Sunday, 13 June 2010

Top 10 Buddhist Gardens in the World

The Buddha's Face Buddhism 101 Project sought to discover what it considers to the Top 10 Buddhist and Buddha gardens in the world. We hope you enjoy our just for fun inspirational list.If you have your own suggestions and ideas please feel free to add comments at the base of the Blog.

This is derived from the Buddha's Face Buddhism 101 Project - Buddha's in Gardens.

1. Totekiko Temple Gardens , Kyoto Japan

This Buddhist garden is one of five exquisite gardens at the Ryōgen,Temple Kyoto,in Japan. It was created in 1958, and is reputed to be the smallest of the 'major' Japanese rock gardens.

It comprises a small enclosed area, composed of attractive simple boulders which are placed on raked sand. These iconic rocks are then surrounded by concentric circles of gravel being connected by parallel ridges and furrows. This garden briefly receives the sun at around 12 o'clock each day, and is sometimes lightly dusted by snow in the winter. The garden was designed to represent a Zen saying of that the harder a stone is thrown in the pond , the bigger will the ripples be.

The temple grounds includes 3 other gardens called Isshi-dan, Koda-tei, and Ryogin-tei – the latter is a moss covered garden which is said to be the oldest garden in Daitoku-ji.

2. The Imperial War Museum Peace Garden , Lambeth,London UK

This wonderfully peaceful garden which is situated in the park alongside the Imperial War Museum in South London. The garden was designed and constructed to aid the propagation of world peace through the use of non violence. It has a Tibetan name which means “The Garden of Contemplation”.

Many Buddhist symbols are used throughout the design and layout of the garden.

A large pillar has words written in four languages which proclaims the Dalai Lama’s message about the vital importance of choosing the path of non-violence.

The garden’s design centres on the symbolism of the eight spoke Buddhist Wheel which represents the Noble Eightfold Path that all Buddhists must follow. Located within the wheel are eight stone seats in a circle which represents the eight principles in the Noble Eightfold Path. By sitting at the centre of the wheel become the central focus the garden.

At the garden's edge are trellis and Himalayan . This garden has been created to represent the elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water and is often visited by Tibetan Buddhist teachers when they are visiting London.

3. The Mahabodhi Temple Gardens , India

All religions have significant places of pilgramage associated with key events that took place during the life of the founder.Buddhism is no exception the Mahabodi Temple was constructed at the actual spot where the Buddha reached Enlightenment whilst sitting crossed legged under the Bodhi Tree. Most of the religious activities that take place at this sacred site do so in the large garden surrounding a huge stone spire. The garden is full of ancient and tall, shady trees and beautifully manicured lawns, monuments and marigolds.

Of course the holiest spot at the MahabodhiTemple is outdoors under a sacred Bodhi Tree. This actual Bodhi Tree has been grown from cuttings taken from a series of earlier Bodhi Trees and can trace their lineage right back to that of the Buddha himself where he sat and meditated 2,500 years ago. In an act of pilgramage and homage to their religions founder Buddhists come from all over the world to meditate and seek inspiration.

Throughout the Temple's garden you will people worshipping. This Bodhi Tree is where all Buddhist meditation began 2500 years ago.

Another common sight is to see people practicing Walking Meditation - walking slowly through the paths in the garden and which lead round the Temple garden -this is always done in a clockwise direction.

To the east of the Temple gardens is a beautiful Meditation Park which has many meandering paths for the practice of walking meditation and adjacent to the path are little marble platforms, where people can sit quitely and meditate - the garden is filled with the sounds from numerous of brown mynah birds.

To the south of the Temple is a large, rectangular Lotus Pool. Right in the centre of this pool is a statue of Buddha and the water teams with large catfish.

4. The Temple of the Peaceful Dragon ,Kyoto Japan

In North West Kyoto,Japan lies a stunningly beautiful and simple Zen temple garden.It is one of the major Historic Monuments of Kyoto and is a UN World Heritage Site.It comprises a dry landscape rock garden.

The rock garden was built during the late 13th Century and consists of raked gravel and 15 moss covered boulders situated so that when the garden visitor looks at the garden from any angle only fourteen of the boulders can be seen.

5. Sigiriya Temple Gardens , Sri Lanka

Sigiriya Temple Gardens , Sri Lanka is a World Heritage Site and is said to be the oldest surviving garden in Asia. It was originally built as the garden of a large residential palace only later becoming the temple garden of a Mahayana Buddhist monastery.

The current designed is thought to date from in the 5th century AD.

6. The Lumbini Garden, India

Another significant spot associated with the Life of the Buddha comes in at number six. This is the actual place where the Buddha was born and was for many centuries lost from the annals of recorded history only to re-discovered as late as 1896.The still sacred lake had earth banks constructed around its edges at the time of its re-discovery which have now been replaced with paved margin and steps - however as befits its heritage it remains a place of exceptional calm.

The garden also has a bathing pool of the Sakyas where the water is bright and translucent and reflective as a mirror and on its surface is covered with a mixture of flowers. This is the actual spot where the Buddha was thought to have been born. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

7. Kagyu Samyé Ling Monastery Gardens , Scotland

This Monastery and Tibetan Buddhist Centre is a located at Eskdalemuir, near Dumfries,Scotland.

The centrepiece Tara Healing Garden is dedicated to preserving and propagating medicinal herbs which are native to Tibet. The extensive and beautiful grounds also includes a Garden of World Peace, an organic kitchen garden, and along with greenhouses, a vinery and a peach-house and a traditional herb garden (The Tara Healing Garden).The garden is surrounded by stunningly wild and magnificent woodlands and arable land which are grazed by a herd of Yak.

8. Secret Buddha Garden, Ko Samui , Thailand

This amazingly simple and surprising Buddha garden is one of the most important tourist attractions on the Thai island of Ko Samui. It was designed and built in 1976 by a fruit farmer who was called Nim Thongsuk It was at the advanced age of 77 when he began his work on building the garden and for this reason it is also known as - “Uncle Nimm's Garden”.

The garden is surrounded by jungles and rocky mountains and is not that easy to discover as it is perched high on the mountain with stunning views overlooking the island down to the sea. The entire garden is filled with sculptures and statues representing human figures as well as those of various gods and Buddhas.

9. The Peace Pagoda and Peace Temple Gardens , Milton Keynes, UK

This garden was the inspiration of by Nichidatsu Fujii, a Japanese Buddhist monk who had worked with Gandhi intent on finding peaceful ways of opposing worldly government’s wrongdoings. After the horrors of the Second World War and the use of atomic weapons on Japan, he dedicated his life to campaigning strongly against the proliferation and use of nuclear weapons.

He lived to be 100 years old and the movement he helped to found has now built over 80 Peace Pagodas and Peace Gardens through out the world.

In the beautiful grounds surrounding the pagoda are well over a thousand cherry trees and cedars which have planted to remind us of the victims of all wars and conflicts..

At the left of the pagoda is a small Japanese rock garden , moss and bushes and a water lily pond full of carp.To the right of the Temple almost hidden away from view is little moss garden. Behind the Temple is a Zen rock garden complete with beautifully simple gravel images. Finally lying to the rear of the garden is a stupa.

10. Wenshu Monastery Gardens, Chengdu, China

This Chinese Zen Buddhist monastery was built in the Tang Dynasty between 605 - 617 and constitutes the finest preserved ancient temple in Chengdu.

It is set within splendid landscaped gardens and contains fine examples of religious Chinese architecture as for the hungry and weary tourist and traveller also houses a superb vegetarian restaurant.

The landscaped gardens are serenely beautiful and are immacuately maintained and kept clean.They are host to many trees and shrubs as well as iconic and spectacular water features.

The courtyards and gardens are deigned to appear to blend and coalesce into each other, which makes for a very quiet and meditative environment.

"A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden."

The Buddha

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