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HandWiki. Temple of the Five Immortals (Shiyan). Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/35368 (accessed on 24 June 2024).
HandWiki. Temple of the Five Immortals (Shiyan). Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/35368. Accessed June 24, 2024.
HandWiki. "Temple of the Five Immortals (Shiyan)" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/35368 (accessed June 24, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 21). Temple of the Five Immortals (Shiyan). In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/35368
HandWiki. "Temple of the Five Immortals (Shiyan)." Encyclopedia. Web. 21 November, 2022.
Temple of the Five Immortals (Shiyan)
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The Temple of the Five Immortals or Five Immortals Temple (Chinese: 五仙庙, p Wuxianmiao) is a Daoist temple located in Shiyan's Zhangwan District in China 's Hubei Province. The temple is situated on the Heavenly Horse (天马, Tianma) peak of White Horse Mountain (白马山, Báimǎ shān) in the Wudang Mountains. The Wudang Mountains are home to a famous complex of Taoist temples and the monasteries and associated with the god Xuan Wu. The Temple of the Five Immortals is one of the very few temples in the Wudang mountain range which is still maintained by real Daoist monks who dedicate their life to explore the great Dao. Wudang was named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1994.

五仙庙 daoist china

1. Location and Overview

Inside the Hubei Province, looming above the Yellow Dragon River,[1] at 1048 meters elevation, sits the Temple of the Five Immortals. The grounds are located approximately one hour hiking distance from the nearest village, at the base of the mountain. The nearest city is located about a one-hour bus journey from the village. Locals have been using this temple for generations as a place of worship and prayer and many believe the Five Immortals to be their heavenly protectors. On special days of celebration, many hike to the temple to pay homage there, or to carry daily necessities to the residing Taoists.[2]

2. The Temple

The temple was erected approximately 1000 years ago during a time of great conflict. It was known then as ‘The Sanctuary’. People who were seeking refuge from the war fled to this fortress and were protected by five Daoists who later became known as ‘The Five Immortals’. The Temple has been maintained throughout the many centuries that have passed between then and now. An Abbot remains still and continues to impart the knowledge passed on by the five immortals to the students that are now arriving from all parts of the globe.

3. The Restoration Project

Although the temple has been maintained throughout the ages, much of it suffered great damage and has been in a state of disrepair for much time. In 1995, Master Li Shifu came to practice as an Abbot here and to train disciples in the arts of Daoism. Since he has arrived, the restoration project has begun. It has been a slow and challenging process due to the state of dilapidation but improvement and development has been consistent over the last two decades and the temple is gradually increasing its capacity to host more students.

4. A Brief History of Recent Times

The current structure is approximately 100 years old. It is a small and relatively unknown and humble estate. Knowledge of the Temple has not yet reached much of the wider world community. It is known mostly by the local mountain people. There are usually fewer than three practicing Daoists residing there. It is a simple, peaceful place to practice and potentially cultivate immortality.

5. Five Immortals

According to the ancient legends, the Five Immortals were endowed with great wisdom.

  1. The Great Master of this lineage or The First Immortal, was deeply engaged in his studies of the Book of Changes (known in China as Yi Jing or I Ching). He was also adept in Confucian Analects and the practices of virtue, compassion and forbearance in times of great conflict. He pursued the heavens, nurturing and protecting humanity and the constants.
  2. The Second Immortal was the most advanced in Gong-Fu and the Martial Arts practices which he preserved in the interest of protecting the people by martial virtue and physical strength.
  3. The third immortal was the master of coursing qi, meditating on stillness and cultivating internal alchemy, with an emphasis on the grasp of life and the reversal of yin and yang.
  4. The Fourth of the Immortals was the master of herbal medicine and healing. He rescued humans from their sufferings and healed the heart. He was proficient in distinguishing between cause and effect.
  5. The Fifth Immortal was a musical expert who was devoted to preserving the rhapsodies, songs and tunes of the lineage.

The Immortals were known by the locals as the protector Gods of their families and relatives. On special days of celebration, the local people would climb the mountain to offer gratitude and reverence or to haul daily necessities to the residing Daoist monks. It is about one hours journey on foot from the village to the temple. The Immortals teach people the virtue of morality and compassion and the essence of heart-mind. They teach people to cultivate integrity and to nurture the innate nature of the self. The masters have revealed their supernatural abilities to help people in need and so crowds of people from the surrounding areas often climb to carry sacrificial offerings to them.[3]

6. The Abbot

Xing De (Daoist name)[4] Date of Birth: 1964, Henan Province, Shang Qiu.[2] Xing De traveled extensively in his youth, seeking out many grandmasters in the mountains of China. He was accepted by many elders and has received many names. In 1991 he began his journey as an official devotee of Taoism. In 1996 he committed himself to a life of renunciation in White Horse Mountain (Wudang, Hubei Province).[5] He studied the practices of cultivating Internal Alchemy from the grandmasters and devoted much of his time to mantras, rituals, talismans and Taoist Medicine for which he received transmissions from the elders. He became the Abbot of Five Immortals Temple in 2000. He is a priest of the Mount Wudang Dragon Gate Sect and Pure Yang Sect and he is a Master of Jing Chan Ceremonies.[6]

7. Summary

As we enter 2015, the quantity of pilgrims is increasing and more tourists are arriving on the Wudang Mountain. This once sacred place of hermitage is slowly changing as people seek escape from the chaos of the cities. The solace of the mountain drives them en masse at weekends and during holidays into the holy grounds. The mountain remains quiet during the winter months but tourists, pilgrims and explorers arrive in great numbers during the summer months. The disturbance caused by these arrivals is considered necessary for a true cultivation in this modern world. They are considered to be important source material to promote potential and refinement in the midst of the chaos one must encounter on The Path.[2][7]

References

  1. "Hubei Travel Guide: Map, Location, Climate, Natural Scenery". travelchinaguide.com. http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/hubei/. 
  2. Lindsey Wei(2009), "The Valley Spirit", Singing Dragon Publications ISBN:978-1-84819-131-0
  3. The Empty Vessel magazine "The Journal of Daoist Philosophies and Practice" summer 2014
  4. "Li Song Feng". Wudang White Horse. http://wudangwhitehorse.com/wudang-lineage/li-song-feng/. 
  5. Warrior Guards the Mountain: The Internal Martial Traditions of China, Japan and South East Asia Paperback – January 15, 2013 by Alex Kozma (Author) ISBN:978-1848191242
  6. official temple page about the Abbot http://www.fiveimmortals.com/mount-wudang-master/
  7. brief history of Wudang shan http://www.reed.edu/luce/wudang/wudang_3.html
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