Sutra Rock Valley-part one
After you have gained the satisfaction of "seeing the world dwindle" from the summit of Mount Taishan, be sure not to forget to go to Sutra Rock Valley to dip your feet. In this deep quiet valley, you can hear the steady beating of an age-old heart.
No one can fail to be amazed by the stone inscription here, which covers a surface of 2,000 square meters or more. Care-fully studying every stroke on the flat rock imagining that monk more than 1,400 years ago using the rock as paper, wielding a huge, rafter-thick brush, concentrating his mind, radiating with energy and vigor, using the power of body and brush to write with the greatest piety.., who could not be profoundly moved by his dedication and stamina!
The Diamond Sutra inscription at Sutra Rock Valley was recently proved to be that of the eminent monk An Daoyi who lived 1,400 years ago. He traveled from the northwest via Henan to the State of Lu, leaving many stone inscriptions of Buddhist scriptures in this homeland of Confucianism. The scale and the calligraphy of those inscriptions are acclaimed as the acme of perfection. An's rock-firm determination and innovative way of promoting Buddhism indeed show his whole-hearted and painstaking efforts.
Why did he engrave the Diamond Sutra on Mount Taishan? Was it simply to leave a permanent mark of Buddhism there? Or per-haps An Daoyi, having heard that the souls of Chinese people were gathered at Mount Taishan, thought to cover a whole rock face with texts from the Diamond Sutra so as release those souls from suffering and deliver them to the Pure Land? Or perhaps he was aiming a head-on blow to deter any potential imitators of the First Emperor of Qin, and Emperor Wu of Han, who made stupid and conceited attempts to become immortals by performing mountain worship ceremonies at Mount Taishan?
These days we have no way of verifying An Daoyi's true motive any more than we know why the project was dropped halfway. At present, on the enormous stone surface, there are altogether 44 columns of characters from east to west, with between 10 and' 125 characters to each column, and over 1,000 characters still preserved.