by Monk Danxi
A Daoist College
I am a Buddhist monk in a southern province of China.
When attending a Buddhist meeting in Beijing in September
2003, I took the opportunity to visit the famous Daoist
centre – White Cloud Temple.
The temple is a hot tourist spot, and like most popular
Buddhist and Daoist temples in China today, it is treated
as such – you have to buy a ticket to enter the premise.
But there is an exception: that is if you are an ordained
Monk or Daoist; in this case, you can expect not only a
free entry, but also free meal and accommodation. So in
my brownish-yellow robe with my shaven head, I strode into
the temple without hindrance, and cupped my hands (the
Daoist way of greeting) to greet every Daoist I met. The
Daoists, on the other hand, all returned my greeting with
folding palms (the Buddhist way of greeting). It was rather
amusing, really. You just picture this: A Buddhist acted
like a Daoist, and all Daoists behaved like a Buddhist.
A hall in White Cloud Temple
I soon came to a humble two-storey building with an external
corridor along the front and was told it is a Daoist college,
offering a two-year diploma program and a four-year course
with a bachelor’s degree. Out of curiosity, I knocked on
the door of the administration office. When I was invited
in by Daoist Zhou, I surprisingly observed that there were
quite a few Buddhist Scriptures on the shelf and table. "Aha,
I’ve just got stuck in some of its chapters and hope someone
can help," said the Zhou, pouring me a cup of brewed
hot tea before showing me some text on a Sutra. "Nay, All things
arise through karmic force from Empty Nature-Root,
what is your explanations on this?"
The Daoist College in White Cloud Temple
So we chatted away, from comparing the similarities between
I Ching’s lianshan theory and Buddhist doctrine
of Consciousness Only, to identifying the correlations
between Daoist idea of Ontology and Buddhist concept of
Ultimate Wisdom, Perfect Enlightenment, Impartial Observation
in Awakening the Mahayana system. The abbot of the college
also came to join our discussion, soon it was lunchtime,
and they insisted that I should have the meal with them
so we could talk even more.
A side door to the inner
living quarter of the Daoists
Left the college, I wandered around the temple at leisure,
thinking my visit to the White Cloud was all worthwhile
as I had learned so much about the Daoism, little realising
that I was yet to encounter a truly amazing character and
hear his extraordinary life stories.
It all started when I turned about the corner of the Hall
of Commandments and bumped into a man – Daoist Wang.
(Source of original photo: Beijing Laosu