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Published: April 13th 2011
Today I took a journey to the QingYang Taoist Temple here in Chengdu. The temple is just 10 minutes down the road from where I am staying, so after working for almost 30 and not finding it, I figured I was in the wrong place. Ordinarily that wouldn't be a problem, but when no one around speaks english, and all the maps are in Chinese finding your way can be quite a challenge. I have never so so completely out of place. I decide to turn around and head back to the hotel.
Before I did though, I saw a young guy wearing an Adidas jacket so I figured I would ask if he spoke any english. Turns out he did speak a little. I asked him where the temple was and he told me to head back the way I came and turn right. I asked how many streets until I turn right? He looked at me with a blank stare. ONe? Two? Yes, he nodded. OK. I was on my way again. When the second street came up, I looked down to see if I could see anything resembling a temple, but there wasn't anything there. Somewhat disappointed I
decided I would have to return to the hotel and try again at another time. I tried asking a few more people if they spoke English, but they did not. At least I assume that is what they were telling me in Mandarin.
And then, a strange thing happened. Walking towards me from the opposite direction I had just seen him in, was the guy in the Adidas jacket. WTF? Had he just teleported from where I saw him ten minutes ago? He came up to me and put his had on my shoulder and said, don't worry, I will take you to the temple. He told me his friend had picked him up to give him something and then dropped him off. That made sense, but I still wondered if maybe he was a Taoist sage in disguise who had actually teleported himself to the new location 😊
It turns out his name was Huang Qen, and he lived and worked in Chengdu and had studied business in Beijing where he learned to speak English. I was lucky he came along when he did, cause he ended up walking me about 30 minutes away from where we had been,
and indeed the Temple was just in front of us. Huang Qen pointed me in the direction of the temple and was off. I said thank you, and re-started my journey to the temple. AS you know, I don't believe in coincidence, so I thank whomever or whatever sent Huang Qen my way.
Once inside the Temple, I was immediately struck by the peace and quite I felt, just steps away from the noisy, hectic Chengdu streets. The QingYang Temple, or Green Goat Temple, is one of the oldest Taoist temples in China, and legend says that Lao Zi gave his first speech on Taoism there. It is a hug complex consisting of several large buildings and pavilions that were built throughout the various Chinese dynasties. Each small temple was dedicated to a different Taoist deity or sage. In one of the main halls were 4 giant golden statues surrounded by 12 smaller ones. The 4 large statues were of famous immortals/deities, and the 12 surrounding are known as the 12 Golden Immortals. Now this will sound a little strange, but I could swear that a the eyes and faces of a couple of the 12 Golden Immortals seemed
as if they were alive, and aware of my presence. And before you ask, I was completely sober at the time. There was something quite magical about it all. Once again, some of the locals were more interested in staring at me than at the statues, as I was the only white guy in the place. Three younger guys even asked to take pictures with me. I couldn't help but laugh to myself. I walked around the rest of the grounds soaking up the peace and beauty, and enjoying the wafts of sweet incense smoke floating through the air. And wouldn't you know it, I finally saw some other people with beards and top-knots, The Taoists who worked and studied at the temple! There was one old man in particular with a long white beard, just like out of the movies, who I would have loved to be able to have a conversation with. I can only imagine how amazing that would have been. Perhaps next time.
All in all, it was quite an experience. From getting lost, and being found, to walking in the footsteps of some of the legendary Taoist Sages, it was an afternoon I won't soon
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