Unveil the secret of the Chinese Taoist temple |与众不同的道院,在中国四川的山区

Unveil the secret of the Chinese Taoist temple |与众不同的道院,在中国四川的山区

What would you think about when it comes to a taoist temple? Is it Taichi? Immortality? Mysterious rituals? Or the divine beings?

I was like you until visiting a very special taoist temple by chance.

The story begins like this. I wanted to know more about taoism, and my family happen to know a friend who was half converted to a taoism. So we were invited to spend 3 days at her master’s temple. 

I didn’t realise at that time, that this trip would change my idea about taoism and temples completely.


The first thing I realised, is that not all the temples are open to the public. There are around 8000 taoist temples in China, accommodating around 60,000 taoist priests. These are very small numbers compared to 33,000 Buddhist temples and 220K monks and nuns. But among these 8000 temples, quite a lot are actually not open to the public.


The second thing I realised, is that taoism is not all about reclusion, philosophy and the divine beings. It needs to find its own living from the secular world, despite being far away in the mountains.


This temple has to accommodate 40-50 priests at its peak time, therefore funding is an unavoidable topic. Apart from the donations of the congregation, they also need to find other sources of funds to support the further construction and renovation of the temple.


Tea is a balance they found between the taoist and secular world. The process of making the tea is soothing like a spiritual practice, and by selling them they can get extra income. 

Tea picking sounds like a boring job, but when doing with a group of people, it’s actually not that tedious. And when you find the new born tea leaves and pick them with your own fingers, it’s a quite new experience of re-connecting to the nature. I guess this is what the taoism described as the flow of Chi in the universe.


On the last day, a ritual celebrating the birth of Caishen, the god of wealth was arranged at the temple. A big crowd of congregation arrived to join the ritual, hoping to get blessings. The procedure of the ritual is quite complex. From the preparation of Wenshu, you can understand it as an letter to the divine beings, to the special music, dance and gestures at the ceremony, everything is carefully arranged with full respect.


The last thing I realised, is that the taoism is only the reflection of the secular world. It answers to all the worldly matters. What you get from taoism depends on what you pursue. Some people get calmness from the time at the temple, because the sense of belonging is what they look for. Others get comfort from the rituals at the temple and donations made, because they believe the the Devine beings can help them achieve whatever wanted in the secular world.


Whether spiritual or secular, what I found attracting about this taoist temple is the lifestyle the priests have and how close they are to the nature. Probably just as one of the converts said, the closer we are to the nature, the closer we are to our own hearts. And the closer we are to our hearts, the closer we are to the taoism.

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