Wisdom Path in Hong Kong Lantau Island
After the morning of appreciating Tian Tan Buddha, we had a very good lunch at Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant. As we had dessert at the deli outside the restaurant, we took advantage of the moment to rest a while.
Soon enough, we were energized, and ready for our next adventure. We read about the Wisdom Path, and were eager to see it.
About Wisdom Path
Wisdom Path features thirty eight (38) wooden monuments that are eight (8) to ten (10) meters tall. Each of these monuments, also called wooden steles, have Chinese calligraphy inscribed on them.
The words of the calligraphy form phrases that are verses from the Heart Sutra. The Heart Sutra is one of the world’s best known prayers. It is revered by Confucians, Taoists and Buddhists.
The thirty eight (38) wooden steles are arranged in a figure eight configuration. This is to symbolize infinity. This amazing work of art was created by Professor Jao Tsung-I, and completed in May 2005.
Finding the Wisdom Path
As we walked out of Po Lin Monastery, we noticed a pathway between Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. There were sign posts and one of them indicated that the pathway would lead to Wisdom Path. We walked about a few hundred meters before we found some signs that indicated the start of the trek to Wisdom Path.
At first, we were a little confused. There were so many colorful signs promoting different brands of drinks. And there was one that indicated a Tea Garden Restaurant.
There was a piece of stone just below all those signs. It took us a few seconds before we realized that it was a milestone that indicated the start of the trek to Wisdom Path.
And if you looked really carefully, below the Chinese Words, there is a faded arrow that pointed the way.
Journey to the Wisdom Path
We began our trek to Wisdom Path along a narrow track. On the sides were trees, shrubs and all types of greenery. We could hear some soft sounds of creatures in the distance, and the occasional bird calling. And were surprised there were not more signs of fauna. Were they shy because of our presence?
* Tip: The Wisdom Path trek is quite long. Stay on track by following the signs and the beaten trail. Do not go off the track.
Not far from the start point of the trek, we spotted Cherry Blossoms! We were quite amazed to find them there. More so because they were so unexpected.
As we ventured further, we observed that there were the greenery was lush, and flora abundance. The air was sweet and dry. All of this made the trek absolutely pleasant, and treat for the eyes.
* Tip: Do take time to appreciate the trees and flowers.
Some distance in, we came across what looked like an abandoned tea house. This could be the Tea Garden Restaurant that one of the signs indicated earlier. There was no one around, and it did not look like it was conducting business anymore.
* Tip: The Tea Garden Restaurant is another milestone. You know that you are on the right track when you see it.
Opposite the Tea Garden Restaurant, there was a small field of shrubs. We wondered what they were at first. Then we realized that it was a small tea plantation.
This was cool. It meant that the tea house used to serve tea that were grown there. So fresh!
The Wisdom Path
From the start of the trek to the Wisdom Path, it should take about twenty (20) to twenty five (25) minutes walk. Of course, it all depends on your speed of walking. Also, if you stopped to admire the flowers and tea garden, it would take a little longer.
After the nice and pleasant walk, we finally reached the Wisdom Path. We did not expect what we saw. It was awesome.
Another good thing about this attraction was that there were not many people here. We believed it was because not many people knew of this place. So, it was not crowded and very serene. The tranquility added a touch of spirituality to this place.
We started to walk the Wisdom Path.
Immediately, near the start of the path, there were the wooden steles already. As mentioned earlier, the wooden steles were about eight (8) to ten (10) meters tall. They look magnificent, don’t they?
From the photo above, you could see that they were almost as tall as the trees around them. Below is the first of the wooden steles at the Wisdom Path.
Below is a close up of the first wooden stele. It says that this is the Heart Sutra.
It must be noted that not all the wooden steles are of the same breadth. Here is one that is a little broader. The piece of wood used is natural, like a large log that had been sliced for a surface to carve the calligraphy.
As we walked along the Wisdom Path, we felt immersed into the experience. We were no longer watching like they were just an attraction. As we looked up to view each wooden stele, we felt such a sense of awe. And as we continued walking, there was almost a sense of losing oneself into the space, forgetting that it actually formed the infinity sign.
Every once in a while, we looked around. Everywhere we looked, there were slopes and mountains. We could understand why this place was chosen for this representation of the Heart Sutra.
We could not help but feel such a sense of appreciation by the beauty all around us.
Here is a photo to share how it looked when we gazed upwards from the base of one of the wooden steles. Against the sunny blue sky, it was colossal and breathtaking.
After the visit to the Wisdom Path, we exit from where we started. A look around, and we saw that to the left was a sign that said – Phoenix Hill. There were steps that invited people to explore the hill.
* Tip: The entrance to the Phoenix Hill is recognizable by a gateway and a statue of the Phoenix. It is on the left of the entrance of the Wisdom Path. Don’t miss it!
We climbed the steps, and after a short distance, we looked back. We were able to have a bird’s eye view of the 38 wooden steles of the Wisdom Path. Look closely and you could make out the infinity symbol cast by the wooden steles!
We walked slightly further up the Phoenix Hill, and were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the mountains and valley of the Lantau mountains, the islands and the South China Sea.
We spent some time appreciating the majestic view. Soon after, we made our way back to Tian Tan Buddha.
Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Outlying Islands
How to Get There
Go to MTR Tung Chung Station. Take Exit B. Then take the Ngong Ping Cable Car. This will take around 25 minutes.
Or from the same Tung Chung Station, take New Lantao Bus 23. This will take about 45 minutes.
Another way to get there is by Ferry, which you have to board at Central Pier 6. Take the ferry to Mui Po, then take New Lantao Bus 2 to Ngong Ping Village. All this may take around 40 minutes, minus wait time.
What is the Heart Sutra?
The Heart Sutra is a very popular sutra in Mahayana Buddhism. It has 260 words, and as such is the shortest sutra.
Its Sanskrit name is Prajnaparamitahrdaya. The meaning is The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom.
The sutra records the conversation that Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva has with one of the disciples of Buddha, Shariputra. They discussed the five skandhas that are form, sensation, conception, discrimination and consciousness. All of which are empty as Avalokiteshvara has observed, and thus became free from suffering.
We will not assume to know all there is about this lovely Heart Sutra. The above is just a brief explanation. For more information, it is best to read up more about this sutra from Buddhist websites, attend talks by monks about this sutra, read books about it, or visit Buddhist libraries.
If you have ANY questions about this post or Hong Kong, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.
Thank you for reading this.
Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,