A Tale Of Two Trees



Dharma Distilled


The Tsz Shan Monastery in Hong Kong looks like a Tang Dynasty era monastery, but was actually built  just recently, and opened to the public in 2015. Funded by Li Ka-Shing, Asia’s richest man, the monastery is basically a giant panic room. Built to last, one of the buildings can withstand explosions and is equipped with bulletproof windows. A strange thing to build into a monastery that is promoting compassion and kindness. However, rich people need to protect their stuff, so that explains everything.

Many people thought Li Ka-Shing’s project would turn into a “Buddha-Land” or sorts, attracting Buddha Tourism for a profit. Once you visit though, there is no space for any such thought, as the calm and quiet really do ease your mind. It is a wonderfully harmonious place to learn about Buddhism or to simply enjoy a peaceful environment.

In the courtyard, two (very expensive) trees have been planted. One is groomed and shaped, the other is left to grow wild and naturally. Take a moment to decide which look you prefer:

Tale of 2 trees

Which tree did you choose?


Your choice is only to demonstrate the fact that: in this world, everyone has a different preference.  One tree can’t please everybody.


The truth is that the trees do not care what you think of them. No matter if left alone or if shaped by others, each tree can only be what it wants to be – a tree. We need to be like those trees, and don’t worry about how others may judge us. Just do your thing, and be your best self! This is the way of the Dao.

Now that your heart is at ease, you should be able to give a water offering.

Pour some water into the wooden bowls. The dipped sides of the bowls were designed to easily let the water spill out. Only those with peaceful hearts can walk steadily down the path without losing a drop. At the offering fountain, you pour your water and your wishes.

How many people do you think wish for Li Ka-Shing’s wealth? (And for his peaceful panic room?)

Water Offering

Water Wish

Water Walk



  1. juancy March 28, 2016 / 5:03 am

    Curious place. Interesting that someone with so much money/material would create such a place.

    I like both trees! :-)

    Also, wondering if there were any other statues beside Guanyin. Why do you suppose she was chosen?

    • Lisa March 31, 2016 / 7:44 am

      This monastery is rumored to become his final resting place. Just a rumor though. As for choosing Guan Yin, I am not sure. There were other statues within the halls, each representing a different virtue. Perhaps reminding us to be kind and compassionate is the most important lesson for society to be peaceful, so she was chosen. Her vase is pointed down, signifying that all she has is given to others. Maybe we need to remember that no matter how little we have, we still have something that we can give.

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