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True Story: A Daoist's Other Worldly Encounter
A Monk in A Daoist Temple (1)

19 July 2006

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.

2) Daoist Wang

(Source of original photo: Beijing Laosu Photo Studio)


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