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Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery
Commentary on Buildings

Page One

Did you know the Hall of Universal Brightness was the first hall built in KMSPKS?

Hall of Universal Brightness houses three Buddha statues, symbolising the Buddhas of the past, present and future. Shakyamuni Buddha stated that the next Buddha of this human world would be Maitreya Buddha. The name Maitreya means “one who possesses loving-kindness” as he would willingly grant help to his devotees.

Other interpretations of the symbolism of the three Buddha statues include the three bodies of the Buddha: Truth Body, Bliss Body and Manifestation Body, and the representation of Shakyamuni Buddha in the centre with Amitabha Buddha and Medicine Buddha on his left and right respectively.

The Hall of Great Compassion, symbolising the great compassion of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva was constructed in 1980.

In the centre of the hall is the Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva of a Thousand Arms and Eyes crafted in the traditional Indian style by Italian craftsmen. The thousand arms and eyes symbolise his immeasurable vow to reach out in all directions to save all beings who faithfully recite his name or call out to him for help. In each hand is an eye of Wisdom, which guides his Compassion in action. Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is known for his skilful means of appearing in whatever form in the different realms of existence that one who is suffering is inclined towards to provide relief.

Standing to the left and right of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva are Sangharama Bodhisattva (Qie Lan Pu Sa) and Skanda Bodhisattva (Wei Tuo Pu Sa) respectively, Dharma protectors who vowed to safeguard and protect the Buddha’s teachings and his followers.

On the far left of the hall is Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (Pu Xian Pu Sa), whose name means “Universal Virtue” as he embodies the diligent practice of a Bodhisattva. He is accompanied by an elephant, which symbolises the Bodhisattva’s steadfastness and strength in the practice of the six perfections of generosity, morality, patience, joyful endeavour, meditation and wisdom.

Finally, Manjusri Bodhisattva (Wen Shu Shi Li Pu Sa), whose name translates to “Gentle Glory” on the far right of the hall, is the personification of the perfection of transcendent knowledge. He is known for his great wisdom in instructing Dharma practitioners and teachers. The lion he sits on symbolises his wisdom that is as far-reaching and authoritative as a lion’s roar.

The Hall of Great Strength is dedicated to the memory of Shakyamuni Buddha.

Above the Buddha statue is a sign that reads: The Treasure Hall of Great Strength (Alternative translations include: The Treasure Hall of Great Magnificence or The Treasure Hall of Great Hero.) The Buddha is considered the greatest of all heroes because he had conquered himself. There is a second sign that reads: Teacher of Men and Gods which is one of the ten main epithets of the Buddha has. A glass stupa in front of the Buddha statue houses a portion of the Buddha’s relics, which was presented to KMSPKS by a renowned Sri Lankan temple in 1998.

This statue of the Shakyamuni Buddha has the mudra (hand gesture) of calling upon the Earth to witness his complete Enlightenment and his victory over Mara, a demon who delights in sensual pleasure and seeks to have others indulge in them as well. The Unisha or protuberance atop the Buddha’s head is symbolic of the Buddha’s perfect Wisdom.

The Hall of Precepts is fronted by Rocana Buddha seated on a giant lotus flower surrounded by four great Bodhisattvas – Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, Manjushri Bodhisattva, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva and Samantabhadra Bodhisattva.

There are eight Vajrakumuras guarding at each corner of an octagon that symbolises the Noble Eightfold Path. These Dharma protectors are wrathful at the defilements entrapping all sentient beings.

On the walls and ceilings are depictions of celestial beings offering alms, music and precious items to the Buddha out of respect.

Located on the fourth level of the Venerable Hong Choon Memorial Hall is an awe-inspiring giant Shakyamuni Buddha statue in the Hall of No Form, measuring 13.8 metres from its lotus base.

The hall is mainly used for talks, seminars, symposia, meditation, and Dharma activities, including the Refuge-taking and Five Precepts ceremony. Visitors are welcome to do silent prayers or meditation, and experience the tranquillity in this hall.

Did you know KMSPKS’ Dining Hall is also named as the “Hall of Five Contemplations”? This is because before taking their meals, monastics reflect on the following 5 points:

1 - Every morsel of food, including the tiniest rice grain, results from the collective efforts of the countless beings.

2 - They have not performed enough meritorious deeds to be worthy of the meal.

3 - There should be no attachment or aversion to the taste of the food, whether good or bad.

4 - They take this food solely to alleviate hunger and thirst, and hence, they should not consume more than what is necessary.

5 - They resolve to use the energy harnessed from the food to practise the Dharma for the sake of all beings.

Flanking the left and right of the Hall of Great Strength is the Bell Tower and Drum Tower.

In Chinese Buddhist temples, the Sangha (monastic community) starts the day at the break of dawn by sounding a bell, followed by a drum, 108 times each.

This process is repeated at dusk in the reverse order. The bell and drum are also used for announcing special times throughout the day. It is said that when one hears the clear, resonating sounds of the bell and drum, one’s troubles are dispelled, which enables wisdom to grow and develop. It also induces thoughts of repentance for beings suffering in the unfortunate realms.

On the first level of the Bell Tower is an ancestral hall that commemorates the second abbot (1947-1990) of the Monastery, Venerable Seck Hong Choon. The hall enshrines a copper statue and tablet of the late Venerable for devotees to pay their respects.

A stupa is one of the most ancient icons of Buddhist art as a symbol of enlightenment. Stupas are commonly found in Buddhist monasteries and contain the relics and sometimes the entire body of an enlightened being or other sacred objects.

There are two stupas containing relics in Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery. The first stupa (Picture 1) commemorating our founder, Venerable Sik Zhuan Dao, is situated between the Hall of Amrita Precepts and the Hall of Great Strength.

The second stupa (Picture 2) is dedicated to the second abbot of the monastery, Venerable Seck Hong Choon and is located next to the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Both stupas are identical in appearance.

On 5 October 2020, Abbot Sik Kwang Sheng led the Sangha in the consecration ceremony of the newly completed 5-storey Meditation Hall in Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery. Surrounded by the solemn and dignified sounds of the Venerables’ prayers, the ceremony successfully concluded with immense joy and bliss.

Abbot Sik Kwang Sheng expressed his wish for more meditation classes and activities to be held in the new Meditation Hall. "I hope that KMSPKS can become the driving force behind more Buddhists learning and practicing meditation," he adds.

The monastery’s famous Dragon Pond is the perfect place for visitors to take a stroll or perform walking meditation. Relax amidst the therapeutic sounds of flowing water, chirping birds and picturesque view of beautiful greenery juxtaposed with the earthy stones.

According to the Sutras, "Kong Meng San (光明山)" is the name of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva’s (Guan Yin Pu Sa) Pureland. In the Chapter of "Entering the Dharma Realm" in the Flower Garland Sutra, it was recorded that the youth Sudhana (Shan Cai Tong Zi) had visited 53 great spiritual teachers and his 27th teacher was Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva who taught him the practice of great compassion. As a mark of respect for this significant encounter, KMSPKS conducts the Great Compassion Obstacle Elimination Ceremony on the 27th day of every lunar month.

The second part of its name, "Phor Kark See (普觉寺)", is translated as "the Monastery of Universal Awakening". This name serves as a reminder "to abide by the right understanding of the Dharma, to benefit all sentient beings, and to realise great liberation and Buddhahood."