The exquisite white peacock, everyone’s favorite at the City of 10,000 Buddhas (CTTB), passed away. On July 26, someone discovered his pitiful remains close to the Dharma Realm Buddhist University Library and passed on the sorrowful news. His long white feathers were scattered on the sidewalk, silently bidding farewell to passersby.
In 1990, CTTB released a flock of colorful peacocks and a few rare white peacocks. However, this was the only white one that had survived. He staked out his territory around the Buddha Hall and the Ordination Hall. He traveled alone, but was occasionally seen with one particular colored peacock prancing in front of the Long Life Hall or perched atop the balcony overlooking the assembly as they made their way to the Dining Hall.
In the last few weeks, customers at Jyun Kang Vegetarian Restaurant have been asking, “What happened to the white peacock? Every time we passed the Buddha Hall, we used to see him there. He’s really beautiful.” When they heard about his unfortunate passing, they too mourned. Many guests who visit CTTB find the sight of peacocks spreading their splendid tail feathers one of the most happy and rare events, especially when the white peacock displays his tail feathers. People would stop in their tracks to admire him and tourists would continually take pictures. Someone even asked: “He’s pure white; how did you manage to dye him this way?”
I remember coming back to live at CTTB in 2000 for five months. During the evening mantra recitation after 9:00 p.m., I would observe him, by the light of the moon, fly up to the roof of the old boiler building facing the Buddha Hall. After the ceremony, we would see him nestled high up in a great redwood tree as we chanted Amitabha Buddha’s name on our way back to Joyous Giving House.
He was so dedicated to protecting the Patriarch Hall that he seemed to report to work at the same time every day, patrolling the door to the Hall, rain or shine. “He danced so long in front of the Patriarch Hall—and with rhythm too! I know he was bowing to the Master—using dance to make an offering to Him. The creatures at CTTB really have spirit!” comments one elderly lady as she remembers how the white peacock and two other peacocks twirled in front of the hall.
CTTB has put up a plaque for him in the Rebirth Hall for forty-nine days in gratitude to his contributions to the City. Although he was just a peacock, he was a part of CTTB and did his part in protecting the Bodhimandala. And although we grieve at his passing, we congratulate him for leaving his peacock body and thereby ending suffering and attaining happiness.