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  • As I am walking around a bend in the ever-upward sloping road towards Maiji Mountain in China's Gansu Province, I look up and to my left and see a sheer face cut out of the mountain.

    Staring down at me are three gigantic Buddhas - each probably 30 meters tall. They are surrounded by grids of stairways and grottoes dot the mountainside.

    I didn't know it at the time, but the mountain was carved out by Buddhist monks and pilgrims from the 4th century AD and continued on and off until the 19th century.

    1,300 years of back-breaking labor labor went into creating this masterpiece of art.

    Not only are the the three giant buddhas there, but there are other large buddhas carved into the side of the mountain as well as 194 different grottoes housing over 7,000 hard carved/sculpted buddhas.

    As I walk along the gridwork of stairs that criss-cross over the mountain, I am silenced by the centuries of devotion that this place has inspired.

    The beauty of the landscape is unparalleled to anything I have yet seen. Lush green trees spread out as far as I can see in every direction, and the morning's fog obscures the neighboring mountaintops. I can hear birds and bugs calling and buzzing in the grass and trees below, and I cannot say a word.

    I am inches away from statues and sculptures that are older than I can really imagine and were made with techniques that I cannot possibly hope to ever replicate myself.

    The vastness of the landscape, the artwork, the devotion, and the weight of history all render me speechless as I ponder the significance of it all.

    How lucky are we to be able to go to places like this and revel in the dedication of the ancient?

    How fortunate are we to be able to see the direct fruits of their labor and to be inspired by them?

    How amazing is it that this place has survived for so long?
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