It was a hazy morning with snowflakes drifting in the sky. A big bus carrying fifty-six people from the Avatamsaka Sagely Monastery (Calgary, Canada) headed towards the well-known Castle Mountain, followed by two other vans. Everyone’s heart was filled with sincere devotion for this pilgrimage. The Venerable Master once said, “This mountain is Manjusri Bodhisattva’s Bodhimandala.” Before we started, we had already heard about some auspicious responses and events that occurred when people climbed that mountain. Today when climbing it ourselves, we felt its sacredness and majesty even more.
When we arrived, we bowed nine times facing the mountain. Each of us put our lunch in our backpacks before heading up. The mountain trip took us six hours, and some of us were exhausted. However, the serenity on the way, the mighty trees clustering on both sides, and the peaceful and tranquil white snow soon transformed our weariness to blissful happiness. Shortly thereafter, the snowflakes ceased drifting as rays of sunlight shone through the woods. It seemed like an encouraging sign for us to keep moving ahead. Two people heard the sound of a big bell and thought there was a temple in the mountain. When we were nearly at the peak, because part of the road was covered with ice and was quite slippery, a few people continued to venture to the top while the rest turned back. The two lakes on the peak were already frozen. There was snow everywhere in sight. It was an awesome panorama. Around 5:00 PM, everyone finally gathered together to check-in at a nearby hotel.
Early next morning at 7:10 AM, we went to visit a lake in a high mountain – Lake Louise. The surface of this lake was flat like a mirror, and one could see the vivid reflections of many mountains in it. There was one which resembled a Chinese opera mask. It seemed to be acting out the myriad scenes of human life, telling of the vicissitudes of the years gone by. The color of the lake was aquamarine tinted with pale green. It resembled a blue crystal gem embedded in a white jade belt – graceful and elegant. Next, we drove a distance to another lake – Lake Marie, named after a daughter of a queen in England. Because she married a Canadian government official, they changed the original name of Lake Emerald to her name and it has been used ever since. Shortly after that, we drove to visit the “Bo” waterfall. Though it does not have the panoramic view of “ten thousand stampeding horses” like Niagara Falls, it has the vehement force of “striking and overcoming a thousand troops”. Endless waves seemed to continuously cleanse and scrub off the mundane dust and afflictions of its passing guests, transforming them into lucid lake water that gently flowed in emerald green ripples.
On our way, we stopped briefly at several other scenic spots. We even passed a tall mountain shaped like a reclining Buddha.
Eventually we entered the town of Golden. While sitting inside the bus and looking up at the sky, I discovered a seven-colored cloud floating towards the upper left side. It was brilliant beyond compare. Shortly after, I saw a big dark cloud. When I took a close look, to my surprise, it became the image of a Bodhisattva sitting on a lotus flower. I hollered to everyone in the bus to look through the windows on the left side. Two people seated in front quickly pressed on their camera shutter to take a snapshot of this rare sight.
On the third day, we all woke up early in the morning to take the bus to visit the site of DRBA’s Bodhimandala in the town of Golden (no monastery has been built yet). The Venerable Master had said that the mountain was stationed and guarded by the Great Golden Winged Peng Bird. The peak resembles the image of Maitreya Bodhisattva, and the flat land is two times bigger than the Sagely City of the Ten Thousand Buddhas. We bowed nine times facing the mountain and circumambulated the site once. At present, there is a layman living in a hut at the site. He told us of his experiences encountering bears several times and how he was saved from danger every time. I could not help but admire his courage. In the afternoon after we all had lunch, we departed separately. Some returned to Avatamsaka Monastery; the rest continued their travel to Gold Buddha Sagely Monastery in Vancouver. The mountain ranges receding in the distance and the bright lights shining from the myriad houses painted a beautiful picture to end this pilgrimage to Calgary.