The above photo was snapped in late April, 2004. On our second visit to Songshan in late August, 2007, the cave had a different appearance.|
08-25-007 嵩山 Songshan
Arrived before the Shaolinsi at 4pm today as the crowds began to thin out. Took the path to the left leading up 五乳峰 Five Breast Peak on Songshan. Down the mud and stone path come a few young Shaolin Wushu monks. Their practice includes running up and down the mountain. A gradual 5 minute climb and we arrive at the 初祖庵 Chuzuan, a small nunnary dedicated to Damo. From here the path gradually steepens and one climbs up the ubquitous stone steps one finds on Chinese mountains, the arduous work of unnmaed craftsmen who have plied their craft for thousands of years.
There are many flights of steps, the longest being 87 steps. One must climb about 278 to reach the cave where Damo sat staring down the cave wall for nine years. Above the entrance to the attractive small cave is Hu Jintao's current slogan proclaiming a harmonious society! It reads: 祈求: 風調雨順國泰民安, 和諧世界從我心做起. What would Damo think of this?!?!
To a westerner this is a reality check, reminding one that religion in China is under State control. However, one young Chinese girl at the cave site felt that this was a somewhat appropriate relationship, because Buddhism fosters harmony. And the slogan is a recognition that the Chinese government's intention is the same.
However, the problem with the slogan, in this instance, is that it may be being used by the Party to appropriate Buddhism for its own purposes.