Viewed from afar, the main building
of Chung Tai resembles a cultivator in sitting meditation,
surrounded by mountains, majestic and serene. The entire structure
is an embodiment of the Dharma, unifying sudden enlightenment
and gradual cultivation. The three central Buddha halls rise
vertically to the golden dome on top, symbolizing sudden enlightenment
to the ultimate truth—"awaken the mind and see the true
nature; seeing the true nature one becomes a buddha."
The pilgrimage stairways on both sides of the monastery represent
the gradual bodhisattva path (a bodhisattva is a Buddha-to-be,
one with infinite compassion for all beings), each step leading
to the attainment of buddhahood not just for oneself but for
The architecture of Chung Tai Chan Monastery expresses a harmony of the arts, culture, science, and the teachings of the Buddha, and is a wonderful application of the Five Modern Approaches of Buddhism. Soon after the Monastery's completion, it was awarded "The Taiwan Architecture Award" in 2002, and "The International Award for Lighting Design" in 2003. Having received wide acclaim and recognition, the monastery is a landmark of 21st century religious architecture.