Before road safety conditions are improved, people often erect Buddhist statues at dangerous intersections to petition the Buddhist lineage to bless and protect passersby. Seven years ago Shih Kuo-chuan, formerly head monk at Fo-En Temple in Pingtung County’s Ligang Township, made a vow to donate Buddhist statues, and to date more than 100 of the statues he has donated have been placed at such intersections. Shih, 77, has decided this year to donate his last Buddhist statue and is currently looking for an ordained location to put it so that **commuters** can be protected.
Shih says that seven years ago, receiving inspiration from “Amitabha’s 48 vows,” he made a vow to donate 48 Buddhist statues. As people continuously donated private land near dangerous intersections in hopes of erecting Buddhist statues to keep commuters safe, however, he ended up donating more statues than initially expected. Statues donated by Shih can be found as far away as Greater Tainan’s Meiling area, and he no longer remembers exactly how many statues have been donated.
Shih’s Buddhist statues can be seen at every intersection in Pingtung County’s Chaojhou Township where car accidents frequently occur. The lighting equipment surrounding the statues **illuminate** intersections that had previously been dark, which Sihchun Borough Warden Huang Tsai-sheng says actually has reduced the number of traffic accidents. People slow down when they see Buddhist statues at intersections. The residents of his borough are **grateful** for Shih’s good deeds, Huang says, adding that in private everyone calls him a living bodhisattva.
Shih says that it costs around NT$100,000 to have a Buddhist statue manufactured. In the past, the cost was usually covered by donations from local temples, he says. Half a year ago, however, Shih decided to retire from his post as head monk, as he was getting on in years, and used his savings to have Buddhist statues made. Shih still has one more statue to donate and hopes to find that last fateful intersection in need of a statue before he dies, giving it a proper place to sit and protect the area.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)