Housemaid’s knee, a condition caused by too much time scrubbing floors, is the very least two Buddhist monks can expect from their up and coming trek of 500 miles on their knees to China’s holiest of shrines.
Masters Zhiyuan and Hanliang expect that their holy trip will take some two months as they stop along the way to visit 99 temples. Their destination is the Putuo Mountains in eastern China and the statue of Guanyin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy.
Guanyin is often depicted as a young woman holding a vase and pouring out water to save the multitude. She is the most worshipped figure in Chinese Buddhism and her name means, “observing the sounds.” This refers to the belief that she would always observe the sounds of the world around her and listen to requests from her worshippers.
Some helpers from their home temple in Ganlu, southern China, claim that the two pious monks plan to spend each night under the stars in sleeping bags without even a tent for cover.
“ When they reach the goddess, they will crawl and then every third step they will stop and bow as a sign of respect to the goddess,” explained one monk from their temple.
It can only be hoped that a goddess of mercy will appreciate this painful sacrifice. For believers, surely, she will, but for most of us observers, with all due respect, these two holy men better bring some big band-aids and lots of iodine because she is not likely to have them on hand!