The First Holistic Zhen Taoist School --The White cloud Monastery ( on the cover)

The White Cloud Taoist Monetary -The First Holistic Zhen Taoist School

- translated by Yanling J., proofread by Lois C., Susanne C. Cynthia C, and edited by Solala T. Feb 2000.

Content

(The buildings on the eastside are not introduced)

Introduction page 2

I. The Structure and buildings of the White Cloud Monastery

II. The temples and their subsidiary buildings Page

  1. The Central line buildings page

1. The Screen wall page

2. Pai lou - The Decorating gate building page

3. The Mountain Gate page

4. Hua biao - The ornamental stone coulombs page

5. The stone lion page

6. The Phoenix Nesting Bridge page

7. The Temple of the Spiritual Celestial page

8. The Bell and Drum buildings page

9. The Temple of the Three Deities page

10. The Temple of the Superior Deity-the Jade Emperor page

11. The Temple of the Celestial of Treasure-the Temple of Tsai Shen page

12.The Temple of the Saver page

13.The Lao Lu Tang – Lao Lu House page

14.The Temple of the King of Medicine page

15.The Temple of Immortal Qiu page

16.The Happy Garden where Celestials meet page

17. The Temple of the Four Yu Deities page

18. The Temple of the Three Qing Deities page

19. The eastern exhibit room page

20. The western exhibit room page

B. The westside buildings page

1. Shen teh (the horse-looking animal) page

2. The courtyard of the Memorial House page

3. The Temple for the Eight Celestials page

4. The Temple for Immortal Lu page

5. The Temple of the Primary Deity page

6. The Temple of Wen Chang Deity page

7. The Temple of Yuan Chen Celestials page

8. The Twelve animals of the birth years page

9. The carving of the twenty-four caring and respectful children page

C. The buildings in the back garden page

1. The Jie tai and the Room In the Clouds page

2. The Three Mountains page

3. The Retreatment building page

4. The Pavilion Where Meeting the Celestials page

5. The corridor of the stone tablets page

 

The First Holistic Zhen Taoist School: The White Cloud Monastery

 

The White Cloud Monastery is located one kilometer from one of the former Bejing City gates, Xi-Bianmen. It is one of the three earliest Holistic Zhen Taoist Schools and has been the most important one since the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368.) Since 1949 it has been the home of the National Taoist Religion Association, the Taoist Institute, and other national research institutes. It is well known for its wealth of historical relics and its well-preserved collection of the most precious Taoist documents and ancient Taoist books. This holy site holds a high honorable place in all Taoist hearts.

  1. The Structure and Buildings of the White Cloud Monastery
  2. In the ancient document, The Record of the Complete inspection of the Beiping Temples, (Beiping is the previous name for Beijing,) it is written that the White Cloud Monastery – the Bai Yun Guan (guan means Taoist Monastery,) was first built during the Tang Dynasty in 741 A. D. and named Tian Chang Guan. According to The Record of Rebuilding Tian Chang Guan on the inscribed stone tablet, Liu Jiu-xiao, a high official during the Tang Dynasty (618-970,) says the reason for building this Monastery was that Emperor Xuan Zong wanted a temple in honor of Lao zi. He was the author of Tao De Jing, written around 770 B. C. The Emperor wanted to show his respect for Taoism, (pronounced Daoism,) (Another reason was because he had the same surname, Li, as Lao zi.) The stone statue of Lao zi in the Monastery was created then. Unfortunately, the Monastery was burned down in 1160 by foreign invaders.

    In 1167 the new monastery was rebuilt on the ruins under the order of the Emperor of the new Jing Dynasty in north China, taking seven years to finish. The Emperor renamed it The Holy Tian Chang Guan and Invited all the officials and officers to attend the celebration ceremony which lasted three days and nights. The well known master Taoist, Yan De-yuan, became the abbot. In 1186, another well known Taoist master, Sun Dao-ming, became the Scribe and updated the important Taoist record, The collections of Taoist Scriptures.

    In 1190 the Emperor’s mother was in critical condition and the Emperor asked the Monastery to present a "Universal Ceremony" for seven nights for his mother. After one month the Empress was completely recovered. To honor the celestial year of her birth the Emperor ordered the construction of what is now the Rui Sheng Temple in the west side of the complex. Unfortunately, in 1202, the Monastery again was accidentally burned down and only Lao zi’s stone statue survived. In the following year construction was begun again and the finished Monastery was named Tai Ji (tai chi) Palace. Because of the bad economical and political situation, in 1215, the capital was moved from Beijing to Bian Liang City, (the Kai Feng City, Heh Nan Province.) The Tai Chi Palace gradually deteriorated due to lack of financial support. At the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty Immortal Qui Chu-ji came back to China after visiting Genghis Khan, who became the Emperor in 1224 and invited Immortal Qui to live in the Tai Chi Palace. By then the Monastery was a scene of desolation. Immortal Qui ordered Taoist Wang Zhi-jin to oversee the repairs and construction and after three years the Monastery had an entirely new look. In 1227 Immortal Qui ascended to heaven in the Monastery and was buried inside the Temple of Immortal Qui. In the same year, Genghis Khan renamed the Monastery the Chang Chun Monastery (which is the name of Immortal Qiu.)

    The Monastery was repaired in 1956 and again in 1981, both restorations financed by the government. It is one of China’s nationally protected cultural and historical sites and is an important destination for tourists, especially for Taoist believers.

  3. The temples and their subsidiary buildings

Beyond the gate there are three groups of buildings on the central line, on the East Side, and on the West Side, as well as a back garden. Most of the buildings were built either during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) or Qigng Dynasty (1644-1911.)

  1. The Central line buildings
  1. The Screen wall
  2. The screen wall is outside the gate, which is the beginning section of all Taoist buildings along the central line. The screen wall functions to gather and store qi from nature and prevents evil from entering the gate. On the wall there are four vigorous characters embedded on the screen in green color glaze. Written by the famous calligrapher Zhao Mengzhao (1240,) these characters say "Be Everlasting Spring."

  3. Pai lou: The Decorating Gate Building
  4. The original building of the Decorating Gate building is called the Observatory because it was where Taoists observed the stars. There used to be two such buildings with instruments in them on opposite sides of the gate. Later they were changed into Pai lou was built in 1443 and has four columns and seven stories. Its roof is Xie shan style.

    The horizontal inscribed board above the Pai lou says: "Dong Tian Fu Di." Dong tian means a place surrounded by mountains that absorb both yin and yang qi from universe and nature. Fu di means a place of peace and happiness. Taoists choose ideal places to build their monasteries as such places benefit Taoists in their practice. The book, Yun-ji’s Seven Qian, recorded the spiritual areas in the entire country. There are ten Big Dong Tians, thirty-six Small Dong Tians and seventy-two Fu Dis.

    On the north side of the Pai lou it says; "Qong Lin Liang Yuan," a world beyond the earth; tranquil, peaceful, and beautiful as if it were built of jade.

  5. The Mountain Gate
  6. The Mountain Gate is a Taoist term for the front gates of the monasteries, so named because monasteries are usually built in the mountains and forest. A large Taoist monastery typically has three gates to match the buildings. The three gates also hint at the meaning of three dimensions. Taoists consider that only when a person is beyond these three dimensions is he or she really cultivating Tao.

    The three brick-arched Mountain Gates of the Monastery were built in 1443. On the walls of the gates there are carved floating clouds, cranes, and plants. The artistic style is simple, vigorous, and beautifully shaped. There is a palm-sized lively and lovely monkey hiding somewhere in the carving on the Middle Gate and two other such monkeys hidden somewhere else in the Monastery in the carvings. They are difficult to find but people believe that if you touch the monkey with sincerity you will have a peaceful, happy year. It has become a custom for people to come to the White Cloud Monastery to look for these monkeys.

    There is a horizontal plaque written by the Emperor Ying Zong (Ming Dynasty) in 1443, which says; "It is my permission to rebuild the White Cloud Monastery." Since then this has been the name of the Monastery. The plaque is made of iron as the wish of the Emperor was that White Cloud Monastery would last and be as strong as iron. This has earned the Monastery the nickname, "The Iron-built White Cloud Monastery"

  7. Huas biao: The ornamental stone columns
  8. Hua biao are the decorations at the gates of Taoist monasteries. Emperor Yao and Emperor Shun originally used Hua biao during the remote period, a symbol for asking for criticism and advice. Gradually they came to be used as symbols of palaces, tombs, and occasionally they were placed at the end of a bridge. Later, Hua biao was allowed to be built only in the monasteries that had the Emperor’s permission. The clouds carved on the eight-diagram shaped Hua biao mean "good omen." Hua biao can also function in telling the hours. Symbolically, they mean the border between the real world and the immortal world – when you pass it you have left the real world; when you go back you are in the real world.

  9. The Stone Lions
  10. Most of the Taoist monasteries have stone lions at the gates. The lion is king of the animals and this for showing the power of spirit. The lion on the eastside is a male and under his left foot is an "embroidery silk" ball. When the lion plays with the ball it symbolizes the infinite and supreme power, and the holistic universe. The west one is a female, under her right foot is a baby lion symbolizing the prosperous Taoist religion.

  11. Wo feng Bridge: The phoenix Nesting Bridge
  12. This is the dark stone bridge that you see when entering the gate. The single opening bridge faces the north and the south. Its body is made of dark stone and the railing is made of white marble with fine carvings. There is no water underneath. One of the different legends about this bridge is that it was built in memory of the founder of the Holistic Zhen Taoist School, Immortal Wang Chong-yang, because in 1159 he met his teacher, the Immortal Lu and Zhong, at the bridge near his home. These teachers helped him attain Tao. Another legend is that there used to be another bridge outside the gate named "Sweet Rain Bridge." Because of lack of rain and strong winds in the north, people built this bridge and named it "Phoenix Nesting Bridge." A phoenix only nests at a place where the weather is good, with a soft breeze and mild rain, where all living things will be nourished.

    The original bridge was built in 1706 but was destroyed and rebuilt in 1989. Under the bridge two large, ancient, coin-models are hanging with two small bells in their holes. On the coins there are four words meaning; "When the bell rings it is the omen of happiness." People have been trying to throw coins through the holes to see if they can make the bells ring. This has become a custom in Beijing during the Spring Festival season.

  13. The Temple of Ling Guan: The Spirit Celestial
  14. The temple of Ling Guan was built in 1443, repaired in 1456, and again in 1662. There are many such Taoist celestial beings who guard the principles of humanity and the one in this temple, Ling Guan Wang – Spiritual Celestial Wang, holds the highest position. His three eyes light up the world. He carries his gold bian, (an ancient weapon,) while going on a tour inspecting the world. He pickets the Heaven and the world and is in charge of the celestial generals and soldiers in the heaven. He can walk through fire, send out wind, fly in the clouds, and also answer the prayers to bring rain or suppress the devils as well as treat diseases and get rid of evils. He can also save lives. His power is unlimited. This is why he has become the Guardian of principles at the gate.

    There are two legends about his identity. One is that he was from the end of Song Dynasty (around A.D.100, and his name is Wang Shan.) The other is that he used to be the local Tu Di, (a celestial being in charge of Xiang Yi area (the now Huai Yin in Jiang Su province.) Because he was very brave and upright and could never stand flattery, dared to punish any evil and saved lives, he was promoted by the Jade Emperor as Ling Guan – the position of General Commander of Celestial armies who guard the principles. People praise him; "His three eyes are watching the world, his gold Bian wakes up the present world."

    The carved, wooden, statue of Ling Guan was made in Ming dynasty, and stands 1.2 meters high. His face, hair, and mustache are all reddish in color. His three glaring eyes are staring at the devils and evils with anger. He is wearing a gold suit of armor, a red robe and green boots. His left hand forms the Ling Guan muzha; his right hand holds his gold bian. Under his feet are the wind-wheels that carry him as fast as wind in the clouds. This statue is life-like.

    On the left wall of the temple are paintings of Zhao Gong-ming and Ma Shen-zhi. On the right wall are paintings of Wen Qiong and Yue Fei. These four men are also generals guarding the Taoist principles. They all were well known ancient martial arts generals in Chinese history who protected the people with dignity and decency. These paintings were painted in Qing Dynasty.

    There are two stone tablets in front of the temple. The east one is in memory of the reconstruction in 1924 and of how the 21st abbot, Chen Ming-lin, collected donations to repair the central-line temples and the Phoenix Nesting Bridge. The west tablet records the names of the donors. The animal under the stone tablet is one of the nine sons of the Dragon King. The nine sons all have their duties and positions according to their nature, such as the gentle natured Jiao Tu, who is carved on the gate. The one who loves to watch, Li Wen, is built on the roof. The one who loves music is carved on the instrument, etc.

  15. The Bell Building and Drum Building
  16. All large Taoist temples have a Bell Building and a Drum Building. The bell is rung early in the morning to announce the morning class and the drum is beaten in the evening to indicate the end of the daily activities. In Taoist practice the bell and drum are also used for calling the spirits to involve them in the activities as well as to enhance qi in the mountains and woods. The Taoists also beat the drum each day eighty-one times to represent the years Lao zi lived on our planet. While ringing the bell the Taoists chant the words on the bell; "Hearing the bell, worship Lao Jun. (A respectful way to call Lao zi.) Forever escape hell and this fiery pit living world. I will attain Tao and help all."

    The locations of the Bell and Drum Buildings in the White Cloud Monastery are the opposite of places of those in other Taoist monasteries – the Bell Building is on the west and the Drum Building is on the east. This particular arrangement makes people wonder. According to the original record of the White Cloud Monastery, it says that at the end of the Yuan Dynasty, the Monastery was declining and fell into ruin due to many years of war. During the Ming Dynasty Emperor Cheng Zu ordered that the Monastery be repaired. The temple where Immortal Qui was buried was used as the center. The original Bell Building was preserved and the new Drum Building was built east of it. Today’s layout was formed then. The Bell and Drum Buildings look as if their positions have been changed, but in fact they have never been moved; only the center has changed. This illustrates a key Taoist attitude: "Go with the tide – following natural changes in the world."

  17. The Temple of the Three Deities
  18. The three statues of the Three Celestial Beings stand for the Earth, the Heaven, and Water. They are oriented from the earliest religion that worshipped nature. According to Taoist religion the three emperors during that remote period were Emperor Yao, Emperor Shun, and Emperor Yu. They were also the three Celestial Beings who came to our planet to help and teach people. On their birthdays, January 15th, July 15th, and October 15th, (the dates according to the Chinese Yellow calendar that is still used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and all China towns,) ceremonies are held in the Monastery and many people attend. On these days believers do not eat meat. Emperor Yao, who takes care of the Heaven, is also worshipped by the people as the God of Happiness, and there are paintings of him and porcelain statues. In some of the paintings he has five young children with him. One child carries a peach, (a symbol of longevity,) one carries a pomegranate, one carries fingerret citron, one carries spring plum flowers, and the fifth carries a Lenten with a carp painting on it. All are symbolic of happiness and fortune, etc. People put up the paintings of the Three Deities during the Spring Festival to wish for a happy life. The poem on the columns outside the temple is:

    Give happiness, settle grievances and keep the record of the souls.

    Reward the good and report the bad, all are preserved in record.

    The poem inside the temple is:

    Take care of the entire world and the three dimensions the Three Deities check the merits and faults.

    Bring happiness, pardon and rescue they discriminate between good and bad.

  19. The Temple of the Jade Emperor
  20. There are two stone tablets given by the Emperor Qian Long in honor of the Jade Emperor. His handwriting, carved on the stone tablets, is powerful and vital. The Jade Emperor is the Superior Deity of Taoists. The Temple honoring him was built in 1338, repaired in 1662, and reconstructed again in 1778. According to the book, The Classic Collection of the Jade Emperor, a long, long, time ago there was a Kingdom called Guang Miao Le. The King and Queen were becoming old and still had no children so the King ordered the Taoists to have a ceremony to pray for a child. The King had a dream that Lao zi carried a baby and gave him to the Queen. The Queen went through a year of pregnancy. She gave birth to a son at noon on the 9th of January. The Prince grew up and became a King who loved his people and brought peace to them. His people lived good lives, but he gave up his position and went to Pu Ming in the Xiang Yan Mountains to cultivate Tao. He attained Tao highly and began helping people to pursue Tao. He survived three thousand and two hundred great calamities and then successfully attained Big Cart Buddhism, the highest form of Buddhism. He went through another millions upon millions of calamities, attained today’s status of the Jade Emperor. He is emperor of all dimensions – of all the Deities and emperors in the universe and on the earth. He makes the decisions of producing lives, of promotions or relegations to all celestials. He is the origin of all the principles and the origin of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. He is in charge of all living things and their souls, and all the happinesses and calamities in the world. He is the highest God in the heaven. His Palace in heaven is called, The Tai Wei Yu Qing Palace. He is the Sage of Wu Ji Wu Shang and the highest Deity that people worship.

    According to Taoist religion, he personally comes to earth on the 25th of December on an inspection trip. So at midnight of the 24th there will be a great ceremony in the Monastery to welcome him. On the day of the 25th there is a ceremony for people to receive his bestowing of happiness. On the afternoon of January 9th, his birthday, it is said all the celestial beings will gather on the earth to celebrate. Jade Emperor will return to heaven that afternoon.

    The 1.8 meter-high, wood statue of the Jade Emperor was created during the Ming Dynasty. He wears a robe with nine strings, a hat of twelve strings of pearls, and in his hands is a jade hu (board.) The one hundred long, narrow, flags along the shrine all have the same word, "Longevity," written on them in different ancient styles. They were gifts of the Empress Dowager, Ci Xi, on her 60th birthday to pray for prolonging her life. The six bronze statues on sides were all made during the Ming Dynasty. They are the four Tian Shis (celestials who assist the Jade Emperor,) and two attendants. On the walls are the silk paintings of the celestials of the Southern (Six) Big Dipper, the Northern (Seven) Big Dipper, the celestials of the Stars of the Thirty-six commanders and Twenty-eight celestial beings. They were painted either during the Ming or Qing Dynasty. The poem of pillars outside the temple is:

    Lofty, yet one-foot away from the earth, He wields yin and yang to produce lives,

    In His vast and mighty spiritual world He easily tells good from bad.

  21. The Celestial of Treasure: The Temple of Tsai Shen
  22. The three statues are three real people who were famous for their integrity, unselfishness, honesty, and being straight in history. There are many stories about them. The middle one is Bi Gan, who is believed to bring people good business and wealth if they pray. His birthday is March 15th. On the left is Zhao Gong-ming whom people believe, that in addition to being a Celestial of Wealth, he is also one of the four guardians of Taoist principles, so they put his painting on the gate during the New Year’s season for protection and for having a peaceful family. Old and young alike know the right statue, named Guan Yu. It is believed that in his previous life he was a Dragon King who saved people from a terrible drought but was punished for breaking natural law by being reincarnated into Guan Yu. In history, Guan Yu was a general commander (220-265 A. D.,) who helped establish the Han Kingdom. It is believed he protects people’s business as well as their health and also punishes evil. His birthday is June 26th. The poem outside the temple is:

    Good morals bring happiness, to which treasure and wealth will be attracted.

    The ill-gotten materials won’t last for those who pray for wealth, benefit and high position.

    The point is that a decent person may want money, too, but he or she will make it through an honest way.

  23. The Temple of the Saver
  24. The statue is Saver Tian Zun who is very merciful and benevolent. He rides on a lion with nine heads; his left hand holds a jade vase with sweet dew in it. His duty is mainly to help unfortunate people in hell or misery. When a suffering person prays loudly and calls his name, that person will surely get help from him and the suffering will be changed into fortune. The popular praying words that people say were chosen from the book of his teaching, Chanting to Regret the Past and Be saved out of The Bloody Lake.

    The poem outside the temple is:

    In Qi Bao Quian (a beautiful, garden-like world) He lectures to teach how to return to life,

    On the nine-lotus seat He helps the returning souls to gain their origin.

     

  25. Lao Lu Tang: The Hall of Lao Lu
  26. Lao Lu Tang is the place to teach the principles. It is named in memory of the Taoist Grand Master Wang Chang-yue, who lectured and educated thousands of students in this hall during the Qing Dynasty. There are seven statues in this hall,

    Called; "The Seven Celestials of the Holistic Zhen Taoist School." The middle one is Immortal Qui Chu-ji, on his left are the Immortals Liu Chang-sheng, Tan Chu-rui, and Ma Dan-yang. On his right are Wang Chu-yi, Hao Da-tong, and the female immortal Sun Bu-er. They all were the disciples of Wang Chong-yang, the founder of the Holistic Zhen Taoist School. The seven immortals all had profound and lasting influence and carried forward Taoism. They were very active during the Jin and Yuan Dynasties and also established their own branches according to their personal styles. Some of these are the Dragon Gate Taoist School, the Mount Sui Taoist School, Meeting the Celestials School, Mount Hua Taoist School, and The Quiet and Tranquil Taoist School. These schools promoted the practice of Taoism, which is why you can find temples of these Seven Immortals in other places in the country.

    Lao Lu Tang, the third building in the central line, is spacious. This is where the Taoist students hold their classes and activities. On all occasions, including the daily activities and festivals, Taoist music is presented. The Taoist music band has more than 1,500 years of history. It includes singing, chanting, and drumming. The music instruments change to different forms according to the needs of the events. The purposes of the music is to call to the celestials for protection, getting rid of evil, praying for happiness, rain or good weather, etc., all depending on the purposes. Sometimes the music sounds like swords being drawn and bows bending, great in strength and impetus, at other times it is soft and gentle and tranquil, as if an immortal world. Often believers come to have a ceremony with music for various purposes, such as to ensure that their loved ones can go to heaven after they die. A ceremony for the dead is for gathering the scattered qi back together so that the soul can rise up and avoid falling on the earth into hell. Some of the ceremonies are for praying for happiness, for avoiding suffering and calamity, for family safety, to prolong their parent’s lives, or for a good business. There are also ceremonies for the whole country. In order to accommodate people there is a schedule of such ceremonies in the White Cloud Monastery.

    People who are sincere about attending the ceremony should wash and dress in clean clothes and avoid eating meat on that day. They should follow the Taoists in the ceremony to kneel down to pray silently. For happiness, they pray by saying, "The Tian Zun of eliminating disasters and prolonging lives," and "The Tian Zun of bringing happiness infinitely." When praying for a dead person, say, "The Tian Zun of Tai Yi Saver."

  27. The King of Medicine
  28. The statue of the King of Medicine in the temple depicts a famous Taoist physician, Immortal Sun Si-miao (581-682 A. D.,) from Yue Xian county, Shanxi province. According to the records he was a gifted child and learned "a thousand words daily" at the age of seven. He was good at defining the philosophy of Lao zi and Zhaung zi and all types of schools in his youth, and studied and cultivated Taoism, as well as practicing qigong and Chinese traditional medicine. It is said he was able to predict future and the yin and yang Ba gua. The emperors of different times wanted him to come out of the mountains, yet what he wanted was not a high position but to devote his life to Taoism and Chinese medicine. He lived on earth for 101 years. He collected extensive folk herbal formulas, family secret recipes, updated the important ancient medical books such as Ben Tsao, and wrote many medical books that are still important today. He made an extremely important contribution to Chinese medicine which is why he is called, The King of Medicine." His philosophy about longevity is to cultivate life, practice qigong to build up qi, preserve health by eating a healthy diet, using herbal medicine, living a healthy life style, and cultivating a good temperament. The painting of Immortal Sun Si-miao and a dragon is the story of the young dragon prince who left the ocean one day and changed himself into a snake and while having fun, he was accidentally harmed by a little boy. Sun used acupuncture to save his life. The young dragon went back to the Dragon King and told his father the story. The Dragon King sent Sun a lot of treasures to thank him but Sun refused them. So the Dragon King gave him two ancient medical books as appreciation, The Essential Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Gold, and A Supplement to the Essential Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Gold which Sun studied thoroughly and which made him a great doctor. Another story is about a tiger that came on his knees to beg for help because he was suffering chronic pain in his mouth. Immortal Slun put an iron ring in the tiger's mouth and then put his hand inside the mouth to apply some medicine. The tiger was healed and was moved to tears. Since then people have used iron rings, called Hu Xian, as decorations on their gates and this has become a custom. The poem inside the temple is:

    Heal the sick and save lives The Worth a Thousand Gold benefits people widely,

    Acupuncture treatments to the dragon and tiger show his benevolence to all.

    The poem on the columns outside the temple is:

    Give up fame and high position to practice and write medical books for saving lives,

    Refuse the treasures but accept the celestial medical books because of having mercy for the people.

  29. The Temple for Immortal Qui
  30. The Temple for Immortal Qiu is the center building of the Monastery buildings. This temple was built in 1228, but in another record it says that it was built in 1443. Immortal Qiu’s name is Chu-ji. He was born in 1148 and died in 1227 at the age of eighty (Chinese count the year before the person is born.) He was from a well-known family in Qi Xia County, Deng Zhou area in Shandong Province. As a child he was known for his extraordinary memory and quickness. At the age of 19 He became a Taoist in Mount Kun Yu (southeast of Maoping City,) and in his second year he went to Immortal Wang Chong-yang’s Holistic Zhen Taoist School and became his student. During the three years learning, Immortal Wang taught Qiu mainly one thing – to be humble. Before Immortal Wang left his body form, he told Ma Dan-yang, the Big Brother of his seven disciples to teach Qiu. He had predicted that Qiu would become the successor to the Holistic Zhen Taoist School. After studying and learning from Wang, Qiu practiced alone in the Fan Xi Cave, Shaanxi Province for six years and cultivated Tao with great concentration. He was known locally as the "Sir Palm-bark rain-cape" (the ancient raincoat) because he took a rain coat and a bamboo hat with him wherever he went. He went to the Dragon Mountains (southeast of Bao Ji City,) and practiced there intensively for another seven years and established The Dragon Gate Taoist School. In 1188 the Emperor of Jin Dynasty consulted Qiu on Taoism and asked him to give a ceremony. In 1207 the Empresses gave Qiu the import ancient Taoist documentary, Da Jin Taoist Collections as a gift. In 1219, when he was living in Monastery Hao Tian in Lai Zhou, Shanadong Province, the Emperors of the Jin, the Emperor of the Southern Song, and Genjis Khan- the Mongolian Emperor, all sent invitations to him but he accepted only the Mongolian invitation. Taking eighteen of his disciples with him, they walked for two years to the west to meet Genjis Khan. One of his disciples, Li Zhi-chang, vividly recorded their trip and the meeting with the Mongolian Emperor and wrote a book; Immortal Qiu’s Trip to the West. This book includes rich information valuable for research in geography, astronomy, organisms, and local customs. In this meeting the Emperor Genghis Khan consulted Immortal Qiu about how to rule a country. Immortal Qiu responded that, "The fundamental rule is to respect Heaven and love people’s lives. If you want to rule the world well, and be successful, do not kill extravagantly." When he consulted Qiu about longevity, Qiu responded, "To ease the mind and not have excessive desires are the most important things." Genghis Khan respected Immortal Qiu very much and took his advice. In the year of 1224 Immortal Qiu returned to Beijing and Genghis Khan honored him by naming him the Leader of National Taoist Religion. In 1227 Genghis Khan ordered a change in the Monastery’s name, from Monastery Tai Chi to Monastery Chang Chun in honor of Immortal Qiu’s name, because he was called Immortal Chang Chun – Forever Spring. Qiu taught that Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism are equally important and are entwined with one another. For people who cultivated and pursued immortalization and attained Tao, he considered it important to work on the heart without desires. He had books written such as The Discourse and Information of Preserving Health and Longevity, The Guidance of Cultivate Through Da Dan, The Collections of Ming Tao and Fan Xi Collections.

    January 19th is Immortal Qiu’s birthday and there is a celebration ceremony in the Monastery on that day. It is said that on this day he will appear as an ordinary person, such as a scholar or a Taoist, and that the lucky ones will meet him.

    In the middle, inside the temple, there is a huge container carved from an old tree’s root. The edge of the container is covered with gold and on the side there are eighteen words, written by Emperor Qian Long. The Emperor permitted the Monastery to use this container to go to the Forbidden City for money when in need and it would be filled full. Immortal Qiu’s body was buried under the container at his death in 1227.

    On the walls is Tao De Jing in the ancient plum-style calligraphy written by the well-known calligrapher, Gao Wen-ju, during the Yuan Dynasty. The writing is vigorous and magnificent. When you look at it from a distance, the characters look like plum flowers. The poem outside on the columns is:

    Having attained Tao, he knows the secret of life and has won the trust of the Emperors

    In order to stop the massacre he traveled far to the west to advise the Emperor

    Another poem was written by Emperor Qian Long. The original writing is preserved in the Eastern Exhibit room. It says:

    Live for thousands of years, no need of searching for a secret recipe.

    One advice stopped massive killings that has shown Qiu is a saver.

    Because Immortal Qiu became the Abbot of the White Cloud Monastery in Yuan Dynasty, and passed away in the Monastery, the White Cloud Monastery has been considered by the Taoists as the original place of the Dragon Gate Taoist School.

  31. The Happy Garden Where Celestials Meet
  32. Above the gate of the passage, that is to the west of the Temple for Immortal

    Qiu, are the words, "The Happy Garden Where Celestials Meet." There are two meanings of this name; one is that "This is the place where celestials meet." The other says; "This is the place where ordinary people come to meet the celestials." Beijing citizens used to come here on the 18th and 19th of January hoping to meet celestials. Many celestials that come to celebrate Qiu’s birthday are said to appear as various kinds of people, such as beggars or visitors, and will change into whoever they would like to be. People who are lucky and fortunate will meet them and happiness will be brought to their lives.

  33. Temple of Four Yu Deities
  34. This building was constructed in 1428. In 1662 it was rebuilt into two stories. In 1788 the name of this temple was changed to "The Temple of Four Yu." Upstairs are the statues of the Three Qings; downstairs is the statue of the Jade Emperor. On his left are the statues of the Deity of the Higher Dimension and the Deity of the South Pole who is in charge of Longevity. On the right side are the statues of the Deity of the North Pole and the Deity of Hou Tu (female). These 1.50 meters-tall statues are clay figurines coated with glue and powdered gold. They were created during the middle of Qing Dynasty.

    The Jade Emperor is the highest authority in the universe. The Deity of the Northern Pole helps him take care of the North and South poles, all the stars, the four seasons, and the world on the earth, as well as to balance the military powers on the earth. The Deity of the South Pole is in charge of the lengths of People’s lives as well as productions and reproductions of all living things in the universe. He is often seen as a smiling old man with a high, broad forehead, a long, white moustache, with a walking cane in his hand. The Deity of Hou Tu is a female who takes care of the changing of yin and yang and the beauty of all living things, as well as the riverS and mountains. It is said her birthday is on the 18th of March. The poem outside the temple is mainly about what these deities do.

    The gold-plated bronze vessel in front of the temple was made over 400 years ago. It is a solid shape; its whole body is covered with fine and beautiful carvings. There are forty-three dragons in the graceful clouds around the vessel and eight pairs of dragons on each handle, alive, playing with their pearls. People believe that if they walk with their eyes closed towards the vessel and their hands touch the head of a dragon, then this dragon will protect them and their careers will soar like the dragon – very successfully.

  35. The Building for the Three Qing Deities
  36. To the west of The Three Qing Deities Building is the building called "The Place to Enjoy the Moon." To the east is the building, which preserves the Taoist classic books, including the complete Ming Zhengtong Classic Tao Collections.

    The Building for Three Qing Deities was reconstructed in 1662 to add the second floor. The three, two-meter tall, statues of the Three Qings upstairs, all in a sitting position, were created during the Ming Dynasty. The statues look extraordinarily peaceful and serene. The splendid color coating is the original color, still looking bright and beautiful. A special technique was used which is why the coating remains the same.

    The Primary Deity is the middle one with the Ling Bao Deity on his left and the Da De Deity on his right. The three Deities are considered the highest spiritual gods in Taoist religion, and are the embodiment of Tao, which encompasses the cosmic view of Taoism. Tao produces everything, it exists before the earth, is everywhere, has no shape of form, but dominates the universe and creates lives as defined by Lao zi in his Tao De Jing. The Primary Deity gives off green color qi. He comes down to earth each time a new world is created and teaches people "Tao." Ling Bao Deity gives off yellow color qi. In the right hand of this statue is the picture of Tai chi, which means he came to earth to create the land and sky before human beings were produced.

    The Tao De Deity gives off white color qi. He is Lao zi, who is considered the ancestor of Taoist religion. It is said of Lao zi, that his mother was a celestial named Jade Maiden. She swallowed the essence from the sun and after eighty-one years she gave birth to Lao zi from her left armpit. Lao zi was born with white hair, which was one reason that he was called Lao zi (old man.) He wrote his Tao De Jing, on his way towards the west, on a black ox. When he was going past the Defense City of China, the General, Yin Xi, who was also a high-level qigong master, had foreseen Lao zi as sage and asked to teach him. So Lao zi wrote Tao De Jing and then left. According to the Taoist books, ever since he was born, Lao zi assisted different emperors during following dynasties, appearing as different sages under different names (including being the emperors himself) during remote periods. One name was Tai Cheng zi, who was the teacher of the first emperor, Shen Nong (the Emperor who taught the Chinese how to use herbs.) Later he became the teacher of the Yellow Emperor, Guang Chen zi, the teacher of the Emperor Yao, Wu Chen zi, and was Heh Shang Gong during the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B. C. – 220 A. D.). In mythology, Lao zi produced human beings by using the essence from the heaven, the essence from the earth, and then added the shen (spirit) inside. That is how all-living things were produced. According to Taoism, Lao zi is the saver of the world, exists everywhere, and lives forever. The statue shows him holding a Tai Chi fan in his hand, watching over the world. His birthday is February15th and on this day a big ceremony is held in the Monastery, attended by many believers. The poem on sides of the gate is:

    The three Deities decide the changes of yin and yang.

    The primary qi is the origin of all lives.

  37. The Eastern Exhibit Room

Since its first name, the Tian Chang Monastery to its present name, the White Cloud Monastery, the Monastery has survived over 1,200 years and has become a treasure house of artifacts. Even though many of these precious artifacts have been destroyed due to the changes of dynasties and past disasters, still, a lot remain. There are plenty of items in the east room that display its history of 1,200 years. The following is a brief introduction of these paintings, carvings, classic books and records, stone monuments etc.

    1. The Stone Statue of Lao zi
    2. This white marble statue is about 0.80 meters tall. He wears a Taoist robe, a hair bun on the top of his head, and has long whiskers that reach his chest. Sitting there, Lao zi lays his palm on his knees with a smile. It is believed this statue, created in the statutory style, for the Emperor’s family temple of their ancestors when the Tang Dynasty was established, was because the Tang Emperor had the same surname as Lao zi – Li (Lee.) It is said that when Jin dynasty took over north China this statue was hidden among the tiles. It was found when Immortal Qiu was repairing the Monastery. When Qing Dynasty took over China this statue was hidden again under the ground and was dug out in 1949.

    3. Tao De Jing copied by Song-xue
    4. The display is the rubbing form of the handwriting of a famous calligrapher of the Yuan Dynasty, Zhao Meng-zhao (his penname is Song-xue.) The writing style is beautiful, luscious, and is in a rigorous structure with spiritual charm. The original carving is preserved in the Monastery. The statue of Lao zi, the stone carving Tao De Jing and Complete Taoist Classic Documentary Collections are the three treasures in the Monastery.

    5. The Black Dragon Painting by Wu Dao-zhi
    6. This Black Dragon Painting is the original painting, painted by the well-known artist Wu Dao-zhi who was called the "Sage of Painting." He painted it three years after the Tang Dynasty was established. You can see the head of the dragon that is spreading the spring rain in the clouds but you cannot see his tail. The explanation for this is that the painter was striving to tell the story about what Confucius said concerning Lao zi after his visit with Lao zi. Confucius thought deeply for three days after his visit and said; "If someone is able to fly high in the sky like a bird an arrow can shoot him down. If someone can run like a deer he can still be caught by a hunting dog. If someone can swim in deep water he can still be caught by a net. But when a dragon flies in the qi of clouds, and travels in the universe, what can one do to a dragon? Lao zi is like a phenomenonal dragon to me and I can only see his head but not his tail."

    7. The painting of the Eighty-seven Celestials by Wu Dao-zhi

This is the original painting of the Eighty Seven Taoist Celestials by the same famous artist, Wu Dao-zhi. The characters are life-like, graceful, poised, beautiful, and at ease, their movements look leisurely, free and changeable.

    1. The Invitation and Meeting Genghis Khan in the Snowy Mountains
    2. This painting is a ten-foot long painting by Chen Jian in 1833. In the painting Immortal Qiu was sitting in the cart followed by his eighteen disciples and the soldiers sent by the Mongolian Emperor Genghis Khan. The whole group traveled in the vast wilderness towards the west. The qi momentum in this painting is harmonious, imposing, and tremendous, and its composition is ingenious.

      An unknown artist painted the other painting during the Yuan Dynasty. It is also about this trip. Its style is simple and harmonious in color; the characters and scenery are finely portrayed.

    3. The Painting of the Good Omen in Mount Tai heh
    4. This was painted between 1368-1398. The officials in the Mount Tai heh area, which is known also as Mount Wu Dang, gave this painting as a gift to the Emperor. The Emperor ordered that the painting be preserved in the White Cloud Monastery. The officials got this painting because the Emperor loved Taoist Celestials and enjoyed talking about good omens. In the Wu Dang local record it says that there were many times that the five-color aura appeared in Mount Wu Dang. Once, the Deity Zhen Wu showed himself inside the aura with eight black flags. The record says, "September 3rd, above the Tian Zhu peak of Mount Tai Heh, there were five-colored auras in column with shapes showing twice, both with five straight purple color rays inside." "September 4th , above the Nan Ya Monastery in Mount Tai heh there appeared eight black flags with Deity Zhen Wu’s picture inside the aura."

    5. The Painting of banana plant by Xu Wei
    6. This is the painting by a well-known talented poet and painter, Xu Wei (Ming Dynasty.) He named himself "Taoist Green Liana." He painted this one in his old age.

    7. Dong Qi-chang’s calligraphy
    8. Dong (Ming Dynasty) was a well-known senior official who was also an outstanding poet, calligrapher, and painter. Experts of calligraphy have praised Dong’s extraordinary style. The emperors of the Qing Dynasty all imitated his writing. This calligraphy is a well-known Tang poet’s poem, which Dong expresses spirit well versed with vigorous internal power.

    9. Liu Shi
    10. Liu (Qing Dynasty) was a very intelligent senior official whose calligraphy formed his personal style. He was considered number one in his time and his calligraphy is well known for its full, merry, and lively, style with forceful internal power. His calligraphy is also a Tang poet’s poem.

    11. The Silk Book of Tao De Jing
    12. This is the earliest hand written book of Tao De Jing during the Han Dynasty (206B.C.-A.D.220). There are Book A and Book B. Book A was hand written during the period between 206-195 B. C. Book B was copied by hand during the early Han Dynasty, Empress Lu’s period. The displayed silk book was one of the artifacts discovered in the Ma Wang Dui Tomb in 1973.

    13. The Han tiles
    14. The tiles from the Han Dynasty are of the oldest items preserved in the Monastery. The tiles are still intact and the words on them remain clear. On one is written, "Forever Happy," on the other is written, "Lasting Longevity."

    15. The Three-colors Statue of the South Pole Deity
    16. This statue was found inside the Monastery. The figure has a broad, high, forehead and is smiling. His left hand is on his knee and his right hand holds a Jade Ru yi. This statue is coated in the well-known Tang Three Colors style. A well-known artist between 741-936 A. D. created it.

    17. Xuan Wu Incense Burner
    18. The Xuan Wu Incense Burner was created during the Song Dynasty for burning sandalwood incense. The artists chose the turtle and the snake together and it is a wonderful composition. When burning incense rises out of the mouths of both the turtle and the snake, which are on waves of water, they look alive. The turtle and snake are symbols of the seven stars of the North, called the Xuan Wu Constellation, which is why it is named the Xuan Wu Incense Burner.

    19. The Statue of Lao zi Traveling on an Ox.
    20. In his gold-coated bronze statue (made during the Yuan Dynasty,) Lao zi wears an ordinary man’s dress. He has a kindly face, and is sitting with his left leg curled on the back of the ox’s back, and his left-hand on its back. It is as if the ox is walking towards the west. The coating has faded because of the statue’s great age.

    21. Ru Yi
    22. The two words, "Ru Yi," in Chinese language mean, "everything turns out as wished." The Ru Yi (made in Ming Dynasty,) is an S-shaped ornamental sandal-wood-carving. The Eight Immortals on it are offering birthday gifts to Deity Wang Mu (mother of the Jade Emperor.) At the bottom is carved the Longevity Deity. In a Taoist ceremony, Ru yi is used like a baton by a high level Taoist master to direct the ceremony. When used by ordinary people it is the symbol of good luck and happiness.

    23. The Gold Bell and Jade Inverted Bell
    24. The Emperor Kang Xi of the early Qing Dynasty, gave the Gold Bell and the Jade Inverted Bell when he visited the Monastery. This ceremony was for people with very high positions who did not attend in person, but who wanted their names included with the attendant’s names. It is said that when the Emperor was still a Prince, He came to the Monastery to receive the Convenient Ceremony.

    25. The Ivory Jian, Ru yi, and Blue Phoenix Incense Burner

These three items are the instruments used in the Taoist ceremonies. The Empress Ci Xi gave them to the Abbot Gao Ren-tong.

r. The Gui Zhi About Nature and Life

"Gui zhi," means The Real Essential Secret Words," for high-level qigong practice. This is a reprint of the book in the early stage of the Qing Dynasty. It is printed on white bamboo paper and painted bright red and black. The best disciple of Immortal Yin wrote the book. It is one of the most important Taoist classical monumental works on how to "cultivate the dan." The displayed books also include the six volumes of Taoist Collections in the Year of Zheng Tong, the Wan Li Taoist Classic, unearthed in 1980. Also, the wood statue of Lao zi, Immortal Lu Dong-bin, and a pear–wood carving of the Longevity Deity, all from the Ming Dynasty, were uncovered. There are many other precious collections, such as the flower vase, and bronze items made in 1556. There are many valuable ancient documents presented in this room. One of them is the handwriting invitation from Genghis Khan, "An invitation to Immortal Qiu from the Primary Emperor of Yuan.." (The letter is not translated.)

The West Exhibit Room

Many unearthed artifacts are displayed in the West Exhibit room including the statues and paintings of celestials in this room. Most of the displayed items are for Taoist ceremonies. There are also tools used for practicing, and written methods used in Taoist cultivation, etc. The Taoist ceremonies and practicing are a very important part of Taoist religion, which is a vast field and rich of resources. The following is a brief introduction of the presented items:

    1. The Picture of Cultivating Immortalization
    2. This is a drawing that metaphorically shows how the organs, and all parts of the body function when cultivating the internal "dan," a Taoist practice of returning to the origin – to be immortalized. The original work is preserved in the Monastery.

    3. The Picture of the Internal Classic
    4. This picture vividly depicts and explains the Taoist way of cultivation and practice. The original work was carved by a Taoist by the name of Su Yan and is preserved in the Monastery.

    5. The Main Taoist Classics Used in Daily Study, Activities, and Chants
    6. These classics include The Classic Collections of Jade Emperor, Tai Shang Holistic Zhen Morning Class Text, and Tai Shang Plough Longevity Classic, etc.

      d. The Classics of the Procedure of Abstinence and Principles of Being a

      Taoist.

      The Must-Obeyed Principles and The Dragon Gate’s Method of Cultivating Xin, (earth, mind, spirit, etc.) for beginners, for advance, and for becoming an immortal.

    7. The Robes Used in the Ceremonies for Passing on the Principles
    8. These include the Ba Gua Immortal Robe embroidered with gold thread, the Purple Crane Robe, and others, all of them beautiful with fine art work. There are many other items used in this and other ceremonies, as well as items used only by high level gong Taoist masters.

    9. Classic Books Used in Abstinence Ceremonies and Many Other Items

There are many items and books that are used in the ceremonies, such as the books, The Song of the Spiritual Way Towards Tao and Tai Shang Chanting to Cleanse The Wrong Doings, for helping the dead. There are also porcelain statues of well-known Taoist celestials such as Tsi Hang, Lu Dong-bin and Sun Si-miao, paintings of the deities, etc., as well as the gifts from people of Tai Wan and the rest of the world.

  1. The West Side of the Monastery

On the west side of the Monastery there are temples for the Eight Immortals; Immortal Lu Dong-bin, The Primary Deity, Wen Chang Deity, Yuan Chen Deity, the Celestials of the Twelve Birth Years and the stone carvings of the Twenty Four Caring and Dutiful Children.

The following is a brief introduction of them, including the Mystical Teh and the Mountain Temple.

    1. The Mystical Teh
    2. When you enter the courtyard on the west side you will see a statue of a horse-like animal. When you look at it carefully you will see that it has a donkey’s face, a mule’s body, horse’s ears, and ox’s feet. This is why people call it "The Four None-like." Its formal name is "Teh." It is said this statue was made in memory of Emperor Qian Long’s favorite horse that helped him win many battles. In Chinese mythology "Teh" is the name of an animal that could run ten thousand miles a day.

    3. The Memorial Temple – Tsi Tang
    4. The Tsi Tang was built in 1706. The statue inside the Tsi Tang is Wang Chang-yue, the Seventh Successor of the Holistic Zhen-Dragon Gate Taoist School. His body was buried inside the Tsi Tang. He became the Abbot in 1656 and taught over one thousand students. After lecturing and educating many more, he left our world in 1680.

      On the left and right sides of the walls are inlaid two precious stone carvings of the handwriting in the Yin-Fu Classic and Tao De Jing by the famous calligrapher, Zhao Meng-zhao, written during the Yuan Dynasty. These are the treasures of the Monastery.

    5. the Temple for the Eight Immortals

The Temple for the Eight Immortals was built in 1808 for the Immortals, Zhong Li-quan, Lu Dong-bin, Zhang Guo-lao, Tsao Guo jiu, Han Xiang-zi, Lan Tsai-heh and Heh Xian gu (female.) There is also a separate temple for Immortal Lu in the Monastery. The stories about the Eight Immortals are popular in Chinese culture. They all have their own magic weapons and power.

The following is a brief introduction to them:

    1. Zhong li-quan

His popular name is also called Zhong li. He was from Xian Yang City, Shaanxi Province during the Han dynasty. An interesting legend about him is that one day before his pregnant mother gave birth, a giant came in her room and introduced himself as the ancient Deity Shen Huangshi and said he would be born in her family. Then a sudden shining aura appeared like fire spreading in the room, and a baby boy was born – a big baby the size of a three –year-old. His extraordinary looks showed his unusual background. He had a round, big, head with a broad forehead. Thick, big ears, long eyebrows, deep eyes, a big, high nose. His facial and lip color was rosy, his nipples far apart and his arms long. He never cried or wanted to drink milk for seven days, then suddenly he spoke, saying; "I had a tour in the Jade Emperor’s Purple Palace and my name is written there." When he grew up he became a high official, he was assigned as general commander to fight the enemies who invaded north China, and he was defeated. He then disappeared in Mount Zhong Nan. In the mountains he met several celestials and learned from them. He practiced and became an Immortal. He met Deity Dong Hua and learned martial arts and the secrets of evolving into a Celestial being. Later he met Celestial Hua Yang, who taught him more. He helped Lu Dong-bin in his practice to become a Celestial. Zhong is considered one of the Five Founders of the Northern Taoist School. In most of the paintings he looks free and relaxed and carries himself as an ordinary man.

b. Zhang Guo lao

Zhang Guo lao was a real person who was recorded in the history records. He was a Taoist in the Tang Dynasty and had super powers. He lived in Mount Zhong Tiao in Zhang Zhou County and believed he had lived several hundred years. It is said that he often sat backward on a white donkey that was transformed from "paper cut;" an art form, and traveled between Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces to teach people to be kind. At night he changed the donkey back into paper again. The Tang Emperors sent invitations to him but he refused to go. Later, the Empress Wu Ze Tian (female) persisted in inviting him. He had to go but died halfway there and then secretly returned to the mountains. Many years later during the middle Tang Emperor Xuan Zong finally got him to the Forbidden City and wanted him to marry Princess Yu Zhen. Zhang Guo lao refused and sang a poem; "To marry a Princess is like to be up in the heaven to a man, which he loves but can only dread me." He begged persistently for the Emperor to let him go back home. On the way back he died at Pu Wu County in Mount Huan. His disciples said he had become a Celestial and went to the heaven. The Emperor ordered a temple to be built in Pu Wu County in his memory.

    1. Tsao Guo jiu
    2. "Guo jiu" means the brother-in-law of an emperor. Tsao was said to be the brother of the Empress Tsao, wife of Ren Zong, Emperor of Song Dynasty. The statue of him is different from the rest of the celestials. He wears an official robe and carries two jade yin-yang planks. He had a very kind and merciful heart and liked a simple life. He was deeply ashamed of things his brother was doing, such as taking from the people and killing them. He left his family and went into the mountains to study Taoism and cultivate self. One day Immortal Zhong and Lu went to test him.

      They asked, "What are you studying and cultivating?"

      Tsao responded, "Tao."

      "Where is Tao?" they asked. Tsao pointed to the sky.

      "Where is heaven?" Tao pointed to his chest.

      The two Immortals smiled and knew that he had learned the truth of life, so they gave him the directions and Tsao became a celestial too.

    3. Li Tie guai
    4. "Tie guai" means, "iron walking cane." In the legend it says that his real name was Li Xuan. There are many stories about him. Originally, he was a handsome, strong, tall, man. One day he told his disciple that he was going to meet Lao zi and would leave for seven days. If his "shen" (spirit) did not return to his body form on the seventh day, his disciple should burn the body. So he sat in deep meditation and his soul went to the meeting. Unfortunately, on the sixth day, the disciple’s mother was in critical condition and he had to leave the temple to take care of her. The disciple had no other choice but to burn his teacher’s body. Soon Li’s soul came back but could not find his body form. Then he found in the woods a man who had just died of hunger. He went inside and suddenly found the body had only one leg. Just as he was preparing to get out of that body he heard someone laughing and clapping hands. It was Lao zi who stopped him from jumping out of the body, saying, "Tao does not care about the outward look, this look of yours is fine. As long as your gong is plentiful you are still a real celestial." Lao zi gave him a gold band to hold the messy hair and an iron walking cane. Li Tie guai often carries a bottle gourd on his back when he comes to visit our world. In the bottle gourd there are herbal remedies that have magic power and he uses them to cure and save people.

    5. Han Xiang zi
    6. Han Xiang zi often appears as a nice looking young scholar. He has a long bamboo flute in his hand. He was the nephew of the famous literary giant and senior official Han Yu. It is said that in his previous life, during the Han Dynasty, he was the daughter of the Primary Minister An Fu. She was a beautiful and very intelligent girl named Ling Ling. The Emperor wanted An Fu’s daughter to marry his nephew, but An Fu refused, the Emperor was angry and dismissed him and sent him far away to do hard labor. Ling Ling was angry and she became so sad that she died and her soul went into a white crane. Immortal Zhong and Lu went to help her leave the body of the crane and be reborn again as a boy in Han Yu’s family. The boy was named Xiang zi. Since both his parents died when he was young, Han Yu raised him. When he grew up he wanted to be a Taoist but was rejected by his uncle, none the less; he went to Mount Zhong Nan and practiced Taoism. Again, he was guided by Immortal Zhong and Lu and succeeded in cultivating himself into a celestial. Han Xinagzi later tried several times to help his uncle to learn the purpose of Tao but Han Yu refused. Ultimately, the Emperor demoted Han Yu because he disagreed with him. On his way to his new lower post a heavy snow buried Han Yu. Han Xiang zi saved his life and finally Han Yu began to realize that the real world was only a place to learn about Tao. He later became immortalized too.

    7. Lan Tsai-heh
    8. The statue of Lan Tsai-heh often carries a flower basket. It was said that he was the Big Feet Deity who was born on the earth but in theater plays he was often dressed up like a girl. According to the legend he was a travelling Taoist who liked to wear shabby clothes and a wide wooden belt around his waist. On one foot he wore a shoe and the other was bare. In summer he wore a heavy coat, but in winter he bared his upper body and often slept in the snow, while his body melted the snow into steam. He often looked drunk, singing to tell people to be kindhearted while clapping two bronze music planks. He acted as if he were crazy, although in fact, he was not. A crowd often followed him. People gave him some coins which he stringed and pulled along on the ground, often losing some of the coins. He either gave the money to the poor or bought wine. Some people saw him like that when they were children and saw him again when they were old; he had maintained the same appearance all the time. One day when he was drunk and singing in a restaurant suddenly there was music coming from the sky with cranes soaring. He stood up and said, "time to go!" and left his shabby clothes on the floor. He rose up in the sky in a beautiful robe and was gone. One of his popular songs was;

      "Dancing Lan Tsai-heh, how long can this world last?

      A beauty’s face is like a spring flower, a year flies by like a weaving shuttle moving.

      The ancient people dies in muddled heads resulted many more have come to this world today.

      Riding on my Phoenix in the morning I watch the green tides ebbing.

      In dusk I watch white waves covering the green trees and fields.

      Long lasting lives and scenes are only up in the above,

      Where majestic palaces are built of splendid gold and silver.

    9. Heh Xian-gu

Heh Xian-gu is the only female celestial of the Eight Immortals. There are many legends about her. According to the records she was born on the seventh of March in a year during the Tang dynasty. It is said that when she was born purple clouds rose in the room and there were six auras above her head. She was an extraordinarily bright child. When she was fifteen a celestial came in a dream to teach her how to take mica powder, (a mineral.) She did and then she began running as fast as flying. She went to the mountains far away in the morning and returned at dusk, bringing back fruit for her parents. She later no longer ate food but ate qi-on pi gu. It is said that Immortal Heh predicted a highly effective future. The female Emperor Wu Ze Tian invited her to the Forbidden City. She went but disappeared along the way. Another saying was that Immortal Lu guided her to become a celestial.

The poem on the columns outside the temple is:

In the universe, the purple qi shows the magic power of Tao.

Deep in the white clouds is where the Celestials live.

    1. The Temple for Immortal Lu Dong-bin
    2. The temple for Immortal Lu Dong-bin was built in 1887. Immortal Lu is the most influential immortal of the eight and is known by old and young. It is said he was a family member of the Tang Emperor’s family. "Li" used to be his surname. After the female Emperor Wu Ze Tian seized power he had to hide along with his other family members to avoid being jailed or killed. He went to the Mountains and changed his last name into Lu. Another saying is that he was the grandson of Lu Wei, who was a Tang Dynasty’s high official. Before he attained Tao, he met Zhong Li-quan, who loaned him a pillow. Lu fell asleep on the pillow and dreamed that he came in first in the highest imperial examination and became a high official. He dreamed he married a beautiful wife and had a nice family for ten years. Then he offended the Emperor and was punished by being sent far away from his family, he lost his family and he was totally broke. At that moment, he woke up from his dream, then he saw the rice soup that Zhong was cooking before he fell asleep, was not done yet. Suddenly, he realized how short and unfortunate a person’s life on the earth could be. He wanted to get beyond that and begged Zhong to teach him. Zhong tested him with money, life and death, irritation, love, poverty, hardships, etc., a total of ten kinds of testing. Nothing shook Lu’s determination to pursue Tao. Zhong taught him the Jin Ye Da Dan and Ling Bao Bi Fa, Lu gained phenomenal power. One day Lu met the Deity Fire Dragon, who taught him more. Immortal Lu leaned the essential and crucial points in practice Taoism was also the only way to cultivate the highest level of Tao, was to let go of greediness, anxieties, longings, and disturbed emotions, etc. He applied himself to cultivate Tao and vowed to help and save people around the world. He finally attained very high level Tao. It is said that he often travels and changes into different persons to help people and he helped several others to become celestials. There are many moving and interesting stories about him. People call him Immortal of the Sword, Immortal of Poetry, and Drunken Immortal, because he was a very good martial arts master, a great poet and literati, and loved to drink wine. His birthday is on the 14th of April. He was considered one of the five establishers of the Northern Taoist School. On his birthday a big ceremony is held in Monastery. The poem on the pole outside the temple is:

      One dream on the pillow laid bare the truth of one thousand years of lives that are only empty dreams.

      Practiced Nine-turning Dan and succeeded in becoming a celestial, he survived ten thousand calamities.

    3. The Temple of the Primary Deity
    4. The Temple of the Primary Deity was built in 1756. The statue is the female Primary Deity, who is also called The Fair Maiden of Mount Tai. On her left is the female Celestial of Promoting Birth, the female Celestial Who Brings People Babies. On her right are the female Celestial Vision and the female Celestial Smallpox. All of the five statues are 1.2 meters tall and were created in the Qing Dynasty. It is said the Primary Deity’s real name was Bi-xia, one of the seven maidens that the Yellow Emperor sent to meet Immortal Kunxi. She cultivated and attained higher Tao and became The Maiden of the Mount Tai.

      She was said to have super power, protecting people whom asked for help. She protects farmers, businessmen, travelers, and marriages. She also cures sick people. Her birthday is on the 15th of March. There are many female celestials in Taoist religion. They all have their own posts and are in charge of different areas. To Taoists, men and women are completely equal.

      6. Wen Chang’s Deity’s Temple

      In the Wen Chang Deity’s Temple is the statue of Wen Chang Deity. He has been the guardian of intellectuals since the ancient times. According to the Taoist classics he has a high position among the Taoist celestials, and is in charge of the thirty three levels of the celestial worlds as well as life lengths, happiness, and disasters on the earth. He is also in charge of reincarnations in the eighteen levels in the hell, choosing only the ones qualified to be reborn human beings. According to the legend, his name was Zhang Ya-zi; originally he was the Zhi Tong Celestial guarding the Sichuan Province. He could predict the future of the scholars and often showed up to protect them. It is said that if a scholar passes by his Zhi Tong Temple in Sichuan and if there was a storm, then this scholar would become a famous Prime Minister. One example is the story about Wang An-shi in the Song dynasty. Wen Chang Deity told his story twice, on the Ouija Board, once in the Song Dynasties and the other time in the Yuan Dynasty that was written into a book, the Qing Heh Authorized Biography. It says in the book that he was born in the Zhou Dynasty (B. C. E. 11, the century 256 B. C.) and had changed seventy three times into sages and celestials, such as was reborn into Zhang Ya Zi at the end of the West Jin Dynasty. Now his temple in the Monastery, as the old days, has become the place for students and scholars to come to ask for help. His birthday is February 3rd. His statue looks graceful and witty, riding on a white donkey. His two attendants are with him.

      On his left is the statue of Confucius who was the founder of Confucianism. On his right is the statue of the well-known scholar Zhu Xi in the Song Dynasty. All the statues were made during the Ming Dynasty.

      The tall statue outside the temple is Kui-Star who marks the best writing of those taking the highest imperial examination. His big abdomen expresses his broad and profound knowledge and he is full of wisdom. His right hand holds a brush, in his left hand is a container of ink. It is said if he dipped his brush into the ink and then made a mark on a writing, that writer would be chosen as the number one scholar and then would be chosen by the Emperor to become a senior official.

    5. Yuan Chen Celestial’s temple
    6. The Yuan Chen Celestial’s temple was built in 1190. It is believed that the Emperor of the Jin Dynasty originally built this temple for his mother’s birth Celestial. Now the statues in the temple are the Sixty Celestials of Jia Zi, (sixty jia zi, a cycle of sixty years according to the Heavenly Stems and Early Branches which is also on the Chinese calendar,) and Dou Lao Primary Deity (female.) Dou Lao Primary Deity is in the middle. She has three eyes, four heads, and eight arms. She is a Taoist Celestial who is considered the mother of the seven Big Dipper Stars. In the classic it says that she was the favorite wife of Emperor Yu during the Dragon-han time (remote period ) and gave birth to nine sons. The two older ones became Deities, and the seven younger ones became the Big Dipper Stars. People believe that she is effective in answering various kinds of prayers. The general on her left side is Tian Peng; the right one is Tian Yu. These two bronze statues were made in the Ming Dynasty.

      The Sixty Jia Zi Celestials of stars take their turns in charge of the years. They are also the guardian angels of the people who were born in the duty-years (according to the Yellow Emperors calendar.) It is said if you pray in front of your own birth celestial your whole year will be fine. If you travel in the mountains and are in danger, or in trouble, then you call the name of your own birth celestial and all your troubles will be removed. All sixty Celestials have their real names in history, such as General Ji Bian of the Jia year and General Chen Tsai of the Yi year.

    7. The Twelve Animals of the Birth Years
    8. The Twelve Animals Stone Wall was carved in 1993. The theory of the Twelve Animals Birth Years was developed from the ancient philosophy and astronomy from which the Yellow Calendar was scientifically created. This calendar divides the years as well as forms the months and days according to the movements of the moon and the sun into the profound theory of Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches. Later people used the theory on the birth years, for example, to be born in the year of the mouse means being smart, those born in the year of ox/cow have a diligent personality and ream a bumper harvest. Born in the year of the tiger - the king of the animals, can scare evils away and remove disaster. To those born in the year of the rabbit, it means good luck and happiness. For those born in the year of the dragon it means to have a soaring career. To be born in the year of the snake is to be cautious and vigilant. Born in the year of the horse means to be successful in projects. The year of the goat brings harmony and kindness. The year of the monkey has magical power and a free spirit as the Monkey King. The year of the rooster/chicken brings bright mornings to the people. Birth in the year of the dog is to be loyal and consistent in fulfilling his duty and the year of the pig means wealth and treasure. This is why people all like their own birth animals.

    9. The Twenty Four Models of Caring Children

This is a stone carving picture of about twenty-four models of caring children, including both young children and adults who unconditionally love and take care of their parents. As all know, respect of elders and taking care of and showing respect to parents demonstrates moral excellence in Chinese tradition and is the number one good deed of all. These twenty four people are, Emperor Yao, who moved the Heaven by his caring for his mother; the four brothers of the Wu family, who competed in taking care of their old parents; the young man, Dong Yong, who sold himself as a servant in order to buy a coffin for his father; Pan Yue, who gave up his high position in order to take care of his old parents; the young teen age martial art master, a fourteen year old girl, Ying Ti, who wrote to the Emperor and commanded the troops to fight the enemy to save her father’s life, and many more.

Taoist religion is Chinese native religion and has always considered taking care of and respecting parents important. When a person wants to pursue Tao, he or she must cultivate self to deal with the real world in the way of Tao, putting the relationship with one’s own parents and family first before other people. Without loving and caring about one’s own parents, the wish of pursuing Tao and becoming immortalized and a celestial is beyond reach.

  1. The Back Courtyard

The back courtyard has another name, Small Peng Lai, (The World of Celestials.) It was built in 1890 and has three connected courtyards in which you will find Jie tai, The Mountain Room in the Clouds, The Three Mountains, The Building for Retreat, The Corridor of Stone Tablets, The Pavilion Where Crane Rest, The Pavilion of Aromatic Wonder, The Yun Hua Celestial House, The Pavilion Where Meeting the Celestials, The Winding Corridor, and various other structures.

    1. Jie Tai and the Mountain Room in the Clouds
    2. Both the Jie Tai and the Mountain Room in the Clouds were built in 1890. Jie Tai is the place where according to ancient tradition; the Holistic Zhen handed down the principles in the ceremonies to the Taoists. The Mountain Room is where the high-level master Taoist teachers explain classic Taoism and methods to the disciples. To pass on the principles is a very important activity in Taoist religion and was begun by Lao zi when he taught his students. Immortal Qiu Chu-ji himself set an example and emphasized passing along the Holistic Zhen Taoist principles, and later by the Grand Taoist Master Wang Chang-yue (Qing Dynasty) who educated over one thousand students. According to the rules in The Dignified Manners of the Holistic Zhen Taoist School, a Taoist should carry his or her Du Die and Jie Die (book of principles and definition, etc.) all the time. To become a qualified Taoist, after receiving the ceremonies, he or she has to receive education and pass tests, and then the person will become a Taoist. To be a Taoist one should obey the rules and do good deeds, form the belief and cultivate the mind as well as the physical self. Without obeying these principles, it is impossible to become immortalized. There are also different levels of the principles, which relate to the different levels of the practices and cultivation. The fewest principles are five; the most can be a thousand. The whole purpose of this is to avoid evil and develop good and mercy, giving up anxieties and longings and returning to the origin.

    3. The Three Mountains
    4. In each courtyard there is a rocky hill symbolic of the three Taoist Celestial Mountains. On the east "Mountain," there is the Pavilion Where Crane Rest, on the west "Mountain" there is the Pavilion of Aromatic Wonder. At the foot of the north "mountain," there is the Pavilion Where the Celestials are Met, plus the rest of the buildings. This place is named the Small World of Celestials, which is carved on the stone in the hills and written above the gate.

    5. The Building For Retreat
    6. The Building for Retreat was built at the Qian position according to Ba Gua theory (in which qian means the heaven, yang,) located in the northwest corner. It is a quiet place where aged Taoists study.

    7. The Pavilion Where Meeting the Celestials

The Pavilion Where Meeting the Celestials attracted the most people. Here you will find the paintings, etc. of the Eight Immortals, with whom people are very familiar.

The poem is:

Ride with the wind and chase the waves in a boat,

They each perform their magic power,

May I ask where you celestials are going?

Laughing and Answering in one voice,

"Ying Zhou is where we are going. (Ying zhou stands for the Celestial Island.)

5. The Corridor of the Stone Tablets

As all know that the purpose of the stone carvings is to preserve the merits and wisdom from the ancient sages so that their teachings will be passed on. This Corridor was a donation in 1993 from people who cared about preserving the precious remaining stone tablets. In the Monastery there used to be many ancient stone carvings and stone tablets carved with the handwritings and paintings of well-known people. They were considered the treasure of the nation. Many became old, ruined and destroyed. As they deteriorated many were lost. The ones remaining have become very precious. There are a total of eighty-one, including the writings of Immortal Lu Dong-bin (Tang,) well-known calligraphers and emperors, and the first President of China, Dr. Sun Ya-xian. The writings of well-known Taoists of today, Li Yu-huang, Fu Tian-yuan, Min Zhi, and others are also carved into tablets. It is a splendid array of distinguished people’s artwork.

(The buildings on the eastside are not introduced.)

 


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Last changed 11/28/06

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