The Great Buddha is located on the eastern side of Fo Guang Shan next to the Great Wisdom Shrine. The Great Buddha is 36 meters in height, and is the highest standing Buddha in Southeast Asia. Situated in a high and prominent position, the compassionate face of the Buddha can be seen from many kilometers away. The body is golden in color and faces Mount Dawu looking along the Gaoping River.
When the Great Buddha Land was officially opened in 1975, Venerable Master Hsing Yun recited a Dharma verse:
With sand and rock from Gaoping, and spring water from the West,
With the efforts of all Taiwan, we have built the highest Great Buddha.
It is surrounded by 480 smaller images of the receiving Buddha. The right hand is raised up, giving forth light, like a light house, as a guide to the living beings ,in this dark world. The left hand is lowered in a gesture of receiving, like a kind mother, receiving living beings and leading them to the Pure Land.
Beneath the Great Buddha's lotus stand is the Thousand Buddha Land, wherein verses of repentance are inscribed on the walls, along with images of the thirty five jade Buddhas of the Vinaya, the five Dhyani Buddhas, Amitayus Buddha (the Buddha of Infinite Life), Four Armed Avalokitesvara, White Tara, Green Tara, flying and dancing celestial beings, and Vajra Dharma protectors, all depicted in the most lifelike spirit of the Buddhist Dunhuang Caves. There are also images in the style of the Longmen Grotto of Vairocana Buddha, Manjusri and Samantabhadra, as well as Mahakasyapa and Ananda. This is a real union of the Northern and Southern traditions, the esoteric and exoteric. In the center is a large mirror which reflects all, making one feel as though in the Padmagarbha universe. Beneath the base of Mount Sumeru in the center is the “Dharma Words of the Great Buddha”, which is an opportunity to let devotees grow in wisdom.
While walking in the Great Buddha Land, one can watch the sunrise and sunset in this tranquil setting. Looking out over the Gaoping River towards the mist covered mountains, one feels as though one were in a classical Chinese landscape painting. When clear, it is truly inspiring, a hairs breadth from living in a Pure Land, where the difference between ignorance and enlightenment lies only in a realization of the present moment.