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A Book You Can Walk Through
A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts

On the island of Java stands a wondrous structure. It is called Borobudur, a name which means “ancient mountain.” Borobudur is not actually a mountain, although it might look like one due to its size and shape. It is a temple made out of thousands of carved stone bricks.

Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple. It was built 1,200 years ago to honor the Buddha, a man who Buddhists believe discovered the secret to ending human suffering. That is why Borobudur is covered with statues of the Buddha, as well as carvings that tell the story of the Buddha’s life.B

Borobudur was built as a place for Buddhists to visit on a religious pilgrimage. A pilgrimage is a sacred journey full of prayer and reflection. When pilgrims reach Borobudur, they walk around the temple in a circle, then climb its stone steps. They ascend six levels on their trip to the top of the temple. Each level uses stone carvings to teach a different lesson about Buddhism.

It is important to remember that 1,200 years ago, most people could not read or write: they were illiterate. That is why structures like Borobudur are filled with stone carvings. They were meant to teach visitors about complex ideas using pictures instead of words. In that sense, walking through Borobudur while looking at its stone carvings is like reading a book. Each level of the temple is another chapter in the story of the Buddha’s life.


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