Once in a while something really special comes along. One such thing is the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace which stopped in Seattle on its world wide tour. I decided to visit on the penultimate day of the local stop.
I was totally unprepared for the experience. Not in an intellectual sense. After all I had done a little research and knew many facts about the Jade Buddha, the discovery of the 18 ton gem quality boulder in Canada, the carving in Thailand, its 8 foot height, the tour schedule and so on. (For more facts visit the official site)
I had planned to visit on a weekday in an attempt to avoid the inevitable crowds that gather at such an unusal sight. But my schedule prohibited. I found myself there on Saturday with hundreds and hundreds of people. Once I had negotiated the parking, no small feat in itself, I followed the crowds through the dragon gate into the courtyard. There had been a brief glimpse from the street as the traffic police pushed the cars by as fast as possible. But actually walking into the enclosure was overwhelming.
I was unprepared for the din of vendors, people, music both live and recorded. The riot of colors from flowers available for purchase to make an offering to the Buddha, souvenirs of all kinds, the pyramids of snack foods were amazing. The smells of cooking, flowers, incense and offerings of fruit wafted everywhere. Children were running happily through the courtyard while the older folk with their canes manuevered through the crowds which seemed to part before them almost magically. Some people had staked out a seat to watch the goings on or just to take a rest. As the sun came out umbrellas went up to shade the ladies. The whole scene reminded me of the Italian saint’s street festivals back in Connecticut, minus the firecrackers.
And there in the middle of it all, ensconced in a pavillion on the steps of the Co Lam Pagoda, surrounded by an amazing array of flowers was the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace. An oasis of calm in the midst of the happy chaos. People lined up along the edge of the courtyard waiting for their opportunity to light incense, make their offerings and give honor. It was a world separate from all the Buddha looked down upon.
There was no fighting that day, I never even heard a child cry during the hours I was there. There was happiness, reverence, peace, energy, and at that time and in that place there truly did seem to be universal peace.
Although this Buddha has departed for Portland, the next stop on the tour, the temple itself is worth a visit. There are many other things to see in the courtyard. I’m sure you would be welcome.