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White Cloud Temple
Ancient Daoism & Modern Daoists

15 July 2006

Feng shui, Chinese medicine, Chinese astrology, Chinese face reading, taichi, qigong and other Inner, Outer, Hard and Soft martial arts forms all have a common root, that is yin-yang, Five Agents and Eight Trigrams theory system, the very foundation of Daoism.




According to Daodejing (道德经), before a universe began, the Cosmos was a complete void in mass, an absolute nothingness in form, yin and yang utterly united into one. When wuchi (无极 pole-less) develops into taichi (太极 supreme pole), Dao becomes apparent and is ready to run the universe. Then taichi further splits into yin- yang dual forces, with the active part being yang and passive part being yin, and the two parts balancing each other in motion ever since.

Despite being the source and supporter of the universe, Dao is beyond form, cannot be seen; beyond sound, cannot be heard; beyond tangibility, cannot be held. Thus the Dao, though is present, can never be defined; though small, is inclusive of the entire universe.

Yin and yang as the two sides of one coin, complement one another, each being essential for the functioning of the whole. When yin and yang unite, the outcome is a perfect simplicity – exist without existence, appear without appearance and act without actions. In the ultimate reality as such, all things are Nothing, and Nothing is All, and All is in complete accordance with Dao.

Today, as one of the three major traditional teachings (Confucius, Buddhism and Daoism) in China, Daoism still has a great number of followers, with White Cloud Temple being the chief centre for their learning and practice.

Lying in Baiyunguan Street in the Xuanwu District, White Cloud is the headquarters of the Dragon Gate sect of the Complete Reality School. As the oldest and biggest Daoist temple in Beijing, it is also the seat of the Chinese Daoist Association and houses a Daoist college.

Built originally in 739 during the Tang Dynasty to enshrine a statue of Laozi, the author of The Virtue of Dao (Daode Jing), it had been burned down and rebuilt for several times, each time was given a new name from Eternal Spring to Taichi Palace. It has adopted the present name since early Ming Dynasty.

The temple is fronted by a magnificent archway, with its buildings laid out around three parallel axes in a typical Beijing courtyard residence style (siheyuan). The Daoists in the temple wear traditional black cotton robes, have their long hair tied into a knot at the top, and play ancient music, looked as if they were the characters walked off the screen of a Kung Fu movie.

Every year there is a certain number of novices travelling to the White Cloud for a formal ordination. Upon arrival, they’ll be arranged to study the Daoist rituals, classics and rules. Only after having passed the final exam, they’ll gain the honour to receive the Daoist Commandments.

The initial ritual of Acceptance in the main hall serves as a ceremony for announcing the ordination event. The following one taken place in the midnight, however, is strictly exclusive when the secret commandments and rules are explained. In the final stage, before the Commandment Alter, a brand new Daoist will be issued his Commandment Certificate, precept dress, a wand and a bowl.

* 自然者,非大自然也,乃大自在耳。
** 若地为地球之自然环境,天为宇宙之运行法则,则道为太极,自然为无极。


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