06/17/2008 08:06
Gentle offerings in Genting Highlands
Pay it forward: Hundreds of local and foreign devotees, including those from Vietnam, visit Chin Swee Caves Temple annually, where people are encouraged to do good things or charity work to benefit others.
Restaurants, fair ground rides and casinos all provide Malaysia’s Genting-City of Entertainment with endless sources of instant gratification, but the popular holiday resort also has its spiritual side.

The temple is among a host of attractions at the Resorts World Bhd, including the longest cable-car in Southeast Asia, the Genting Skyway, a golf course, and sun, sea and sand at Awana Porto Malai resort on Langkawi Island. The complex also holds cultural festivals, such as last month’s Charming Viet Nam Week, which showcased a variety of Vietnamese specialities, including drum shows, mua non (conical hat dancing), and displays of ao dai (traditional dress) and martial arts.

Taking a breather from all the excitement, we headed up into the Genting Highlands to have a look at the Chin Swee Caves temple, named after the Reverend Master Chin Swee. The deity was revered in China’s Fujian Province because of his supernatural abilities to summon rain and drive away evil spirits. A massive statue dedicated to him takes centre stage in the nine-storey temple.

The temple’s beauty is no secret, and hundreds of local and foreign devotees from neighbouring countries and territories including China, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam as well as Taiwan make visits to the site every year, according to the temple manager.

Exploring the building’s ten chambers is a truly enlightening experience. Everything from the countless statues and wall paintings are all loaded with symbolic meaning.

Adorning the walls are statues illustrating moral messages and warnings about what happens to wrong-doers when they go to hell. One statue tells people not to lie to or cheat others. If they do, they will have their tongue cut out. Another statue warns herb doctors not to give out fake medicines. The punishment is to be dipped in a cauldron of boiling oil. Another 24 statues, made in China, are engraved with stories of filial duty.

These moral warnings were powerful, one of our party members said. "The statues teach people how to treat others. They are a valuable lesson to learn."

As well as hell, there’s also a chance to get a glimpse of the heavens from the sky terrace, which is over 2,000m above sea level. Visitors can contemplate the peaceful surroundings from among the clouds.

A massive statue of Buddha stands behind the building. Unfortunately, of the 10,000 blessing lamps originally installed for those looking to be blessed by him, only 2,000 now remain.

Fortune plays a big part in the ornaments adorning the temple. Among them is the wall by the entrance gate. On it are painted nine dragons, each in a different colour. The dragons represent a different kind of luck. If a scholar met a yellow dragon he would be destined to become a high-ranking Mandarin official. In the hope of living a good life, people can pray to the Gods of Fuk LuK Sau. The trinity represent prosperity, authority and longevity and are usually found together.

The Seven Fairies represent similar good fortune. It certainly seems the stuff of fairy tales as you cross a bridge bearing their name over the small stream named Dragon Mineral Water. The water is said to have healing powers.

Holy healer

Reverend Chin Swee, whose original name was Chen Puze, was born in the district of Eng Choon, Fujian Province, China, in 1037 during the Song dynasty. Even as a child, he had shown a disdain for material wealth and left home to study Buddhism and meditate in monasteries.

After being ordained as a monk at a very young age, he went on to seek higher levels of enlightenment from other masters. Meanwhile, he also learnt to prescribe medicine for the sick, which he later became famous for. He was also renowned for his efforts to help the poor and build roads and bridges in remote areas with money he helped to raise.

In 1083, when Anxi County was hit by severe drought, he was believed to have summoned a downpour in Penglai Village in Anxi, bringing relief to the drought-stricken areas. After he took up residence in Penglai Village, the villagers built a temple on the scenic crag for him. Observing the refreshing springs at the crag, he named the temple Chin Swee Crag, literally Clean Water Rock. Chen Puzu then became known as Reverend Chin Swee.

Each year, particularly on the birthday of the temple, which falls on the sixth day of the Lunar New Year, many devotees from the Anxi Clan pay homage to the deity and seek his divine protection and blessings for the whole year.

Reverend Chin Swee died at the age of 65. According to legend, he was seen sitting in his usual posture for meditation for three days after his death. After those three days, there was no change in the colour and texture of his body. As the story goes, this extraordinary phenomenon confirmed the degree of enlightenment he had attained.

(Source: Viet Nam News)

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