Located at the southwest corner of the property, the Mahāvairocana Altar ground is another important area for Dharma rituals and practices. Accompanied by a magnolia tree and two pavilions, the Mahāvairocana statue sits on a lotus pedestal and faces the crossroads. Visitors and practitioners would come here to pray or attend rituals and mantra and sutra chanting carried out by sangha members.
Mahāvairocana in Sanskrit and Dari (大日) in Chinese mean the great sun or radiance, the generative force of all creation. In Esoteric Buddhism, Mahāvairocana is regarded as the supreme cosmic Buddha and one of the Primordial Buddhas since the beginningless time from whom the entire universe of different realms, phenomena, and other Buddhas emanate.
Through the attainment of great enlightenment, Buddhas have the spiritual ability to manifest an infinite number of forms effortlessly to guide and transform the minds of sentient beings. Out of great compassion for all beings across time and space in the samsaric existence, Buddhas with immeasurable wisdom use an infinite number of skillful means to help enlighten beings who seek ultimate awakening. Mahāvairocana’s omnipotence and infinite spiritual power and wisdom inspire and motivate practitioners to diligently cultivate oneself following the bodhisattva path practicing the Six Perfections.
Mahāvairocana forms the vajra mudra, in which the left index finger is surrounded by the fingers of the right hand. This mudra expresses the qualities of supreme enlightenment and the union of the physical and spiritual realms and of an individual and the divine and is thought to restrain passions that hinder enlightenment. The teaching is about the non-dual forms of all things that are empty in nature. The practice is to see all things as being manifested by the supreme Buddhas and eventually being able to transcend from the limiting beliefs and emotions one may have towards oneself and others.
Mahākāla, Dàhēitiān (大黑天) in Mandarin meaning the ‘Great Black Deva’, is a protector deity in Vajrayana Buddhism. Mahākāla is often portrayed in texts and depicted in arts as a fearsome god and demon-like figure who devours those who committed wrongs against the Three Jewels. He is also believed to be one of the manifestations of Mahāvairocana that subjugated the ḍākinīs, the freely roaming flesh-eating female spirits, and decreed that the ḍākinīs could never kill humans again and could only have the heart, which contains a being’s vital essence, of those who were near death.
Mahākāla’s wrathful appearance serves to remind the viewer of the right actions with their demons within. Such “demons” are the sources of mental afflictions and should be subdued with one’s mental strength and faith in higher power and wisdom. Mahākāla is invincible and unconquerable. His fearless appearance shows his selflessness and unhesitant manner in benefiting all living beings.
The middle part of the Mahākāla Vajra is combined with the Five-Pronged Vajra, which symbolizes the spread of dharma to all four cardinal directions, instantly destroying all obstacles. The lower part shows three elephants that symbolizes Samantabhadra's great compassionate wish to benefit all living beings with the Dharma.
Fire-Headed Wisdom King (火頭金剛明王) is the wrathful manifestation of Mahāvairocana.
In this sculpture, Fire-Headed Wisdom King is rendered with three heads and six arms, and he holds a bell, an arrow, a trident, a rope and other ritual weapons which are used to conquer greed, hatred and ignorance that poison one’s heart. Beneath his left foot are two beings who are commonly identified as the deities of death and ignorance. They also represent the troubles caused by the three poisons: greed, hatred and delusion. The Wisdom King is being portrayed in this way to show that he is the ultimate conqueror of death and ignorance, free from the limited existence within the samsara. His fierce form signifies his ability to overcome the obstacles and delusions that hinder spiritual progress, leading to the realization of wisdom and ultimate enlightenment.