The Jade Buddha for Universal Peace is in Grape Day Park in Escondido this week as part of a world tour.
Photo by Alison St John
Above: The Jade Buddha for Universal Peace in Grape Day Park, Escondido. Jan, 2011
Amid the grass and birch trees of the park, three monks in orange robes chant in unison, facing the towering green seated figure -- reportedly the largest gemstone jade Buddha in the world.
Chinh Dang is a member of the local Buddhist community. Originally from Vietnam, he now works for the Navy. He said the statue is attracting people from all walks of life.
“With our society now, with all of the pressure around us, we need to learn how to relax our mind,” he said. “We need to practice peace in our life.”
There are three Buddhist monasteries in Escondido. Many of the monks came from Vietnam.
So many people visited the jade Buddha when it was in an Escondido temple last year that this year the city moved it to the park where there’s more space.
Homeless people on nearby benches watch from a distance. Dang said this will be the last chance to see the Buddha before it returns to Australia, where it was originally commissioned.
Wendy Barker was on her way to the bank when she stopped off for a moment of contemplation.
“I’m not Buddhist,” she said. “Never seen a Buddha that big, but it’s just really beautiful and anything that’s for peace, you’ve got to love it.”
Kate Bowls made a special visit.
“Hearing their chanting and seeing the altars, it’s so beautiful to the eye,” she said, “and with so much suffering, and the hard economic times, it’s taking us all back to what’s most important – peace in our own lives and peace in the lives of others.”
The Jade Buddha for Universal Peace will remain in the park until next week. It will preside over the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year celebrations on Wednesday and Thursday.