Buddhist monk makes footprints in wooden floorboards through 20 years of prayer

Metro, 26 May 2014

Tongren, China -- Some people think going to the gym three times a week is dedication. This aged monk disproves that notion rather quickly.

<< Hua Chi has inspired younger monks in their devotion (Picture: Reuters)

Hua Chi, a 70-year-old monk has been praying in the same exact spot for over 20 years creating an exact footprint into the centuries old wood of a monastery.

The Chinese monk arrives every day at the steps of the temple and prostrates himself thousands of times every day and has done so for two decades.

Every day before sunrise, he arrives at the temple steps, places his feet in his footprints and bends down to pray a few thousand times before walking around the temple.

The footprints are 1.2 inches deep where the balls of his feet have pressed into the wood.

But the years are beginning to make their own mark on his body.

'During the first years I would pray 2,000 to 3,000 times a day.

'But I have grown older, so in recent years I have only done around 1,000 each day,' he said, adding sheepishly that he could sometimes only manage around 500 in the cold of winter.

Hua, who is also a doctor of traditional medicine, hopes his dedication will take him closer to his goal - a smooth transition to the afterlife.

'I reconstructed this temple and have prayed and walked around the temple all these times so that after my death my spirit will not suffer,' he said.

Hua's devotion has not gone unnoticed by younger monks at the temple, which lies within the Rongwo Gonchen Gompa, Tongren's main Tibetan monastery.

The monastery, which dates from 1301, is home to hundreds of youngsters studying Buddhist scriptures.

Twenty-nine-year-old Genden Darji says he spent many days admiring Hua's efforts before finding the courage to step into his footprints.

As he carefully repeats Hua's movements, the young monk says he plans to carry on the ritual when the older monk stops.

'Every day I come here and every day I look at the piece of wood, and it has inspired me to continue to make the footprints myself,' he said.