. Access to the second floor of the temple is restricted. Religious services always take place on Sundays but are not open to the public. Those who wish to participate must communicate their desire via e-mail first. Space is limited. Do not forget to sign the guestbook.

The Buddhas Square

In the Buddha Square, one of the most distinctive aspect of the Temple, there are 108 Amitabhas. The number 108 is very important. This is the number of pieces of a Hindu or Buddhist japamala (rosary) and is also the number of times the mantra should be chanted or recited. In different Buddhist and esoteric non-Buddhist schools there are mentions of 108 feelings, 108 temptations, 108 opportunities in life for those who seek enlightenment. The sugestion is that you pass by the Buddhas in the Courtyard with full awareness of what you are doing. If possible thinking or reciting the mantra 108 times.(The number of statues in the patio may not always be 108 due to maintenance and configuration).


Visiting hours
Tuesday to Sunday, 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Temple shop

- Souvenirs in all price ranges
- Candles and prayer paper
- Books or leaflets on Buddhism
- Contributions are accepted
- Lots of peace.
Temple Address: Rua Josivalter Vila Nova, 99, Jardim Califórnia, Foz do Iguaçu

How to get there
Tour companies organize group or private tours.
The Temple is included in the open deck bus City Tour itinerary run by Loumar Turismo Co. Taxis are widely used by visitors. In case you are driving from city center, follow Avenidas (avenues) Juscelino Kubitscheck (JK) and Tancredo Neves Northward in the Itaipu direction. There are signs reading “Templo Budista”. Hundreds of travelers both Brazilians and non-Brazilians use
the local transportation  service to go to the Templo. The bus used is Line 103 (Jardim das Flores - Porto Belo (Jardim Califórnia). This a circular line which means there is no terminal on the Jardim California / Porto Belo end of the itinerary. Bus drivers and the person on board to whom you pay your ticket will both let you know where to get off.
The Jardim California is a ‘bairro’ (neighborhood) in the Porto Belo Area of Foz do Iguaçu. It is a simple area inhabitted by mostly hard working people who strive to make ends meet. People have developed a good relationship with the temple and its visitors. As far as safety for tourists goes the ocurrence of thefts of tourists is rare. We suggest that you avoid exposing cameras, jewelry or cell phones. Make sure to let the driver and the person collecting fees in the bus know that you are heading to the temple.      

Language information
Due to the existence of a sizeable population of Latin Americans of Japanese and Korean descent besides visitors from all over the world, we offer transliteration  of the name of  Amitabha and the four Bodhisattvas in Sanskrit, Chinese,  Japanese and Korean.

Sanskrit                Chinese           Japanese            Korean

Amithaba             Amituofo       Amidabutsu         Amita Bul

Maitreya              Milà Pusa      Miroku                Mi Rug Bo Sal    

Avalokiteshvara     Kwan Yin      Kanno                Gwan-eum  

Samantabhadra     Puxian          Fugen                Bohyeon Bosal

Manjushri             Wenshu        Monju                 Munsu Bosal

Ksitagharba          Dìzàng          Jizō                    Jijang

Text and photos by Jackson Lima

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