The Golden Dome
–Wall Illustrations of Life Stories of the Buddha’s Six-Fold Perfection
The golden dome on the apex of the Chung Tai Monastery represents the priceless Mani pearl, a symbol of the perfect and luminous nature inherent in all sentient beings. On top of the dome is the Dharma wheel made of 9 layers of circular plates vertically connected and supported by a pillar inside. This carries a two-fold representation of our Grand master’s vow to propagate the Dharma and the different levels of cultivation to attain enlightenment. At its bottom are 12 petals of the lotus flower, which emanate 12 rays of light at night, symbolizing the 12-fold chain of dependent origination.
The ceiling design is the “hand of Chung Tai” holding up a flower in the center, surrounded by concentric layers of elegantly lined lotus blossoms, symbolizing the propagation of the Dharma to all sentient beings, helping them find the path to their original nature.
Circling the interior wall are Han Dynasty-styled etchings that depict stories of the Buddha’s diligent practice of the “six paramitas” through many lifetimes. The six paramitas are six-fold perfections of charity, moral conduct, tolerance, diligence, meditation, and wisdom, ultimately resulting in the attainment of Buddhahood. Reprints of some of these elegant etchings are exhibited here.
The First Paramita — Charity (Dana)
Once upon a time, there lived this Deer King, tall and handsome, with furs glowed five colors. He and his herd of thousands roamed free in the forest. One day, a royal king and his entourage discovered this forest ………
Long time ago, a Brahman was living in the mountain, striving to cultivate Buddhism by not committing any sins and treating all sentient beings with great compassion. One day, the Brahman was searching for food ……..
The Second Paramita — Moral Conduct (Sila)
In a forest long ago there was a white elephant king with six tusks who led a herd of 500 other elephants. The white elephant took the Three Refuges and vowed to assist all sentient beings to attain enlightenment. He had two wives, ……..
This is the story of a sage who achieved the stage of srota-apanni (stream-enterer). In one of his past incarnations, his parents owned a slaughterhouse. They wished their son to inherit the family business when he grew up. But he refused ….