When traveling, you never know what the day has in store and this point was highlighted recently while I traveled close to home, in Gainesville, Florida.
We were heading down a small backroad with some friends, and all of a sudden, I see a looming sculpture peeking out from behind the trees. From the backseat of the car, I ask,”Can we stop and see what that is??”
We pulled into the parking lot and I got out to investigate. A small sign near a building indicated we were at the A Nan Buddhist Temple. In the middle of nowhere in Gainesville there are HUGE buddha sculptures! Who knew?! I walked to the first sculpture and just stared at this massive Buddha. It sat in a huge leveled dirt area, looking like it was just installed. There was a primitive looking speaker that appeared to give information for donations but I did not try it. I just hopped out of the car with nothing but my camera, and I decided it was not good Karma to listen for free.
I explored the other 2 sculptures and was extremely intrigued by the whole scenario. When I got home, I did some research to find out more information about what I just saw.
Here is what I found out:
Thich Duc Thong, the chief monk at the pagoda, said the purpose of the statues, which represent three different elements of Buddhist practice, is to attract people of any faith to practice meditation at A Nan Temple. (wuft.org) Another temple member, Benny tram, hopes the statues encourage Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike to visit, study and reflect there. (Gainesville.com)
The A Nan temple has spent 3 years to get these sculptures to Gainesville from Vietnam and the project cost about $500,000, including transportation costs. Before the sculptures were ever made, the granite stone was blessed.
There are four statues in the park:
The first statue is a 28-foot-tall sitting Buddha, a symbol of enlightenment and the escape of suffering.
The second statue, a reclining Buddha and a 45-foot-tall representation of Quan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of compassionwill be located in the center of the park.
The third statue is a 33-foot-long statue of a sleeping Buddha that signifies his passing away.
There was no information about the 4th sculpture, but I am guessing it was approximately 12 feet or so .
If you are ever in the area and are a little intrigued, here is the address: A Nan Temple, located at 2120 SE 15th St.