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White Cloud Temple

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Beihai Park

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The White Cloud Temple of Beijing, China is located outside Xibianmen in Beijing. It is one of "The Three Great Ancestral Courts" of the Complete Perfection Sect of Taoism, and is titled "The First Temple under Heaven".

In the 8th century, the Tian Chang Temple was built in Beijing to house a statue of Lao Tzu. Although it burned down in 1202, the statue was saved . In 1224, Genghis Khan ordered the reconstruction of the temple. It came to be known as the White Cloud Temple. Today it is one of China's oldest and largest Taoist temples, housing the office of Taoist Association of China. In Chinese, Taoist temples are not actually called temples, but Guan. Guan means something like to look at or observe. This is a reflection of the Taoist belief that understanding the Tao comes from a direct observation of nature, rather than scholastic theological studies. The arches at the front have detailed traditional images including two hidden monkeys. Visitors believe it is lucky to find and touch them. Just inside the entrance is a bridge crossing over nothing in particular. Under the bridge are oversized Chinese coins with bells in the middle (right). For a couple of dollars you can buy a bunch of fake coins (sample below) to throw at the bells. It is said to be lucky if you can hit the bell with a coin throwing from either side. nside the Temple for the Immortal Qui is a detailed model of scenes from the life of this very impressive Taoist Ancient. Born to a good family in Shan Dong in 1148, Master Qui Chang Chun, () had an excellent memory and quick wit from an early age. He studied Taoism for many years and came to live in a cave in Shan Xi. He was nicknamed, Sir Palm Bark Raincoat, because of his habit of bringing a simple raincoat and bamboo hat wherever he went. ater, his wisdom attracted invitations from powerful emperors. He turned down several invitations to accept the most inconvenient and dangerous of all: an audience with Genghis Khan. After journeying for two years with 18 disciples to meet the Khan, his reasons became apparent.The two got on very well. After a while Genghis Khan asked Qui's advice on ruling well. Qui counselled him to show restraint in killing. On the issue of longevity, he recommended easing the mind and avoiding excessive desires. It is said this meeting encouraged Khan to soften his brutal ways to the benefit of his subjects. Qui's journey had been worthwhile.
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White Dagoba Temple (Bai Ta).The Bai Ta (White Pagoda) is 40 m high and placed on the highest point on Qiong Island. Its body is made of white stone. Sun, moon and flame engravings decorate the surface of the tower. Destroyed in 1679 by an earthquake, it was rebuilt the following year. Same in 1976, because of an earthquake which occurred at Tangshan City, near Beijing City. Hidden inside the tower are Scriptures, Buddhist monk's mantle and alms bowl, and bones of monks (left after they are burned).

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