Fo Guang Shan is built upon five mountain peaks that form the shape of a lotus flower. Situated on Emei peak, the highest in Fo Guang Shan, is the Great Practice Shrine, which looks out across the other peaks below.
Although construction on the Great Practice Shrine was completed in 1985, it was officially opened in 1987. Venerable Master Hsing Yun specially named it the Qixia Chan Garden, in memory of his own monastic lineage from Qixia Temple, with the verse: “From Qixia Monastery, a new lamp for Taiwan, that the Buddha's light may eternally shine, and the Dharma waters forever flow.”
Samantabhadra Bodhisattva is one of the four great Bodhisattvas, and is one of Sakyamuni Buddha's attendants along with Manjusri. Manjusri representing wisdom appears to the left riding a lion, and Samantabhadra as practice is to the right upon a white elephant. Samantabhadra's virtue manifests his pure magnanimity everywhere, and as such his name means universal virtue.
This Bodhisattva rides on a six-tusked white elephant. The six tusks signify the six perfections, and the white elephant represents gentleness, cooperation and great strength in traditional Indian Buddhist thought. This is a metaphor that Samantabhadra Bodhisattva uses the great strength of loving-kindness to practice and put the six perfections into action. While on the stage of cultivation, he made ten great vows, which are a role model for the practice of the Bodhisattva Path. In Mahayana Buddhism, Samantabhadra symbolizes action and vows.
The interior of the shrine houses 892 holy images. The winding path leads one up to the mist covered heights, where one can view from afar the vistas of Fo Guang Shan as far as the eye can see, and enjoy its revitalizing effect on the spirit.