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Pilgrimage to the Mountain

Making pilgrimages involves traveling to a preeminent ancient temple on sacred grounds in a famous mountain for Buddhist disciples, and is one of the methods of cultivation for Buddhist who use the utmost sincere mind of vows to repent and reform one’s karmic obstacles and to cleanse and purify one’s mind.  In order to show one’s devotion and earnestness in seeking the way, the cultivator often practices “three steps, one bow” when making their pilgrimage to famous ancient temple and sacred grounds.


According to legend, there is a custom of going on "pilgrimages" in ancient India. The so-called "pilgrimages" refers to visiting the sacred sites of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and patriarchs. In China, there are also pilgrimage to the four famous mountains and sacred sites of Buddhism as a method of cultivation:

  • Mount Potala in Zhejiang Province: Guanyin Bodhisattva’s Way-Place {bodhimandala}

  • Mount Wutai in Shanxi Province: Manjushri Bodhisattva’s Way-Place  

  • Mount Jiuhua in Aunhi Province: Earth Store Bodhisattva’s Way-Place

  • Mount Emei in Sichuan Province: Universal Worthy Bodhisattva’s Way-Place


The Dharma Realm Jeweled Buddhist Place, Sky Bridge and Mountain Gate will invite all Buddhist faithful to make a pilgrimage paying respect to the Triple Jewels and fulfilling their vows as others have done in the past in China. Additionally, it is our hope that the Jeweled Buddhist Palace will provide a sanctuary for all regardless of their faith or religious affiliation.

Recent Examples of Three Steps One Bow Pilgrimage

The Venerable Hsu Yun (“Empty Cloud”), the most distinguished Chinese monastic for generations (1840-1959) lived to 120 years of age, (101 years of which as a monastic). He wished to repay his parents’ kindness for giving him life., so at the age of 43, began his three-steps-one-bow pilgrimage from the Fahua (Dharma Flower) Temple in Mount Potala, and continued it to Mount Wutai. He completed his pilgrimage in three years.


The Dharma Realm Buddhist Association had Two Separate Three-Steps-One-Bow Journeys to Pray for World Peace

  • Venerable Master Hsuan Hua’ s American disciple Bhikshu (Buddhist Monk) Heng Ju decided to embark on a three-steps-one-bow pilgrimage to pray for world peace, from San Francisco to Seattle. With the help of his close friend, Bhikshu Heng Yo, Heng Ju completed the 1100-mile journey in ten months, from August 1973 to October 1974, making history as the very first Buddhist making the three-steps-one-bow pilgrimage in the United States.

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  • From May of 1977 to October of 1979, Dharma Masters Heng Sure and Heng Chau embarked on their 800 miles’ pilgrimage of three-steps-one-bow, praying for world peace, from Gold Wheel Monastery in Los Angeles to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, completing their journey in 2.5 years.

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The Meaning of Bowing Pilgrimages to a Buddha up a Mountain

Cultivating the way starts from small to large, from near to far, from oneself to others, cultivating step by step. The cultivator bows from the foot of the mountain to the top of the mountain, from low to high, climbing with vigor, step by step, lifting one’s spirits and expanding the space within one’s mind just like the vast ocean and empty space; if one is able to enlarge the measure of one’s mind, one may ennoble one’s character beyond the ordinary. Buddhists disciples make the pilgrimage using a mind of repentance and remorse, the mind of respect, the mind of faith, and the mind of resolve.  


This is born from a mind of earnest determination to pursue the path of enlightenment, from “Bodhi”, meaning “path of enlightenment”, the resolve to become Buddha. Without the Bodhi resolve, one cannot become enlightened. Buddhist disciples study and practice the Buddhadharma with resolution, sincerity, and faith, never turning back on the path. A bowing pilgrimage gives us the opportunity to pay homage to sacred Buddha sites and such an impressionably profound experience aids us to make the ultimate resolve for Bodhi. Moreover, “Bowing once to the Buddha eradicates karmic offenses as many as the grains of sand in the Ganges”. Bowing to the Buddhas is the best exercise to strengthen the body and mind. The act of bowing can: 1) get rid of our arrogance. 2) develop a soft and gentle mind, which is one that is not stubborn 3) and foster a respectful mind.

Bowing pilgrimages allow us to unite our body and mind when prostrating to the ground. The three-steps-one-bow method is especially effective in fostering a mind of repenting and remorse and of humility and purity. Respectfully bowing to the Buddha can subdue one’s body and mind and pray for eradication of one’s karmic offenses with repentance, which is a very important dharma door and process in cultivating Buddhadharma.

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