UNDERSTANDING THE CHINESE BUDDHIST TEMPLE is a collection of annotated photos taken in 2009 and 2010 at Ching Kwok Chinese Buddhist Temple, located in Toronto, Ontario.
The book is arranged as a walk-around, featuring pictures of the main shrine hall, the main altar, all of the statues, close-up details of many statues, the various chapels, offering tables, paintings, ritual objects, decorative panels, and calligraphic scrolls. Each item is accompanied by an explanation of its iconographic meaning, context, fabrication and provenance. Chinese, Sanskrit and Canadian equivalents are given wherever possible.
We are grateful to Ven. Wu De, abbot of the temple, who granted the author several interviews in order to provide commentary on the author’s photographs. We are also grateful to Ven. Ivan Trinh and Ms. Chris Ng, who provided translation, and to Professor Henry Shiu, of the University of Toronto Department of Humanities, who graciously provided translations for the more complex calligraphic scrolls.
The significant contribution of “Understanding the Chinese Buddhist Temple” is to reveal the key concepts embedded within the numerous objects common to Chinese Buddhist shrines, as well as the layout of the temple, in an engaging manner that combines photographic representations with explanations. The book is suitable for anyone interested in Chinese Buddhism and culture.
JOHN NEGRU (Karma Yönten Gyatso) began Buddhist practice in 1968. He was the coordinator of the Toronto Buddhist Federation and later a founder of, and Toronto coordinator for, the Buddhist Council of Canada for four years (1984-87). He has been involved with many ecumenical Canadian Buddhist initiatives since then. He is founder of The Sumeru Press Inc., and the author of two Buddhist books: “A Rosary of Precious Offerings to Enrich the Mind” and “Understanding the Chinese Buddhist Temple” in addition to his many other books and articles. Many of his photographs of Buddhist art and architecture in India and Asia are held by in the permanent archival collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario.