Eighty-Eight Buddha Surrounding the Southern Platform 八十八座佛塔繞南台

Eighty-Eight Buddha Surrounding the Southern Platform


The South Platform is dedicated to the wisdom Manjushri Bodhisattva. Around the South Platform, numerous Buddha stupas stand tall, creating a magnificent landscape. Can you count how many stupas there are? There are a total of precisely eighty-eight stupas, a highly auspicious number.

So, why are there eighty-eight stupas on the South Platform? What special significance do these stupas hold?

In fact, the benefactors who initiated the construction of these stupas were among the first to donate to the establishment of Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden in Canada. Back then, Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden was nothing more than vast, untamed mountains and wilderness, devoid of any development. The merit of these benefactors, centred around their unwavering trust in Venerable Dayi, led them to decisively donate these stupas. With the merit generated by these eighty-eight stupas, Venerable Dayi was finally able to gather the initial funds needed to start the construction of the monastery.

As time has passed, many of the donors of these stupas have already passed away. Venerable Dayi is deeply grateful to these dedicated benefactors who made great aspirations. Therefore, he made a vow that, during the inauguration of Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden, every donor of the eighty-eight stupas would be invited before the stupa they donated, allowing them to witness the tremendous contribution they made and to express gratitude towards them.

What is special about the design of these eighty-eight stupas? All of the eighty-eight stupas are seven-tiered structures, standing at around 3 meters in height, commonly referred to as "seven-tiered pagodas." The bottom three tiers are hexagonal bases adorned with lotus relief carvings on all sides. On the front, there are inscriptions of the eighty-eight Buddhas' names and the names of the donors who contributed to the stupa. Above that is the upward-reaching lotus section, followed by tiers that recede like stairs, leading up to the bell-shaped stupa body. Within each tier, there are niches enshrining the images of the eighty-eight Buddhas, symbolizing the heart of the Buddha. The stupa finial, representing the Buddha's head, is composed of seven levels of discs and a jewel, creating a profound symbolism that captures the essence of Buddhism. These stupas are exquisitely carved, uniquely creative, and meticulously structured, making them masterpieces of ancient stupas.

In Buddhism, the Eighty-Eight Buddhas are comprised of the Fifty-Three Past Buddhas and the Thirty-Five Present Buddhas. The names of the Fifty-Three Past Buddhas can be found in the " Sutra Spoken by the Buddha on Visualizing the Two Bodhisattvas Bhaisajyarāja and Bhaisajyasamudgata," while the Thirty-Five Present Buddhas are mentioned in the " Sutra Spoken by the Buddha on the Inquiry of Upali Regarding Determination of the Vinaya." These Eighty-Eight Buddhas can serve as objects of confession and purification for sentient beings. Therefore, people can turn to them with repentant hearts, expressing their desire to mend their ways.

The "Sutra of Circumambulating the Stupa for Merit on the Right" states: "All heavenly dragons, yakshas, spirits, and others draw close and make offerings when one circumambulates to the right of the stupa." Circumambulating stupas enables all sentient beings to be free from descending into unfortunate realms, allowing them to encounter the Dharma and be shielded from harm. Pilgrims who come to the Eighty-Eight Buddha Stupas on the South Platform can walk around them with joined palms, concentrating their minds, leaving behind afflictions, freeing their spirits, and ultimately achieving supreme enlightenment. This is akin to what is expressed in the "Lotus Sutra": "If a person with scattered mind enters a stupa or a temple, and even utters the name 'Namo Buddha,' they have already achieved the path of Buddhahood!"

This is the story of the South Platform and the Eighty-Eight Buddhas.







《右繞佛塔功德經》雲:「一切諸天龍,夜叉鬼神等,皆親近供養,斯由右繞塔。」繞行佛塔能使諸天龍免於墮惡趣中,得以值遇佛法,所有眾生悉不能害。朝聖至南台八十八佛塔,同修們可合掌繞行佛塔,止心一處,拋開煩惱,釋放心靈,乃至成就無上正覺。這如同《法華經》中所說:若人散亂心,入於塔廟中;一稱南無佛,皆已成佛道 !